Chairman Royce Opening Statement

Washington, D.C. – The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific convened a hearing today entitled, “The Future of U.S.-Taiwan Relations.”  The webcast and witness testimony is available HERE.

Below is Chairman Royce’s opening statement at the hearing:

Thank you very much, Chairman Salmon. Let me first say on behalf of our members here, we have all visited Tainan and been in Taiwan, and our hearts go out to the people of Taiwan, to the victims of this earthquake. Fifty-nine have perished so far, hundreds and hundreds have been injured. There is a great knowledge here in the United States in terms of how much the Taiwanese go to the rescue with volunteers around the world after international incidents, whenever an earthquake or some other disaster hits. And we saw how quickly the authorities, and how quickly the volunteers, rushed to the scene to begin to rescue people.

We have traveled, our committee together, since I have been Chairman, we have travelled three times now to Taiwan, in the last three years, and we have visited Kaohsiung and we have visited Tainan, as I have mentioned, and Taipei of course, and we are just devastated to see the destruction, but the American people stand by the Taiwanese people in their time of need and we are ready to assist in any way we can.

Taiwan is one of our most important friends, to the U.S., in the Asian Pacific, and I know that supporting Taiwan is a critical issue for members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. As Chairman, I have made the strengthening of this relationship with Taiwan one of the Committee’s top priorities.

I want to again congratulate the people of Taiwan for their free and fair elections last month. The U.S. and Taiwan share a very important commitment to democracy, to human rights, to the rule of law, and these values, I think, serves as the bedrock to the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.  And I think the election demonstrated the strength and vibrancy of Taiwan’s new democracy and their democratic system, hopefully serving as a model for other countries in the region.

Last year, Chairman Salmon joined me, as I said, in a delegation where we spent some time in Taipei working to strengthen the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. We met with sitting President  Ma, we met with President-elect Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, and as the Taiwan government changes hands during its transition period, it is important that the U.S. continues to emphasize its steadfast commitment to Taiwan and that the players in Taiwan also make responsible decisions that are in the best interests of the people of Taiwan. A stable and prosperous Taiwan is of course in the best interest of the United States. That is why I look forward to working closely with President-elect Tsai’s new government to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Taiwan bilateral relationship.

In particular, I have long been an advocate for Taiwan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Taiwan’s economic security is just as important as its physical security. So its inclusion in the second round of the agreement will be critical to Taiwan’s stability, and I know Dr. Tsai will be willing to do the work in Taiwan needed to seriously begin a bilateral investment agreement with the United States with eye toward TPP. So I encourage the administration to work with the new government to create a pathway for Taiwan to be integrated into these trade deals.

I am also committed to upholding the letter and spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act, which has underpinned the relationship now for thirty seven years. Last year we worked tirelessly to pressure the administration to finally follow through with the arms sales that it had promised Taiwan. The sales were finally set in motion in December. I remained deeply skeptical about the administration delays that needlessly drag out the arms sales process for Taiwan.

So over the next year both the U.S. and Taiwan will be working on these types of issues, and I thank Chairman Salmon again, he is among  the strongest friends of the Taiwanese people and I also thank Congressman Brad Sherman and the other members of this committee for their engagement on the issue of Taiwan. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.