CD272: What is Taiwan?

CD272: What is Taiwan?

Apr 30, 2023

Taiwan’s status in the world has never been clear and neither has the United States’ position on the issue. In this Congressional Dish, via footage from the C-SPAN archive dating back into the 1960s, we examine the history of Taiwan since World War II in order to see the dramatic shift in Taiwan policy that is happening in Congress – and in law – right now.

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Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD259: CHIPS: A State Subsidization of Industry

CD187: Combating China

Taiwan History and Background

“In Focus: Taiwan: Political and Security Issues” [IF10275]. Susan V. Lawrence and Caitlin Campbell. Updated Mar 31, 2023. Congressional Research Service.

“Taiwan taps on United Nations’ door, 50 years after departure.” Erin Hale. Oct 25, 2021. Aljazeera.

“China must ‘face reality’ of Taiwan’s independence: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.” Stacy Chen. Jan 16, 2020. ABC News.

“Taiwan weighs options after diplomatic allies switch allegiance.” Randy Mulyanto. Sep 26, 2019. Aljazeera.

U.S.-Taiwan Relationship


“The Taiwan Relations Act” [Pub. L. 96–8, § 2, Apr. 10, 1979, 93 Stat. 14.]

“22 U.S. Code § 3301 – Congressional findings and declaration of policy.” Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.


“China moves warships after US hosts Taiwan’s Tsai.” Rupert Wingfield-Hayes. Apr 6, 2023. BBC News.

“Speaker Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit: Implications for the Indo-Pacific.” Jude Blanchette et al. Aug 15, 2022. Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Pelosi in Taiwan: Signal or historic mistake?” Aug 4, 2022. DW News.

“China threatens ‘targeted military operations’ as Pelosi arrives in Taiwan.” News Wires. Feb 8, 2022. France 24.

“Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would be ‘ill-conceived’ and ‘reckless.'” Dheepthika Laurent. Feb 8, 2022. France 24.

Presidential Drawdown Authority

“Use of Presidential Drawdown Authority for Military Assistance for Ukraine.” Apr 19, 2023. U.S. Department of State Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

U.S. China Relationship

“America, China and a Crisis of Trust.” Thomas L. Friedman. Apr 14, 2023. The New York Times.


H.R.7776: James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023

Full Text

Outline of Taiwan Provisions


Subtitle G – Other Matters

Sec. 1088: National Tabletop Exercise

  • By the end of 2023, the Secretary of Defense is to assess the viability of our domestic critical infrastructure to identify chokepoints and the ability of our armed forces to respond to a contingency involving Taiwan, including our armed forces’ ability to respond to attacks on our infrastructure.


Subtitle E – Matters Relating to the Indo-Pacific Region

Sec. 1263: Statement of Policy on Taiwan

  • “It shall be the policy of the United States to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist a fait accompli that would jeopardize the security of thepeople of Taiwan.” Fait accompli is defined as, “the resort to force by the People’s Republic of China to invade and seize control of Taiwan before the United States can respond effectively.”

Sec. 1264: Sense of Congress on Joint Exercises with Taiwan

  • Congress wants the Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command to carry out joint military exercises with Taiwan in “multiple warfare domains” and practice using “secure communications between the forces of the United States, Taiwan, and other foreign partners”
  • Taiwan should be invited to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in 2024. RIMPAC is a multinational maritime exercise, now the world’s largest, that has happened 28 times since 1971. The last one took place in and around Hawaii and Southern California in the summer of 2022. 26 countries, including the US, participated.


Subtitle A – Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act


Sec. 5502: Modernizing Taiwan’s Security Capabilities to Deter and, if necessary, Defeat Aggression by the People’s Republic of China

  • Expands the purpose of the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing Program to “provide assistance including equipment, training, and other support, to build the civilian and defensive military capabilities of Taiwan”
  • Authorizes the State Department to spend up to $100 million per year for 10 years to maintain a stockpile of munitions and other weapons (authorized by Sec. 5503). Any amounts that are not obligated and used in one year can be carried over into the next year (which essentially makes this a $1 billion authorization that expires in 2032). The stockpile money is only authorized if the State Department certifies every year that Taiwan has increased its defense spending (requirement is easily waived by the Secretary of State).
  • Authorizes $2 billion per year for the Foreign Military Financing grants each year for the next 5 years (total $10 billion in grants). The money is expressly allowed to be used to purchase weapons and “defense services” that are “not sold by the United States Government” (= sold by the private sector).
  • No more than 15% of the weapons for Taiwan purchased via the Foreign Military Financing Program can be purchased from within Taiwan
  • Also authorizes the Secretary of State to directly loan Taiwan up to $2 billion. The loans must be paid back within 12 years and must include interest.
  • The Secretary of State is also authorized to guarantee commercial loans up to$2 billion each (which can not be used to pay off other debts). Loans guaranteed by the US must be paid back in 12 years.

Sec. 5504: International Military Education and Training Cooperation with Taiwan

  • Requires the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to create a military training program with Taiwan by authorizing the Secretary of State to train Taiwan through the International Military Education and Training Program. The purposes of the training include enhancements of interoperability between the US and Taiwan and the training of “future leaders of Taiwan”. The training itself can include “full scale military exercises” and “an enduring rotational United States military presence”

Sec. 5505: Additional Authorities to Support Taiwan

  • Authorizes the President to drawdown weapons from the stocks of the Defense Department, use Defense Department services, and provide military education and training to Taiwan, the value of which will be capped at $1 billion per year
  • The President is also given the “emergency authority” to transfer weapons and services in “immediate assistance” to Taiwan specifically valued at up to $25 million per fiscal year.

Sec. 5512: Sense of Congress on Taiwan Defense Relations

  • “The Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances provided by the United States to Taiwan in July 1982 are the foundation for United States-Taiwan relations.”
  • “The increasingly coercive and aggressive behavior of the People’s Republic of China toward Taiwan is contrary to the expectation of the peaceful resolution of the future of Taiwan”
  • “As set forth in the Taiwan Relations Act, the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan should be maintained.”
  • The US should continue to support Taiwanese defense forces by “supporting acquisition by Taiwan of defense articles and services through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales, and industrial cooperation, with an emphasis on capabilities that support an asymmetric strategy.”
  • Support should also include “Exchanges between defense officials and officers of the US and Taiwan at the strategic, policy, and functional levels, consistent with the Taiwan Travel Act.”


Sec. 5516: Findings

  • “Since 2016, the Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands, and Kiribati, have severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of diplomatic relations with China”
  • “Taiwan was invited to participate in the World Health Assembly, the decision making body of the World Health Organization, as an observer annually between 2009 and 2016. Since the 2016 election of President Tsai, the PRC has increasingly resisted Taiwan’s participation in the WHA. Taiwan was not invited to attend the WHA in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, or 2021.”
  • “United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 does not address the issue of representation of Taiwan and its people at the United Nations, nor does it give the PRC the right to represent the people of Taiwan.”

Sec. 5518: Strategy to Support Taiwan’s Meaningful Participation in International Organizations

  • By the end of Summer 2023, the Secretary of State must create a classified strategy for getting Taiwan included in 20 international organizations. The strategy will be a response to “growing pressure from the PRC on foreign governments, international organizations, commercial actors, and civil society organizations to comply with its ‘One-China Principle’ with respect to Taiwan.”


Sec. 5525: Sense of Congress on Expanding United States Economic Relations with Taiwan

  • “Taiwan is now the United States 10th largest goods trading partner, 13th largest export market, 13th largest source of imports, and a key destination for United States agricultural exports.”

Audio Sources

Evaluating U.S.-China Policy in the Era of Strategic Competition

February 9, 2023
Senate Foreign Relations Committee


Wendy Sherman, Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State

Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense


17:40 Wendy Sherman: We remain committed to our long standing One China Policy and oppose any unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo. Our policy has not changed. What has changed is Beijing’s growing coercion. So we will keep assisting Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.

41:30 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): I want to get a little broader because I think it’s important to understand sort of the strategic vision behind our tactics on everything that we do. So if we go back to the late 80s, early 90s, end of the Cold War, and the gamble at the time was, if we created this international economic order, led by the US and the West, built on this global commitment to free trade, that this notion of that this trade and commerce would bind nations together via trade, via commerce and international interest and economic interest, that it would lead to more wealth and prosperity, that it would lead to democracy and freedom, basically domestic changes in many countries, and that it would ultimately ensure peace. The famous saying now seems silly, that no two countries with McDonald’s have ever gone to war. That’s obviously no longer the case. But the point being is that was the notion behind it. It was what the then Director General of the WTO called a “world without walls,” rules-based international order. Others call it globalization. And basically, our foreign policy has been built around that, even though it’s an economic theory it basically, is what we have built our foreign policy on. I think it’s now fair to say that we admitted China to the World Trade Organization, Russia as well, I think it’s now fair to say that while wealth certainly increased, particularly in China through its export driven economy, massive, historic, unprecedented amount of economic growth in that regard, I don’t think we can say either China or Russia are more democratic. In fact, they’re more autocratic. I don’t think we can say that they’re more peaceful. Russia has invaded Ukraine now twice, and the Chinese are conducting live fire drills off the coast of Taiwan. So I think it’s fair to say that gamble failed. And we have now to enter — and I think the President actually hinted at some of that in his speech the other night — we’re now entering a new era. What is that new era? What is our vision now for that world, in which not just the global international order and World Without Walls did not pacify or buy nations, but in fact, have now placed us into situations where autocracies, through a joint communique, are openly signaling that we need to reject Western visions of democracy and the like. So, before we can talk about what we’re going to do, we have to understand what our strategic vision is. What is the strategic vision of this administration on what the new order of the world is?

The Future of War: Is the Pentagon Prepared to Deter and Defeat America’s Adversaries?

February 7, 2023
House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation

Watch on YouTube


Chris Brose, Author

Rear Admiral Upper Half Mark Montgomery (Ret.), Senior Director, Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Peter Singer, Strategist at New America and Managing Partner of Useful Fiction LLC


1:16:30 Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery: We don’t have weapons stowed in Taiwan. In the last National Defense Authorization Act you authorized up to $300 million a year to be appropriated for Taiwan-specific munitions. The appropriators, which happened about seven days later, appropriated $0. In fact, almost all of the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act, which you all pushed through the NDAA, ended up not being appropriated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed eight days later.

30:10 Chris Brose: Nothing you do in this Congress will make larger numbers of traditional ships, aircraft and other platforms materialized over the next several years. It is possible, however, to generate an arsenal of alternative military capabilities that could be delivered to U.S. forces in large enough quantities within the next few years to make a decisive difference. Those decisions could all be taken by this Congress. The goal would be to rapidly field what I have referred to as a “moneyball military,” one that is achievable, affordable and capable of winning. Such a military would be composed not of small quantities of large, exquisite, expensive things, but rather by large quantities of smaller, lower cost, more autonomous consumable things, and most importantly, the digital means of integrating them. These kinds of alternative capabilities exist now, or could be rapidly matured and fielded in massive quantities within the window of maximum danger. You could set this in motion in the next two years. The goal would be more about defense than offense, more about countering power projection than projecting power ourselves. It would be to demonstrate that the United States, together with our allies and partners, could do to a Chinese invasion or a Chinese offensive what the Ukrainians, with our support, have thus far been able to do to their Russian invaders: degrade and deny the ability of a great power to accomplish its objectives through violence, and in so doing to prevent that future war from ever happening. After all, this is all about deterrence. All of this is possible. We have sufficient money, technology, authorities, and we still have enough time. If we are serious, if we make better decisions now, we can push this looming period of vulnerability further into the future.

The Pressing Threat of the Chinese Communist Party to U.S. National Defense

February 7, 2023
House Armed Services Committee

Watch on YouTube


Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., USN (Ret.), Former Commander, U.S. Pacific Command

Dr. Melanie W. Sisson, Foreign Policy Fellow, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology


28:15 Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL): China is the most challenging national security threat America has faced in 30 years. If we fail to acknowledge that and take immediate action to deter it, the next 30 years could be devastating for our nation. Under President Xi, the Chinese Communist Party has nearly tripled its defense spending in the last decade alone. The PLA has gone from an obsolete force barely capable of defending its borders to a modern fighting force capable of winning regional conflicts. The CCP now controls the largest army and navy in the world, with a goal of having them fully integrated and modernized by 2027. The CCP is rapidly expanding its nuclear capability; they have doubled their number of warheads in two years. We estimated it would take them a decade to do that. We also were just informed by the DOD [that] the CCP now has more ICBM launchers than the United States. The CCP is starting to outpace us on new battlefields as well. They have leapfrogged us on hypersonic technology, they are fielding what we are still developing. They are making advances in AI and quantum computing that we struggle to keep pace with. Finally, their rapid advances in space were one of the primary motivations for us establishing a Space Force. The CCP is not building these new and advanced military capabilities for self defense. In recent years, the CCP has used its military to push out its borders, to threaten our allies in the region, and to gain footholds on new continents. In violation of international law, the CCP has built new and commandeered existing islands in the South China Sea, where it has deployed stealth fighters, bombers and missiles. It continues to intimidate and coerce Taiwan, most recently by surrounding the island with naval forces and launching endless fighter sorties across its centerline. In recent years, the CCP has also established a space tracking facility in South America to monitor U.S, satellites, as well as an overseas naval base miles from our own on the strategically vital Horn of Africa. These are just a few destabilizing actions taken by the CCP. They speak nothing of the CCPs Belt and Road debt trap diplomacy, it’s illegal harvesting of personal data and intellectual property, it’s ongoing human rights abuses, and its advanced espionage efforts, the latter of which came into full focus for all Americans last week when the Biden administration allowed a CCP spy balloon to traverse some of our nation’s most sensitive military sites. Make no mistake, that balloon was intentionally lost as a calculated show of force.

44:15 Dr. Melanie W. Sisson: Since 1979, the United States has adopted a constellation of official positions, together known as the One China policy, that allow us to acknowledge but not to accept China’s perspective that there is one China and that Taiwan is part of China. Under the One China policy, the United States has developed robust unofficial relations with the government and people of Taiwan consistent with our interest in preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. US policy is guided by an interest in ensuring cross-strait disputes are resolved peacefully and in a manner that reflects the will of Taiwan’s people. This has required the United States to deter Taiwan from declaring independence, and also to deter the CCP from attempting unification by force. The 40 year success of the strategy of dual deterrence rests upon the unwillingness of the United States to provide either an unconditional commitment to Taipei that it will come to its defense militarily, or an unconditional commitment to Beijing that we will not. The U.S. national security interest in the status of Taiwan remains that the CCP and the people of Taiwan resolve the island’s political status peacefully. Dual deterrence therefore remains U.S. strategy, reinforced by U.S. declaratory policy which is to oppose unilateral changes to the status quo by either side.

45:28 Dr. Melanie W. Sisson: The modernization of the PLA has changed the regional military balance and significantly enough that the United States no longer can be confident that we would decisively defeat every type of PLA use of force in the Taiwan Strait. This fact, however, does not necessitate that the US abandon the strategy of dual deterrence and it doesn’t mean that the United States should seek to reconstitute its prior degree of dominance. Posturing the U.S. military to convince the CCP that the PLA could not succeed in any and every contingency over Taiwan is infeasible in the near term and likely beyond. The PLA is advances are considerable and ongoing, geography works in its favor, and history demonstrates that it’s far easier to arrive at an overconfident assessment of relative capability than it is to arrive at an accurate one. Attempting to demonstrate superiority for all contingencies would require a commitment of forces that would inhibit the United States from behaving like the global power that it is with global interests to which its military must also attend. This posture, moreover, is not necessary for dual deterrence to extend its 40 year record of success. We can instead encourage the government of Taiwan to adopt a defense concept that forces the PLA into sub-optimal strategies and increases the battle damage Beijing would have to anticipate and accept.

46:45 Dr. Melanie W. Sisson: U.S. military superiority in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean allows us to threaten the maritime shipping upon which China depends for access to energy, global markets, and supply chains. The inevitable damage a use of force would cause to the global economy and the imposition of sanctions and restricted access to critical inputs needed to sustain China’s economic development and the quality of life of its people, moreover, would certainly compound China’s losses.

1:04:50 Adm. Harry B. Harris: We’re going to share the crown jewel of America’s military technology, the nuclear submarine and the nuclear reactors, with another country and that’s Australia. We have not done that with any other country, except for the UK, back in the late 50s, and into the 60s. So here we have the two countries with with that capability, the United States and the UK, and we’re going to share that with Australia. It’s significant. But it’s only going to going to be significant over the long term if we follow through. So it’s a decade long process. You know, some people the CNO, Chief of Naval Operations, has said it could be 30 years before we see an Australian nuclear submarine underway in the Indian Ocean. I said that if we put our hearts and minds to it, and our resources to it, and by ours, I mean the United States’, the UK’s and Australia’s, we can do this faster than that. I mean we put a man on the moon and eight years, and we developed a COVID vaccine in one year. We can do this, but we’re going to have to put our shoulders to the task for Australia, which has a tremendous military. For them to have the long reach of a nuclear submarine force would be dramatic. It would help us dramatically. It would change the balance of power in the Indian Ocean, and it will make Australia a Bluewater navy. They are our key ally in that part of the world and I’m all for it.

1:32:05 Adm. Harry B. Harris: I think this issue of strategic clarity versus strategic ambiguity is critical, and we have been well served, I’ll be the first to say that, by the policy of strategic ambiguity with Taiwan over the past 44 years, but I think the time for ambiguity is over. I think we have to be as clear about our intent with regard to what would happen if the PRC invades Taiwan as the PRC is clear in its intent that it’s ultimately going to seize Taiwan if need.

1:41:25 Adm. Harry B. Harris: I used to talk about during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, almost every branch of the U.S. government understood that the Soviet Union was the threat. You know, I used to joke even a park ranger, Smokey Bear, would tell you that the Soviets were the bad guys. We didn’t have that comprehensive unified view of the PRC. You know, State Department looked at as in negotiation, DOD look at it as a military operation, Commerce looked at it as a trading partner, and Treasury looked at it as a lender. So we didn’t have this unified view across the government. But I think now we are getting to that unified view and I think the Congress has done a lot to get us in that position.

1:49:45 Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): We have the capability to block the transmission of information from the balloon back to China, don’t we? Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.: We do. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): And in this type of an environment do you think it’s probably likely that we did that? Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.: I would only guess, but I think General van Herk said that — Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): Well you can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t do that, right?

U.S.-Taiwan Relations

March 14, 2014
House Foreign Affairs Committee


Kin Moy, [Former] Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State


7:20 [Former] Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY): Taiwan is a flourishing multiparty democracy of over 20 million people with a vibrant free market economy. It is a leading trade partner of the United States alongside much bigger countries like Brazil and India. Over the past 60 years, the U.S.-Taiwan relationship has undergone dramatic changes, but Taiwan’s development into a robust and lively democracy underpins the strong U.S.-Taiwan friendship we enjoy today.

14:00 Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): I think that it’s important that we provide Taiwan the tools to defend itself, but Taiwan needs to act as well. Taiwan spends less than $11 billion on its defense, less than 1/5 per capita what we in America do, and God blessed us with the Pacific Ocean separating us from China. Taiwan has only the Taiwan Strait. On a percentage of GDP basis, Taiwan spends roughly half what we do. So we should be willing to sell them the tools and they should be willing to spend the money to buy those tools.

1:11:50 Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): I think Chris Smith raised the issue of a One China policy. Does it not bother you that that exists, that there are statements that people have made, high level officials, that said they they agreed on one China policy? Does the administration not view that as a problem? Kin Moy: Our one China policy is one that has existed for several decades now. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): Okay. Well, I take that as a no, but let me follow up with what Jerry Connolly said. So you haven’t sold submarines yet, you don’t take Beijing into account. People around the world watch us. Words and actions have consequences. Would you agree that y’all would be okay with a one Russia policy when it comes to Crimea and the Ukraine? Is that akin to the same kind of ideology? Kin Moy: Well, I can’t speak to those issues. But again, we are obligated to provide those defense materials and services to Taiwan and we have been through several administrations, I think very vigilant in terms of providing that.

U.S.-China Relations

May 15, 2008
Senate Foreign Relations Committee


Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations

Harry Harding, Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University, 1995-2009


1:46:42 Richard N. Haass: The bottom line is China is not yet a military competitor, much less a military peer. Interestingly, I think Chinese leaders understand this. And they understand just how much their country requires decades of external stability so that they can continue to focus their energies and their attention on economic growth and political evolution. China is an emerging country, but in no way is it a revolutionary threat to world order as we know it.

1:47:20 Richard N. Haass: We alone cannot bring about a successful us Chinese relationship. What the Chinese do and say will count just as much. They will need to begin to exercise restraint and patience on Taiwan. There can be no shortcuts, no use of force. We, at the same time, must meet our obligations to assist Taiwan with its defense. We can also help by discouraging statements and actions by Taiwan’s leaders that would be viewed as provocative or worse.

2:03:47 Harry Harding: Now with the support and encouragement of the United States, China has now become a member of virtually all the international regimes for which it is qualified. And therefore the process of integration is basically over, not entirely, but it’s largely completed. And so the issue, as Bob Zoellick rightly suggested, is no longer securing China’s membership, but encouraging it to be something more, what he called a “responsible stakeholder.” So this means not only honoring the rules and norms of the system, but also enforcing them when others violate them, and assisting those who wish to join the system but who lack the capacity to do so. It means, in other words, not simply passive membership, but active participation. It means accepting the burdens and responsibilities of being a major power with a stake in international peace and stability, rather than simply being a free rider on the efforts of others. Now, China’s reacted to the concept of responsible stakeholding with some ambivalence. On the one hand, it appreciates that the United States is thereby seeking a positive relationship with China. It suggests that we can accept and even welcome the rise of Chinese power and Beijing’s growing role in the world. It certainly is seen by the Chinese as preferable to the Bush administration’s earlier idea that China would be a strategic competitor of the United States, as was expressed during the campaign of 2000 and in the early months of 2001. However, Beijing also perceives, largely correctly, that America’s more accommodative posture as expressed in this concept is conditional. China will be expected to honor international norms and respect international organizations that it did not create and it may sometimes question. And even more worrying from Beijing’s perspective is the prospect that it’s the United States that is reserving the right to be the judge as to whether Chinese behavior on particular issues is sufficiently responsible or not.

Taiwanese Security

August 4, 1999
Senate Foreign Relations Committee


David “Mike” M. Lampton, Founding Director, Chinese Studies Program, Nixon Center

Stanley Roth, Assistant Secretary, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Caspar W. Weinberger, Former Secretary, Department of Defense

James Woolsey, Former Director, CIA


9:00 Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE): Taiwan security, in my view, flows from its democratic form of government’s growing economic, cultural and political contacts with the mainland and, ultimately, the United States’ abiding commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. In my opinion, we should concentrate on strengthening those areas rather than spend time pre-authorizing the sales of weapon systems, some of which don’t even exist yet.

20:10 Stanley Roth: There are three pillars of the [Clinton] administration’s policy. First, the administration’s commitment to a One China policy is unchanged. Regardless of the position of the parties, we have not changed our policy. The President has said that both publicly and privately. Second, we believe that the best means to resolve these issues is by direct dialogue between the parties themselves. We have taken every opportunity, including on my own trip to Beijing last week with Ken Lieberthal from the NSC, to urge the PRC to continue this dialogue. It strikes us that it’s precisely when times are difficult that you need to dialogue, and to cancel it because of disagreements would be a mistake. China has not yet indicated whether or not these talks will continue in the Fall, as had been previously anticipated, but they put out a lot of hints suggesting that it wouldn’t take place, and we are urging them to continue with this dialogue. Third point that is integral to our position. We have stressed again, at every opportunity, the importance of a peaceful resolution of this issue and the President has made that absolutely clear, as did Secretary Albright in her meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Tong in Singapore last week, as did Ken Leiberthal and I in our meetings in Beijing. But China can have no doubts about what the United States’ position is, with respect to peaceful resolution of this issue.

1:29:15 Caspar Weinberger: So I don’t think that we should be hampered by or felt that we are in any way bound by what is said by the communique, nor should we accept the argument that the communique sets the policy of the United States.

1:32:50 Caspar Weinberger: There are two separate states now, with a state-to-state relationship, and that the unification which was before emphasized, they repeated again in the statement of Mr. Koo, the head of their Trans- Strait Negotiating Committee, that the unification might come when China itself, the mainland, changes, but that that has not been the case and it is not now the case.

1:41:15 David “Mike” Lampton: Once both the mainland and Taiwan are in the WTO, each will have obligations to conduct its economic relations with the other according to international norms and in more efficient ways than now possible.

1:45:20 James Woolsey: The disestablishment of large, state-owned enterprises in China over the long run will bring some economic freedoms, I believe, that will quite possibly help change China and Chinese society and make it more conducive over time to political freedoms as well. But in the short run, the unemployment from the disestablishment of those enterprises can lead to substantial instability.

U.S.-Taiwan Relations

February 7, 1996
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs


Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State


16:45 Winston Lord: The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 forms the basis of US policy regarding the security of Taiwan. Its premise is that an adequate defense in Taiwan is conducive to maintaining peace and security while differences remain between Taiwan and the PRC. I’m going to quote a few sections here because this is a very important statement of our policy. Section two B states, “It is the policy of the United States to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area, and of grave concern to the United States. To provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character, and to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the socioeconomic system of the people on Taiwan.” Section three of the TRA also provides that the “United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self defense capability.”

18:00 Winston Lord: The key elements of the US policy toward the Taiwan question are expressed in the three joint communiques with the PRC as follows. The United States recognizes the government of the PRC as the sole legal government of China. The US acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan as part of China. In 1982, the US assured the PRC that it has no intention of pursuing a policy of two Chinas, or one China, one Taiwan. Within this context, the people the US will maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. The US has consistently held that the resolution of the Taiwan issue is a matter to be worked out peacefully by the Chinese themselves. A sole and abiding concern is that any resolution be peaceful.

19:30 Winston Lord: The U.S. government made reciprocal statements concerning our intentions with respect to arms sales to Taiwan, that we did not intend to increase the quantity or quality of arms supplied, and in fact intended gradually to reduce the sales. At the time the joint communique was signed, we made it clear to all parties concerned that our tensions were premised on the PRC’s continued adherence to a policy of striving for peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

21:30 Winston Lord: The basic inventory of equipment which Taiwan has or will have in its possession will, in our view, be sufficient to deter any major military action against Taiwan. While arms sales policy aims to enhance the self defense capability of Taiwan, it also seeks to reinforce stability in the region. We will not provide Taiwan with capabilities that might provoke an arms race with the PRC or other countries in the region.

21:55 Winston Lord: Decisions on the release of arms made without proper consideration of the long term impact. both on the situation in the Taiwan Strait and on the region as a whole, would be dangerous and irresponsible. If armed conflict were actually breakout in the Taiwan Strait, the impact on Taiwan, the PRC, and indeed the region, would be extremely serious. The peaceful, stable environment that has prevailed in the Taiwan Strait since the establishment of our current policy in 1979 has promoted progress and prosperity on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The benefits to Taiwan and the PRC have been obvious and I outline these in my statement. All of these achievements would be immediately put at risk in the event of conflict in the Strait. Conflict would also be costly to the United States and to our friends and allies in the region. Any confrontation between the PRC and Taiwan, however limited in scale or scope, would destabilize the military balance in East Asia and constrict the commerce and shipping, which is the economic lifeblood of the region. It would force other countries in the region to reevaluate their own defense policies, possibly fueling an arms race with unforeseeable consequences. It would seriously affect the tens of thousands of Americans who live and work in Taiwan and the PRC. Relations between the US and the PRC would suffer damage regardless of the specific action chosen by the President, in consultation with Congress. For all these reasons, we are firmly determined to maintain a balanced policy, which is best designed to avoid conflict in the area.

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