U.S. Senators Invite Tsai to Address Congress
A group of U.S. senators has called for President Tsai Ing-wen to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress – a proposal that drew a characteristically cautious, non-committal response from the Taiwanese leader. The senators said having the Taiwanese leader speak to Congress would be consistent with U.S. law, enhance U.S. leadership in the Indo-Pacific region, and reward a true ally of America.
The proposal was made in a joint letter to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives. It was signed by Senators Cory Gardner, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, and Ted Cruz.
In an interview with CNN, Tsai said that she would have to consider whether delivering an address to Congress would be in the interests of Taiwan, benefit relations with the United States, and serve peace and stability in the region. “If such an invitation were in fact to be extended – which at the moment is still very much hypothetical – we would deal with it very carefully,” Tsai told CNN.
Richard Bush, a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, said Washington should continue to find ways to improve relations with Taiwan but having Tsai speak to Congress would be a mistake. The U.S. has agreed that its relations with Taiwan will be unofficial, so if Tsai addressed Congress, that agreement would “ring completely hollow,” he said in an essay on the Brookings Institution website.
Bush added that Taiwan would suffer an intense backlash from China if Tsai appeared before Congress. “Beijing would take the opportunity to pressure and squeeze Taiwan even more than it is already doing,” he said.
Pompeo Encourages Support for Taiwan
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Taiwan’s democratic political system in a statement released at the 19th Micronesia Presidents’ Summit held in Palau. The statement referred to Taiwan as a “democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world.”
The summit was attended by the heads of five countries: Palau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Nauru. Except for the Federated States of Micronesia, the others are all among the 17 nations that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Pompeo’s statement expressed “respect and support” for the decision of those four countries to recognize Taiwan.
Debate Over Signing Peace Pact with China
In a radio interview, KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih said that if his party wins the presidential election in 2020, the next government could consider signing a peace treaty with the People’s Republic of China and reactivating the National Unification Guidelines that were suspended during the presidency of Chen Shui-bian. In response, Premier Su Tseng-chang said the lesson of history is that a peace treaty is no guarantee that two countries will not wind up engaged in armed conflict. He cited the Munich Agreement signed by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Germany’s Adolf Hitler in 1938.
The National Unification Guidelines endorsed the principle of One China and defined a three-stage process for Taiwan’s unification with a “democratic, free, and equitably prosperous China.”