Ted Yoho: Taiwan's Champion on Capitol Hill
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., the top Republican on the U.S. House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee, continues to urge the Trump administration to support Taiwan, offering warnings about the threat posed by communist China.
At the end of last week, Yoho sent a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Michael Pompeo urging him to attend the upcoming East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Thailand.
“China’s increased influence in East Asia is continuing to push the envelope of democracy. Now more than ever, the United States’ presence is needed in the Indo-Pacific theater to show our regional partners and allies the significance of U.S./East Asia commitment,” Yoho said on Friday after sending the letter. “The Trump administration has done a remarkable job of illustrating leadership by enforcing policies and by being present. Secretary Pompeo’s absence at the EAS would hinder important progress the Trump administration has made in countering China’s political and economic influence.
“Without U.S. representation, other major players, namely China and Russia, will fill the political void. We must not give our adversaries opportunities to assert themselves in important dialogues, like the EAS,” Yoho added.
Earlier in the month, Yoho doubled down on his support of Taiwan as he honored the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) which ensures the U.S. continues to have relations with that nation.
“Forty years ago, on April 10, 1979, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) was signed into law. This veto-proof law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and is the cornerstone of US-Taiwan relations. Four decades later, the United States commitment to this independent island democracy remains strong,” Yoho said earlier this month. “The TRA provided the basis for continuing the historic relationship between the United States and Taiwan. It made clear that Taiwan’s security is essential to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, and that the United States would remain committed to Taiwan’s defense – creating an alliance relationship in all but name.
“Today, Taiwan is a flourishing democracy that is committed to the rule of law and human rights. Our 11th largest trading partner, Taiwan’s vibrant economy, open and inclusive society, and active political space are a beacon of freedom standing just a stone’s throw away from authoritarian rule,” Yoho added. “The United States has and always will be committed to the safety and security of Taiwan. By honoring the key tenets of the TRA, we are keeping the fire of democracy lit in the Indo-Pacific and fostering peace and stability in the region.”
This is not a new front for Yoho. Back in December, Yoho published a piece in the Taipei Times, reiterating his support for Taiwan against Communist China. “A high-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) visited my office for a friendly discussion about the numerous difficulties in US-China relations. We talked about a number of issues — some of them very difficult — but even in that informal setting, Taiwan was a non-negotiable ‘core interest’ of the party, with no place in the discussion,” Yoho wrote. “The US should no longer accept these terms when talking to China. If we accept the false narrative that Taiwan is somehow ‘off-limits,’ we are implicitly accepting the party’s lie that Taiwan’s status is a domestic matter, and we are contributing to Taiwan’s marginalization.
“It is time that the US, China and the rest of the world treat Taiwan as Taiwan deserves to be treated,” Yoho continued. “Taiwan exists today as a sovereign state, a status it has earned through the mandate of its people, its democratic institutions and its stewardship of personal freedoms and human rights. Taiwan is a state and treating this fact as if it is off-limits in international affairs is simply a refusal to acknowledge reality. The facts are self-evident: China’s authoritarian government, dominated by the CCP, has never ruled Taiwan. Today, Taiwan is a flourishing democracy with its own economy, education system, military, sovereign borders, political parties, national anthem and flag.”
Yoho also stressed the important role Taiwan plays in the American economy.
“Taiwan is one of the US’ largest trading partners, a leader in high-tech manufacturing and a model contributor to the international community, with an especially distinguished record in public health crises,” Yoho wrote. “With overwhelming bipartisan consensus, the US Congress passed the veto-proof Taiwan Relations Act to defend Taiwan from invasion and to protect its de facto sovereignty — creating a 40-year alliance relationship in all but name. The CCP tries to obscure this reality, because Taiwan’s existence is a threat to the party’s hold on power. The party stokes grievances against former colonial powers to shore up its legitimacy. Admitting the independent success of a place once ruled by Imperial Japan would undercut the party’s false version of modern Chinese history, in which the party saved China from colonial abuse.
“Taiwan is living proof that freedom and prosperity are not mutually exclusive — putting the lie to the false choice that the party imposes on the 1.3 billion people of China,” Yoho continued. “The CCP is afraid of free-thinking people with the freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom to choose their leaders and freedom to succeed. Because of this fear, China has bullied the world into believing that Taiwan is not a country but some other undefined thing. However, the truth is right in front of our eyes and it is time the world began treating Taiwan as it deserves.
“I told the visiting CCP official that, as an American citizen, I view Taiwan as an independent country and believe that most US citizens and members of our government feel the same way,” Yoho wrote in conclusion. “The US Congress will stand firm with Taiwan. We will honor our defensive military supply commitment and will work toward achieving full diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. In the ensuing decades, Taiwan has risen from a backwater controlled by an authoritarian, exiled military regime to become a model democracy. After 40 years, it is time we updated our policy — making it consistent with present-day reality would be a good place to start. Taiwan is a nation, and it is time to embrace and recognize this fact.”
Yoho has emerged as one of Taiwan’s leading champions on Capitol Hill in recent years.
Back in November, Yoho warned that China could be interfering in Taiwan‘s elections.
“I’m concerned by the widespread allegations that Beijing attempted to interfere in Taiwan’s local elections this weekend,” Yoho said at the end of November. “The Chinese Communist Party’s reprehensible campaign to marginalize Taiwan is no secret. Taiwan’s vibrant democracy and upstanding international conduct are qualities the Communist Party should aspire to, rather than undermine.
“The U.S.-Taiwan partnership remains unwavering,” Yoho added. “I continue to encourage the administration to demonstrate this commitment by fully implementing the Taiwan Travel Act, beginning with a cabinet-level visit to Taiwan as soon as possible.”
At the start of last year, the House passed a bill from Yoho to help Taiwan become a full member of the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2017, for the first time in almost a decade, Taiwan was not invited to the WHO’s World Health Assembly (WHA). Two congresswomen from South Florida who were then on the Foreign Affairs Committee--Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Lois Frankel--cosponsored the bill.
Yoho has also thrown his support behind the Trump administration’s decision to resume arm sales with that nation, including a $1.4 billion package which includes torpedoes, missiles and radar systems.
In the summer of 2017, Yoho and other congressional leaders, including U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, visited several Asian nations including Taiwan.
As he did in his piece published in the Taipei Times, Yoho noted that Taiwan is one of America’s strongest trading partners, ranking eight for U.S. agriculture exports and as the U.S.’s tenth largest trade partner overall. The North Florida Republican, who also sits on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, pointed to recent agreements as Taiwan plans to bring in 360 million bushels of U.S. grain which will sell for more than $2.8 billion.
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