SENATOR JESSE HELMS
OPENING STATEMENT FOR HEARING ON
THE TAIWAN SECURITY ENHANCEMENT ACT
AUGUST 4, 1999
On behalf of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I extend our
welcome to our distinguished witnesses this morning.
Senator Baucus, Assistant Secretary Roth, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Campbell, our private panelists -- we are genuinely grateful for your
coming to discuss the important topic of the United States' defense
relationship with Taiwan.
Specifically, our purpose is to examine the bill S. 693, the Taiwan
Security Enhancement Act, which Senator Torricelli and I introduced
back in March.
This legislation will ensure that Taiwan will have the essential
self-defense capabilities. To accomplish this we propose to bolster
the process for defense sales to Taiwan, and help Taiwan achieve and
maintain an adequate military readiness.
The need to enhance our defense relationship with Taiwan is obvious.
First, the reunification of Taiwan has become an increasingly high
agitation issue for Beijing, now that they have reabsorbed Hong Kong
and, as of this coming December, Macau.
Second, Beijing constantly demonstrates a willingness to use
intimidation to achieve its goal. China fired missiles off Taiwan's
coast in 1995 and 1996, and is now engaged in a massive missile
buildup opposite Taiwan, according to the February 1999 Pentagon
report to Congress. Beijing is also undergoing a multifaceted military
buildup which includes increased emphasis on logistical improvements
for a Taiwan scenario.
If one adds to this buildup the ugly, threatening rhetoric aimed at
Taiwan by the highest levels of the Chinese government recently, one
can see the very real threat that Taiwan faces.
Third, part of Beijing's strategy is to continue its pressure on the
U.S. to limit or cease arm sales to Taiwan. This has had effect at
various times on successive U.S. administrations. Of course, it was
the Reagan administration that signed the regrettable 1982 Communique,
which set a ceiling on arms sales to Taiwan and promised China that we
would gradually reduce these sales.
Over the years, the United States has refused to sell Taiwan needed
defense items such as submarines and AMRAAM missiles solely to assuage
And just two weeks ago, the Clinton administration withheld several
arm sale notifications to Congress and is reported to be considering
further such measures in an obvious attempt to curry favor with
Beijing and punish Taiwan for President Lee's recent remarks on
Finally, our friends in Taiwan have a military capability that has
operated in virtual isolation for over twenty years. Taiwan's military
does not conduct joint exercises with ours and is not even able to
observe many of our exercises. No U.S. officers above the rank of
colonel or Navy captain can go to Taiwan and those who do are limited
in the things they can say and do. This has certainly had a corrosive
effect on Taiwan's military preparedness, at exactly the time Taiwan
faces a growing military threat from China.
The United States' strategic interests, United States law and United
States moral values dictate that we assist our long-time friends on
Taiwan in meeting these challenges and that is why Senator Torricelli
and I introduced this bill.
I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses.