I rise in support of House Resolution 676, a resolution reiterating that it is the policy of the United States to make available to Taiwan such defense articles and services as may be necessary for its self-defense.
At the outset, I want to thank Chairman Lantos and the gentlewoman from Florida, the author of this resolution; Mr. Lantos being the cosponsor; as well as many other members from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Taiwan Caucus.
Mr. Speaker, this is a very straightforward resolution. It simply says that the executive branch should follow the law, in this case the Taiwan Relations Act, TRA, of 1979, and make available to our friends in that vibrant democracy such defense articles as may be necessary for their self-defense.
While the Chinese Air Force and Navy continue to be upgraded with modern Russian-made combat aircraft, Taiwan's Air Force is literally falling from the sky. In fact, some 17 obsolete F-5 fighters have crashed in the last 10 years, including one this May which killed a number of Singaporean servicemen.
Yet despite Taiwan's clearly compelling needs and the fact that Taipei has not only increased defense spending but also has budgeted and appropriated for the F-16s, the United States is refusing to respond to Taiwan's entirely legitimate request for military sales. In so doing, the clear intent of Congress and the law of the land as articulated in the TRA is obviously being ignored.
In this regard, section 3(b) of TRA stipulates that both the President and the Congress shall determine the nature and quantity of such defense articles and services based solely upon their judgment of the needs of Taiwan.
In life there are times when you can outthink yourself by overanalyzing issues and events, hoping to find that perfect moment to make a major decision. This is one of those times. Given China's ongoing and notorious military buildup, as well as its ceaseless efforts to isolate and belittle Taiwan, there will never be an ideal time for the United States to make defense sales to this island. The ideal time, obviously, is when the time is right, which is now.
The reality is that any major U.S. sale at any time will be objected to by the Chinese Communist regime. Should that affect our commitment to the stability of the Taiwan Strait? Mr. Speaker, are we timid because of China? Likewise, should our defense commitment to Taiwan be held hostage to a clash of personalities, the political season in Taiwan, or Washington's desire to accommodate Beijing?
In conclusion, this commonsense resolution simply says that consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the TRA, the United States should make decisions about prospective arms sales to this island based upon Taiwan's legitimate self-defense needs and our assessment of the relative balance of power in the Western Pacific.
I urge the adoption of this resolution.