The United States Enacts the Taipei Act of 2019

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SEATTLE, Washington — President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019 into law on March 26, 2020. The TAIPEI Act of 2019 seeks to strengthen Taiwan’s international alliances in response to Chinese pressure. It also calls for the U.S. to reduce its economic, security and diplomatic engagement with countries whose actions undermine Taiwan. The Chinese government criticizes the TAIPEI Act as interference in China’s domestic affairs and a “severe violation of the one-China principle.” The legislation emerged after China pressured eight countries to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan following the 2016 election of pro-democracy president Tsai Ing-wen.

The Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019

The TAIPEI Act (or S. 1678) declares that the U.S. should support Taiwan in its efforts to build and strengthen its regional and global relationships. Notably, the act asks U.S. foreign policymakers to consider changing the U.S.’s international relationships. The U.S. would expand its economic, security and diplomatic engagement with countries that have clearly enhanced their relations with Taiwan. Conversely, the legislation calls on the U.S. to “alter” relations with countries that undermine Taiwan’s national security or economic interests.

According to the TAIPEI Act, U.S. foreign policy must include support of Taiwan’s admission into “all international organizations in which statehood is not a requirement,” organizations that the U.S. also participates in. Additionally, U.S. representatives should “use the voice, vote and influence of the United States to advocate for Taiwan’s membership or observer status in such organizations.” Furthermore, the U.S. should also advocate for Taiwan’s membership or observer status in appropriate international organizations as a part of relevant bilateral talks with the People’s Republic of China.

The Act also requires the U.S. Secretary of State to provide annual reports to appropriate congressional committees. These reports will provide regulation to make sure the U.S. keeps in accordance with the policy goals. The congressional committees that the Act deems appropriate are the Committees on Foreign Relations, Appropriations and Finance in the Senate and the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Appropriations and Ways and Means in the House of Representatives.

The Legislative Process

Senator Cory Gardner [R-CO] introduced the TAIPEI Act in the Senate on May 23, 2019. The Senate read the Act twice, then referred it to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The bill had seven cosponsors (5R, 2D).

On September 25, 2019, the Committee on Foreign Relations ordered a report with an amendment for the entire Senate to consider. The following day, the bill appeared on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. On October 29, 2019, the TAIPEI Act unanimously passed in the Senate with an amendment.

The House received the S. 1678: Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019 on October 31, 2019. The House referred the Act to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and to the Committee on Ways and Means.

On March 4, 2020, the House voted on the TAIPEI Act under “suspension of the rules,” meaning that the bill needs a two-thirds majority to pass. The House usually uses the procedure of voting under “suspension of the rules” when a bill is noncontroversial. The bill passed the House with changes by a margin of 415-0 (220D, 194R).

On March 11, 2020, the Senate agreed to the amendment to S. 1678 by unanimous consent, meaning that the TAIPEI Act passed both chambers in identical form. The President received the bill on March 16 and on March 26, 2020, President Trump signed the bill into Law No: 116-135.

–  Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr

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