This year gave Main Street America a close-up look at the disastrous, real-life results of more than four decades of failed U.S.-China policy – a policy characterized by constant Chinese deception, rampant human rights abuses, unfair trade practices, widespread espionage, regional bullying and relentless efforts to corrupt international organizations like the World Health Organization and United Nations.
The consequences of our irresponsible – and unfortunately bipartisan – tendency to reflexively kowtow to China’s dictatorship over the years have come into sharp focus since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan. American families, employers and workers have faced crushing and unprecedented economic lockdowns, school closures that have harmed our children academically and psychologically, shuttered churches, canceled doctor visits and even brief shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment.
But the origin of America’s flawed approach to China did not begin behind the “Great Firewall” in a Wuhan lab or wet market nine months ago. The seeds of our misguided “One China Policy” were planted in the 1970s and punctuated by then-President Jimmy Carter’s decision to unilaterally normalize relations with “Red China” and cut off diplomatic ties with America’s long-time friend and ally, Taiwan – without consulting or seeking the approval of Congress.
Lawmakers responded by approving the bipartisan Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the cornerstone of continued U.S. economic and cultural relations with the island nation. The TRA also authorized the sale of defensive weapons to enable Taiwan’s government to protect its people and their democracy from Communist aggression. President Reagan built on the TRA in the 1980s with the issuance of the “Six Assurances,” which made clear that the U.S. did not recognize Communist China’s bogus claim to rule Taiwan, rankling the D.C. swamp’s foreign policy establishment (much of which continues to support a dangerous policy of unconditional American appeasement).
Despite the TRA and Reagan’s “Six Assurances,” however, the U.S. still lacks formal ties with Taiwan, inexplicably treating the island’s democratically elected government the same way brutal regimes in North Korea and Iran are treated from a U.S. diplomatic relations standpoint – and in a category worse than that of Cuba’s unelected dictatorship, which President Obama and Vice President Biden recognized in their second term.
The results are in. The so-called “One China Policy” we have pursued for nearly a half-century has failed. It has made the world less safe and less economically secure. It has emboldened and enriched the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), enabling China’s rulers to threaten their neighbors, perpetuate shocking human rights violations against their own citizens and arguably even commit genocide.
It is time for a change.
In recent years, President Trump’s administration has taken bold steps to initiate closer U.S.-Taiwan ties. Trump spoke directly to Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-Wen by telephone shortly after his election – the first such conversation between heads of state in more than 40 years. Trump also approved a robust arms sale to the island last year and recently dispatched the highest-level U.S. delegation to Taipei in nearly half-a-century. In 2018, the President signed bipartisan legislation lifting decades-old, bureaucratic restrictions on travel between Taiwan and the U.S. by senior officials from both nations, recently signaled an intent to initiate talks on a bilateral free trade agreement with Taiwan and is reportedly preparing another transfer of defensive arms.
This month, I introduced legislation that would end the morally bankrupt and failed “One China Policy,” and call for the resumption of normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It also directs the administration to support Taiwan’s participation in international forums and move ahead with negotiations for a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement.
America doesn’t need a permission slip from the Chinese politburo to talk to its friends and partners around the world. Now is the time for America to stop parroting Beijing’s “One China” fantasy, to stop acquiescing to the CCP’s unreasonable and increasingly belligerent demands, to deepen our friendships with other democratic nations and to pursue free and fair trade pacts with free and fair countries.
Rep. Tom Tiffany represents Wisconsin’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives