December 08, 2021

Chairman Menendez Opening Remarks at Full Committee Hearing on Future of U.S. Policy on Taiwan

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the below opening statement at today’s full Committee hearing on the future of United States policy on Taiwan. Testifying before the Committee were Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs the Honorable Daniel Kritenbrink and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs the Honorable Ely Ratner.

“This hearing on the future of U.S. policy and strategy with Taiwan may well prove to be one of the more consequential hearings that this Committee holds this year. And that is for one clear reason: Beijing’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and action – its threats and coercion – underscore that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the most dangerous divides in the world today and one of the handful of places in the world where miscalculation could lead to a war with potentially catastrophic global consequences,” Chairman Menendez said. “Beijing should have no doubt or question that any cross-Strait military or kinetic contingency directly affects the United States and our interests and values – directly affects our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances – and there should be no doubt, question, or misunderstanding that we will respond appropriately.”

Find a copy of Chairman Menendez’s remarks as delivered below.

“Let me thank Ambassador Kritenbrink and Dr. Ratner for joining the Committee today. 

This hearing on the future of U.S. policy and strategy with Taiwan may well prove to be one of the more consequential hearings that this Committee holds this year. And that is for one clear reason: Beijing’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric and action – its threats and coercion – underscore that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the most dangerous divides in the world today and one of the handful of places in the world where miscalculation could lead to a war with potentially catastrophic global consequences.

Xi Jinping has orchestrated Beijing’s hyper-nationalist aggression for his own domestic ends as he imposes his authoritarian neo-Maoist vision on the Chinese people. His relentless incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone this year are a significant threat to the people of Taiwan and the entire international community. It may be that with Beijing’s cynical manipulation of its hosting of the Olympic Games that we have a period of ‘calm’ over the next few months, but there should be no question about Xi’s mindset.

So we may have a crucial window of opportunity for the United States and our partners to reinvigorate our strategy for the challenges ahead. 

But let’s be clear: The starting point for U.S. policy is a recognition that Taiwan’s flourishing democracy and free-market economy is one of the world’s real success stories. It should be a point of great pride – something to be cherished – for all people on both sides of the Strait. We certainly cherish it here on both sides of the aisle.

And let’s also be clear: The U.S.’ commitment to the people of Taiwan – and our obligation to safeguard Taiwan’s space to make its own determinations about its own future without threat of coercion or use of force – must be unequivocal.

There should be no doubt or ambiguity about the nature, depth, and strength of that commitment, or of our endurance as an Indo-Pacific power or of our determination as a people and as a nation to stand with those, like Taiwan, who share our interests and our values.

Beijing should have no doubt or question that any cross-Strait military or kinetic contingency directly affects the United States and our interests and values – directly affects our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances – and there should be no doubt, question, or misunderstanding that we will respond appropriately.

And as Beijing also seeks to reset baselines through coercive measures in the ‘grey zone,’ it should also understand that we remain committed to the essential constituent elements of deterrence across the Strait as well.

Likewise, the United States must stand prepared and ready to assist Taiwan as it seeks to build its own security capabilities and to deter potential PRC military pressure. While I do not expect Dr. Ratner to get into sensitive specifics in an open setting, I am interested in hearing about how the Department of Defense is thinking about priorities in this area. I know the Ranking Member has a narrow bill that he has introduced on security assistance to Taiwan and, as he knows, I am working on a larger bipartisan package into which we hope to incorporate his bill and I hope to work with him and other colleagues on it during the course of the balance of this year and into the next.

Beyond military and security matters, trade and economic ties also lie at the heart of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. I am interested to hear the outcomes of the most recent round of the Prosperity and Partnership Dialogue with Taiwan through the State Department, as well as other initiatives to deepen bilateral trade and commercial ties and to enmesh Taiwan in regional economic architecture, especially given Taiwan’s centrality to secure semiconductor supply chains. Building closer and more enduring economic ties between Taiwan and the world is also crucial to assure that Taiwan, and others, have the wherewithal to withstand Beijing’s efforts at economic coercion.

As I know Ambassador Kritenbrink is aware, I have been deeply concerned about the pressure Beijing has been bringing to bear on Lithuania for its willingness to stand by Taiwan, for example, and am interested in your thoughts on what else the United States can do to support Lithuania and others who stand with Taiwan.

Lastly, let me flag that I am interested in the Administration’s thinking about how to open and expand Taiwan’s diplomatic space – be it how we engage with Taiwan here in Washington and how we work with our partners to assure Taiwan’s meaningful participation in appropriate international organizations like the World Health Assembly or, consistent with a bill I just introduced, the Inter-American Development Bank.

So, we have a very rich and full agenda today.

With that, let me turn to the Ranking Member, Senator Risch, for his remarks.”

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