Senators to Trump: Send Cabinet member to Taiwan on North Korea summit day

By On June 08, 2018

Senators to Trump: Send Cabinet member to Taiwan on North Korea summit day

President Trump should send a cabinet-level official to Taiwan next week, a quartet of Senate Republicans suggested Friday.

“This will demonstrate our unwavering commitment to one of our strongest democratic partners in the region,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

The American Institute of Taiwan, a nonprofit organization that functions as an unofficial U.S. embassy in Taipei, is opening a new facility on Tuesday, June 12. The lawmakers want a senior administration official to attend, as a message to China, which regards the functionally-independent island as a breakaway province. That trip, if Trump accepted the recommendation, would take place on the same day that the president meets with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whose regime is a histo ric client of China’s.

“Taiwan is not only an important economic and security partner, but also a strong ally of the United States,” the senators, senior members of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, wrote in the letter. “It is everything we want for the Indo-Pacific region, a vibrant democracy with a prosperous free-market economy. AIT’s new office will be more than just a building. It will serve as a tangible symbol of the enduring friendship between Washington, D.C. and Taipei, a relationship that you strongly reaffirmed in the 2017 National Security Strategy.”

The visit would be the first of its kind since the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act, a law Trump signed in March, to the chagrin of the Chinese. The recent use of lasers to injure a pair of American pilots, a senior Senate Republican suggested, was a “brush back pitch” thrown in retaliation over the law.

“They see us do things that could screw things up [for them] and we get some brush-back pitches now and again,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told the Washington Examiner during a recent interview. “[The Taiwan Travel Act], it bothered them a lot.”

China has cooperated with the U.S. to increase pressure on North Korea, but only up to a point; they’ve refused to apply the kind of pressure that would force Kim to decide between the collapse of his regime and denuclearization. Johnson suggested Chinese President Xi Jinping’s North Korea policy is part of an effort to roll back the U.S. military presence in the region.

“I suspect that maybe President Xi, behind the scenes with Kim Jong Un, is saying, 'Listen, you give this crap up, but what you have to get for it is, you got to get the U.S. to pull out; that’s your price for complete denuclearization,'” Johnson said.

But China is also deploying anti-ship missiles to a rtificial islands in the South China Sea, the kind of military build-up â€" in one of the most vital shipping lanes in the world â€" that makes some officials see a greater need than ever for the U.S. to remain strong in the region.

“If they've created a missile base that we can destroy, because we can position enough assets in the region that can penetrate defenses and destroy it, then we have neutralized that advantage,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told the Washington Examiner.

Trump made clear on Friday he doesn’t want to take actions, even sanctions on North Korea, that could upset the potential for a “friendly negotiation” with Kim. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hasn’t hesitated to send military forces through the South China Sea, notwithstanding Chinese objections. “Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion ,” Mattis said.

But China might react more belligerently to a U.S. delegation to Taiwan. “We have repeatedly emphasized that the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive one sitting at the core of the China-U.S. relationship,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday. “The U.S. should strictly adhere to the one-China principle and the three joint Communiques and prudently handle the Taiwan issue so as to avoid harming bilateral ties and cross-Straits peace and stability.”

Source: Google News Taiwan | Netizen 24 Taiwan

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