The Senate Bill, S. 4428 - Taiwan Policy Act is a product of complex bipartisan political wave and a long-time lobbying force pushing for Taiwan Independence. There was a pro-Taiwan lobbying effort in the U.S. since 1996 when Lee Deng Hui betrayed the KMT party’s one China policy. Lee’s visit to and speech at Cornell University in 1996 in fact created a military fiasco in the Taiwan Strait that the U.S. had to put out the fire. The U.S. Administration in the subsequent two decades had to constrain the Taiwan government to adhere to the one China principle which is recognized by the U.S. as the foundation for U.S.-China formal diplomatic relation. Chen Shui Bien Administration (2001-2008) reluctantly obliged (President Bush called him troublemaker) and the following Ma Yin-Jiou Administration (2009-2016) made significant improvement in the cross-strait relationship. Then Tsai Yin Wen won the election in 2016 on an ambiguous promise of “Maintaining Current Status” (peaceful and huge trade surplus with Mainland China) but turned 180 degrees to disengage with Mainland China and to promote an anti-China policy after she took office.
The above developments coincided with the cycles of the U.S. presidential elections, exactly from 2008, 2016 through 2020-22 election cycles. Trump won in 2016 by advocating “make America great again” and blame the U.S. problems on China’s rise: stealing American jobs, making trade surplus and threatening U.S. securities with rapid development. This political wave was so strong, though irrationally fanned, when Joe Biden challenged Trump in 2020 presidential election, he had to ride on the anti-China wave and step on the red lines defined an ambiguous U.S.-Taiwan relation. Hence the “targeting China” policy rose in Biden’s Administration with amplification. The U.S. Administration and Congress have jointly created a set of legislations and policies to maintain a trade war and a sanction policy on technologies and hi-tech products against China. Diplomatically, the U.S. is lobbying her Allie’s to join in the ‘targeting China’ effort. After exhausting the ‘Hong Kong card’ and spending the ‘Xinjiang card’ with no severe damage to China, the ‘Taiwan Card’ is now used like a rash, tumor or cancer to hurt, retard or suffocate China’s rapid development in economy and many other domains, including space. Mainland China’s extreme sensitivity to the Taiwan unification issue was largely regarded exploitable by U.S. political scholars and politicians.
S. 4428 - Taiwan Policy Act is sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ, Chairman of FRC) and cosponsored by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on June 14, 2022 after hearings held since December 2021. Menendez argued that Taiwan is a successful and prosperous democracy which we should cherish but he failed to recognize that Taiwan’s success was built on a generous surplus trade with Mainland China (Surplus equals $133.84B, 42% of Taiwan’s export to China is $188.9B and only 10% of export is to the U.S.)The bill essentially contains three main thrusts, one, symbolically raises Taiwan’s status by suggesting changing Taiwan’s diplomatic office name and statue, two, helps Taiwan to engage in the international organizations and three, supports Taiwan defense by beefing up Taiwan’s ammunition reserve and weapons as well as offering military training and strategic guidance. This bill was passed by Senate FRC by 17:5 with some amendments of toning down the provocative diplomatic office name change but increasing the military reserve support to an amount of $6.5B that can be written off over five years. These amendments appeared to be a response to the unspecified concerns from White House and a few sensible Senators' critical comments. Ed Markey (D-Mass), who led a congressional delegate visiting Taiwan (August 14-15, 2022) right after the controversial visit by Nancy Pelosi, feared the bill would undermine strategic ambiguity. He seemed to have understood the sentiments of Taiwan people by saying that “It is the people living on Taiwan who are facing the daily realities … and will be the ones targeted in reaction to changes in U.S. policies. We should not take actions that put Taiwan at increased risk, with little reward.” Markey also made a sensible remark, "do everything we can to avoid a situation that could draw two nuclear-armed countries into a conflict." We need more sensible Senators and Congressmen to work on legislations.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), among four Democratic no votes, wants to revise Taiwan policy but in a way that “doesn’t precipitate a conflict. He is very honest about military support and security guarantee: “My interest is in increasing the material support we give to Taiwan. I’m less enthusiastic about changes in law that would provide formal or quasi recognition to the government in Taiwan for changes that would push us closer to a security guarantee,” Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) both did not support the bill because of the ‘symbolic change’ issue and Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) also voted against the bill with criticism that the proposal is a move toward strategic clarity and a potential reversal of the One China policy. “This is not a time to radically change long-standing policy … without an appreciation of the consequences that may follow,” Paul said. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) voted in favor of the bill but commented that the original version was “too forward leaning and potentially provocative.” Dave DeCamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, in a tweet expressed that, the bill, if passed, "will be the most radical change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan since the 1970s and will make war much more likely."
As reported in Gov/track.US, the Taiwan Policy Act has a 14% chance of being enacted into law predicted by Skopos Labs, an AI research entity. This bill was first introduced on June 16, 2022 by sponsor Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and cosponsor Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee then held two meetings on July 19th and August 3rd respectively on the bill and ordered to report to the Senate Chamber on September 14th, after the 17:5 passing vote, an updated version was produced on September 15th. This bill will be scheduled on Senate agenda for a discussion and debate. After Senate approval, a final version will be sent to the House for committee and chamber review. The House final version will go through a joint-chamber review, revision and approval before sending the final to the White House for President’s acceptance or rejection. Hence, the 14% chance of enacting S. 4428 into law is quite logical. However, since the consequence of the enactment of this bill is extremely dangerous, not only with possibility of breaking the U.S.-China diplomatic relations but also with a chance of creating a devastating war in the Taiwan Strait forcing the U.S. to enter into an un-winnable war or lose credibility. This author sincerely urges every American citizen to write to his or her Senators and Congressman or women of the 117th session of Congress and all candidates running for the 118th Congress to make effort to squash this war-triggering bill in their sessions. The people in Taiwan do not want to turn Taiwan into another Ukraine!