Real Clear World
Date: July 20, 2020
By: Maseh Zarif
Thirty-eight years ago, American diplomat James Lilley undertook a sensitive mission in Taipei on behalf of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. On July 14, 1982, the head of the de-facto American embassy conveyed to Taiwanese President Chiang Ching-Kuo what became known as the “six assurances” that help guide U.S.-Taiwan relations on issues of sovereignty and defense. The assurances, and Lilley's visit to the Taiwanese president's home to deliver them, signaled Wasington's commitment to Taiwan’s security.
Reagan’s message for Taiwan as he negotiated with China was clear: America would not abandon Taiwan even as Washington pursued diplomatic relations with Beijing. The gesture also underscored that the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, a feat of Congressional leadership on foreign affairs, would remain the cornerstone for robust cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan.
The United States is now navigating a new strategic shift to confront the Chinese Communist Party’s growing threat to America’s vital interests, which include the geopolitical makeup of the Indo-Pacific region. Changes are in order, but so too is a measure of continuity in the ongoing project to deepen the bonds between the United States and Taiwan.
Specifically, the U.S. Congress should work with the Trump administration in the coming weeks and months to solidify bilateral ties with Taiwan, strengthen Taiwan’s defense posture, and shore up Taipei’s role in shaping an international system conducive to shared American and Taiwanese values and interests. [FULL STORY]