The Hill: Trump and Congress should partner on China’s human rights — and on Taiwan

In parallel with the legislative measures that address the human rights issues in China, Congress repeatedly has taken action to support the democratic security of Taiwan. It passed the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA), which encourages high-level visits and exchanges between American and Taiwanese officials to reaffirm the commitment expressed in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.  The president signed the TTA into law over China’s strong objections.

McCaul, joined by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), introduced the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019 calling for a fresh review of bilateral relations with Taiwan, “with the intent to deepen and expand United States-Taiwan relations … based on the value, merits and importance of the United States-Taiwan relationship.” The measure notes that “Taiwan is a free and open society that respects universal human rights and democratic values,” and passed the House by a voice vote.

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision requiring the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to Congress on Chinese interference in Taiwan’s Jan. 11 election. The report is due before the end of February.

Congress’s strong determination to take on China’s deplorable human rights record in Tibet, East Turkestan/Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and to affirm America’s commitment to Taiwan, offers important lessons for both Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Trump.

For Xi, it means that Congress, reflecting American public opinion, has no further tolerance for the Chinese Communist Party’s grievous mistreatment of the people it rules in violation of all international norms, and its aggressive ambitions toward Taiwan.  Other countries as well are expressing their distaste for Beijing’s domestic governance as the Chinese Communist Party edges precariously toward international pariah status.

President Trump should ensure that his administration faithfully carries out all of Congress’s human rights and Taiwan mandates. They strengthen his hand in dealing with the Chinese Communist regime, and their cumulative effect provides a unique opportunity for him to grasp the leadership role on human rights with a willing and supportive Congress behind him.

The opening is widened by global resentment at Beijing’s mishandling of the coronavirus epidemic. The regime’s inclination to favor government secrecy over the free flow of essential public information was a major factor in the spread of earlier pandemics and public health crises with SARS, swine flu, bird flu, and HIV/AIDS.

President Trump should call on Xi to emulate the model performance of Taiwan on all those earlier urgent challenges, and to take advantage of its superlative expertise in public health. Allowing Taiwan to participate fully in the World Health Organization would afford Xi the opportunity to make a badly-needed demonstration of statesmanship and meet China’s obligation to the international community.

Trump should encourage his Chinese friend to act responsibly and respond to the wake-up calls he is receiving from Congress and the global community.

Full editorial by Joseph Bosco:

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