U.S. lawmakers used an event at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to praise Taiwan as an ally and a healthy alternative to China.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have been strained because of a growing trade dispute, China’s unwillingness to democratize and the threat of the spread of its illiberal influence as it reaches more regions of the world.
Wednesday’s event marked the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act, which provides a framework for continuing bilateral ties after Washington established official diplomatic ties with Beijing in 1979.
In praise of Taiwan
Some lawmakers used the occasion to praise relations between Washington and Taipei.
“We have to stick with the folks that are most like us and that we are most like, that is just how it has to be, and we should be unafraid to say it,” Congressman Scott Perry, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania, said.
“If we want to be leaders in the world and we do, we have to stick with our friends and our allies very closely and show the world who we believe in and where our allegiances lie,” Perry said. “We still want to trade with China, we still want to be good partners, however, we have a better partner.”
Perry told VOA that Taiwan is a natural partner and ally “especially compared to the government of China.” He quickly added that it is important to clarify that there’s a difference between the government of China and the people of China, “because there are many Chinese people who also agree with our values.”
Bipartisan, bicameral gathering
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also attended the event, which she described as a “celebration of the relationship” between the United States and Taiwan.
Pelosi pointed to the congressional members who were present at the event as evidence of “bipartisan, bicameral expression and manifestation of support and recognition of the importance of the Taiwan Relations Act,” which she described as having fostered an “unshakable bond between the United States and Taiwan.”
She also spoke about how impressed she was with the “vitality of the country” on her visit to the island, adding, “I can’t wait to go back again … my understanding is, the best Chinese food in the world is in Taiwan!”
The event, co-hosted by Taiwan Causes in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, drew more than two dozen senators and congressmen.
Humbled by US support
As the event concluded, Stanley Kao, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, told VOA that he was humbled by the broad show of support for Taiwan among U.S. lawmakers.
Kao said Taiwan will continue to uphold the values that endear it to the United States and other democracies around the world.
“We ourselves must zheng-qi,” he said, invoking the traditional Chinese phrase meaning “fight for and be worthy of one’s own breath.”