- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I was gladdened to read James A. Lyons Jr.'s excellent Op-Ed column on Taiwan (“Need to bolster Taiwan defenses,” Opinion, Friday). Mr. Lyons managed to convey with clarity the geostrategic nuance involved in the U.S.-Taiwan-China relationship, as well as the extraordinary degree to which the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) continues to meet the challenges posed by such a delicate diplomatic scenario in the Western Pacific.

As Mr. Lyons states, Taiwan is indeed an “electric multiparty democracy” and a model for individual freedom and political equality in the region. For the past 30 years, the U.S. deftly sustained the strong support for Taiwan that the island's free-market, democratizing society warranted while continuing to expand economic and diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China. The passage and signing of the TRA in 1979 codified a sophisticated foreign policy that continues to serve the United States in good stead when it comes to our present relations with Taipei and Beijing.

During his candidacy for president, Barack Obama voiced his admiration for Taiwan's democratic growth and acknowledged that President Ma Ying-jeou's conciliatory stance toward China held great promise for improved cross-strait relations. Since then, relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have improved drastically, yet China still has deployed on its southwestern coast an arsenal of more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, maintained as a threat to hang over the heads of Taiwan's people and government. This underscores the importance of America's continued commitment to provide Taiwan with the necessary defensive articles for preserving military balance across the strait.

While President Obama works to establish a strategic and economic dialogue with China, he may wish to reaffirm his support for the TRA by making a statement similar to the resolution passed by Congress on March 24. Hopefully, the TRA will continue to be an effective tool of U.S. foreign policy for many years to come.

JAMES FINNEGAN

Washington

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