- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — Trying to give weight to an issue that party officials say has been ignored in debates and on the campaign trail, members of the Republican National Committee hope to jar candidates’ attention with a resolution raising Taiwan’s security as a campaign issue.

The resolution, set to be introduced Friday at the RNC’s annual winter meeting by Oklahoma committee member Carolyn McLarty, aims to shoot down what some see as an Obama administration trial balloon in the form of a recent opinion column in the New York Times by Paul V. Kane, a Marine Corps veteran and former international security fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Mr. Kane called on Mr. Obama to “enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt” currently held by China. Mr. Kane said the write-off would be “in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015.”

Taiwan, which holds its own closely-watched presidential election on Saturday, is “potentially the biggest foreign policy challenge that a new president will face, so we want our candidates to know our position and help them formulate their own,” said Indiana RNC member James Bopp. “China may try to manipulate our foreign policy and become aggressive toward the rest of the world to distract attention from its own developing economic crisis.”

Pressured by Beijing, the Obama administration last year blocked the sale of F-16C/D fighters to Taiwan. For more than 60 years, Taiwan has been an ally, counting on U.S. military cooperation to defend itself against Beijing’s stated intention to bring the island nation under mainland rule, by force of arms if necessary.

Republicans have long been strong champions of democratic Taiwan, but the issue has barely emerged in the more than a dozen debates and hundreds of campaign events the GOP presidential candidates have held this year.

Ms. McLarty’s resolution notes that the Republican Party’s 2008 platform pledged that the United States, by law, “will help Taiwan defend itself” and facilitate “the timely sale of defensive arms.”

Historically, resolutions by the two major parties’ governing bodies are filed away and soon forgotten. To try to ensure that the Taiwan resolution has legs, Ms. McLarty and her 22 RNC co-sponsors added a provision to send the approved document to the party’s presidential hopefuls, a first for either party.

Resolution backers here said they are mystified by their candidates’ silence on Taiwan, particularly in the face of what they see as the Obama administration’s apparent indifference to its ally’s security and the threat posed by Beijing.

Delaware GOP Chairman John Sigler said he thinks it “imperative that all Republican candidates for federal office fully understand and appreciate Taiwan’s value as our closest ally against the blatant cyber-based economic aggression of Communist China.”

Added Illinois RNC member Demetra DeMonte, another resolution co-sponsor, “We would like this be an issue for the candidates in debates. So far, it hasn’t been.”

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