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U.S. commission proposes raising status of AIT director

ROC Central News Agency

12/02/2020 12:15 PM

Washington, Dec. 1 (CNA) A commission created by the United States Congress to monitor security and trade issues between the U.S. and China has recommended that the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, in effect treating it as an ambassadorial nomination.

In its annual report to Congress, the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) examined five key aspects of the U.S.-China relationship, including the countries' global competition, economic and trade relations, and Taiwan and Hong Kong.

In the section on Taiwan, the commission wrote that 2020 was a "pivotal" year for cross-strait relations, citing China's imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong and its intensifying military operations around Taiwan.

In economic terms, the report highlighted Taiwan's efforts to move global supply chains away from China as well as its decision to lift restrictions on U.S. meat imports, which it said showed Taiwan's commitment to reducing its economic reliance on China and forging better ties with the United States.

According to the report, "a growing chorus of voices in Washington policy circles are questioning whether China's mounting aggression toward Taipei and the deepening cross-Strait military imbalance necessitate a new U.S. approach to cross-Strait relations."

Policymakers, it said, face "an increasingly urgent and difficult set of choices about responses to China's coercion of Taiwan," and warned that the steps the U.S. government takes in the next few years will have "far-reaching consequences" for Taiwan, the region and the United States' standing in the world.

The report also contained a list of 19 policy recommendations, of which four pertained to Taiwan.

Among them, the commission called on Congress to enact legislation to make the director of the AIT a presidential nomination subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Though the report did not offer reasons for its recommendation, such a move would effectively raise the status of the position -- currently an internal State Department appointment -- by requiring that the same nominating process be used as for an ambassador.

Second, the report recommended amending the TAIPEI Act to stipulate that the U.S. will use its membership in international organizations to oppose any attempt by China to resolve Taiwan's status "by distorting the language, policies or procedures of the organization."

Less specifically, the commission said Congress should look to strengthen economic ties with Taiwan in key sectors where there are "unique reciprocal opportunities," citing the tech sector as an example.

Lastly, it said, Congress should encourage the president to include Taiwan in multilateral efforts to coordinate and strengthen supply chain cooperation and security, either by expanding the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) or through a new arrangement consisting of "likeminded democracies."

The USCC was established by the U.S. Congress in 2000, and is comprised of 12 commissioners, who are appointed to two-year terms by the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The commission's 2020 annual report, which runs to nearly 600 pages, was published on Tuesday.

(By Stacy Hsu and Matthew Mazzetta)


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