Mr. Speaker, the United States has long maintained an important and strategic partnership with Taiwan. As our tenth largest trading partner and a critical geopolitical counterbalance to Chinese expansionism, Taiwan deserves the full attention of our government.
On January 4, 2018, China’s civil aviation authority unilaterally announced that it would activate four air routes along its southeast coast near Taiwan, consisting of the M503 route and three east-west extension routes. These new air routes endanger aviation safety and threaten the delicate cross-strait status quo between China and Taiwan.
China’s newly declared air routes also violate International Civil Aviation Organization regulations and international norms. This unilateral action risks stoking instability in an already tense region and demonstrates China’s bullying behavior towards its smaller neighbors.
Our relationship with Taiwan is crucial for preserving Taipei’s independence and maintaining the beacon of liberty in East Asia. We are Taiwan’s largest foreign investor and third largest trading partner.
Over the years, the United States has provided Taiwan with billions of dollars in defense equipment to deter repeated Chinese aggression. Let us not forget that China is not a free society and has for decades aspired to subjugate Taiwan to its communist rule.
If we do not challenge Chinese unilateral action at each juncture, Beijing’s influence, military power, and economic might are sure to dominate the region—dimming the prospect of freedom for millions. Our allies in the region and our strategic interests are threatened by China’s campaign of expansion.
Right now, Taiwan and the greater region look to the United States to check the aggressive, communist regime in China. China’s incursion on Taiwanese air routes echoes its seizure of international waters in the South China Sea as well as its territorial disputes with our Indian and Japanese allies.
The United States should act to restore consultations between Chinese and Taiwanese authorities regarding aviation routes. We should target a rollback of China’s aviation routes to the status quo and allow Taiwan to negotiate for an agreement on this controversial airspace.
Small and subtle incursions on Taiwan by China should not be mistaken as insignificant. They represent a larger Chinese strategy to intimidate neighbors and bend international order towards its will.
We must stand firm with our allies and block Beijing’s efforts to dominate the region.
And that’s just the way it is.