Bacon in Taiwan

From left, former House Speaker Paul Ryan; Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb.; and Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., on a trip to Taiwan marking the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act.

WASHINGTON — Official U.S. policy toward Taiwan and its relationship with China has long been intentionally vague, but Rep. Don Bacon thinks it’s time for more clarity that America has Taiwan’s back.

“Sometimes ambiguity leads to miscalculation,” Bacon said. “China needs to know Taiwan is a success story and we can’t leave our friends sitting out there by themselves. They should not be isolated, and China is trying to isolate them.”

Omaha’s Republican congressman spoke to The World-Herald by phone this week from Taiwan, where he joined a bipartisan delegation of House members and former Speaker Paul Ryan.

Their agenda included a ribbon-cutting on a new center that will serve diplomatic functions without being an official U.S. embassy, meetings with top leaders and panel discussions.

The lawmakers’ visit marked the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act that has formed the basis of de facto diplomatic relations between the United States and Taiwan.

Bacon cited Taiwan’s economic success and flourishing democracy. In contrast to China, Taiwan has protections for free speech, press and religion.

“They’ve really blossomed as a country,” Bacon said. “I just think we owe it to be clear that Taiwan is a success story and we have to support their democracy.”

China has stepped up its pressure on Taiwan with provocative military drills, trade actions and attempts to force other countries around the world to sever ties with Taiwan.

Bacon sponsored legislation that was included in the last defense authorization bill calling on the Pentagon to review Taiwan’s military needs and recommend ways that the United States can support them.

He said he’s waiting for that report to see what further help Congress can give Taiwan.

“We want to make sure Taiwan knows that they have friends and that they’re not isolated,” Bacon said.

Bacon said they certainly don’t want to provoke a war in that part of the world and that everyone is safer if American values are embraced around the globe.

“America has an obligation to stand by those who have embraced freedom and our way of life,” Bacon said.

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