GOP Senators Ask Pelosi to Invite Taiwan President to Speak to Congress

GOP Senators Ask Pelosi to Invite Taiwan President to Speak to Congress
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, on Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Wu Taijing)

WASHINGTON — Several GOP senators urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to invite the president of Taiwan to address a joint session of Congress, a move that would surely infuriate China.

President Trump has praised China’s authoritarian leader Xi Jingping as “great,” and lauded Xi’s moves to become “president for life.” Late last month, Trump vowed to meet with Xi soon to reach “the biggest deal ever made” on trade.

Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texss), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), though, told Pelosi in a letter today the time is right to invite Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen, a move that would be “consistent with U.S. law, enhance U.S. leadership in the Indo-Pacific region, and justly reward a true friend and ally of the United States and the American people.”

April 10 marks the 10th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires that “the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.”

Lee Ching-yu, whose Taiwan activist husband Lee Ming-che is imprisoned by China, was the State of the Union guest of Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who leads the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Rubio is the Senate leader of the panel.

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has continued to escalate its rhetoric and actions that threaten Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty. Since the May 2016 inauguration of President Tsai, five nations have withdrawn diplomatic recognition from Taiwan, due to pressure from Beijing. In his New Year’s message earlier this month, PRC President Xi Jinping would not rule out the use of force to “re-unify” mainland China and Taiwan,” the senators’ letter to Pelosi continues.

They noted that there is “clear precedent for inviting prominent democratic leaders” and not just heads of state, including Lech Walesa in 1989 and Nelson Mandela in 1990.

“President Tsai is a genuine democratic leader engaged in a struggle against an authoritarian and oppressive system that seeks to deny the Taiwanese people democratic rights and fundamental freedoms,” the letter adds. “Extending an invitation for President Tsai to address a joint session of Congress in this historic year for U.S.-Taiwan relations would send a powerful message that the United States and the American people will always stand with the oppressed, and never the oppressor.”

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