Republican Senators Push for Invitation to Taiwanese President to Address Congress

The Associated Press
Kyodo News via AP

A group of Republican senators on Thursday asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to invite Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to address a joint session of Congress, suggesting April 10 as an ideal date because it will mark the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act.

The letter urging an invitation for President Tsai was signed by senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The senators stressed the invitation would be consistent with U.S. law and bipartisan congressional support for Taiwan, citing the 2018 Taiwan Travel Act and its authorization for high-level Taiwanese officials to visit the United States and meet with representatives of the U.S. government.

“While we understand that the honor of addressing a joint address to Congress is generally reserved for recognized heads of state, there is also clear precedent for inviting prominent democratic leaders,” the signatories noted. “On November 15, 1989, Lech Walesa addressed a joint session of Congress as chairman of the Solidarity movement. On June 26, 1990, Nelson Mandela addressed a joint session of Congress as deputy president of the African National Congress.”

“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. 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,” they declared.

Sen. Cruz discussed his desire to have Tsai address Congress with reporters after giving a speech at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, offering it as a perfect way to let China know the United States is serious about its alliance with Taiwan and meant every word of the Taiwan Travel Act.

Cruz said the people of Taiwan have an extraordinary story to tell about “standing up to Chinese oppression and creating an economic jewel, an economic powerhouse.”

“You want an illustration of whether freedom or totalitarianism works, compare Taiwan and China side by side,” he said.

Reuters reported on Friday that Speaker Pelosi’s office refused to comment on the letter, while the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there are currently no plans for President Tsai to visit Washington or address Congress. There have been unconfirmed reports that Tsai might stop in New York on her way to visit Taiwan’s allies in the Caribbean this year.

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