LOS ANGELES—Recently back from his first foreign trip as the new chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) talked about his ideas and agenda in helping Taiwan, freedom, and Southern California at his new district office in Diamond Plaza, Rowland Heights, which had its grand opening on Feb. 10, the first day of Chinese New Year.
In his visit to East Asia, which included Taiwan, China, the Philippines, and South Korea, Royce led a six-member bipartisan congressional delegation and one brigadier general of the United States military. In Taiwan, Royce visited both Taipei, the capital, in the north and took the bullet train to Kaohsiung in the south.
“We had an opportunity to go to the naval base and meet with the admirals, the officers, and the cadets. We discussed the needs that Taiwan has under the Taiwan Relations Act,” said Royce.
The delegation went on a submarine that is used for training and has been in use since 1943. After seeing the vintage World War II-era vessel, Royce told the crowd at his Rowland Heights office, “Taiwan has a need for upgrading or updating their submarines. We are working at making this happen, trying to introduce legislation. We are also assisting some of the needs of the Taiwanese Air Force.”
On its last day in Taiwan, the delegation made an announcement that the United States and Taiwan would restart the TIFA (Trade and Investment Framework Agreement) talks.
“Let me explain why this is important. It’s our goal to strengthen the economy of Taiwan. A free trade agreement with Taiwan will not only assist the trade between Taiwan and the United States but also help Taiwan to obtain free trade agreements with Europe,” said Royce.
As the co-author of the legislation Visa Waiver Program for Taiwanese, Royce spent several years supporting it until it was finally pushed through successfully in October 2012. “This [TIFA] is likewise a long, arduous process. But now that we’ve got the Visa waiver program through, we will double the TIFA effort,” Royce said.
He viewed it as a win-win for both Taiwan and his constituents in California. “The tourism will come here,” he said. “It will be very important to local restaurants in San Gabriel Valley, the local malls, such as the mall that I’m in right now—the Diamond Plaza. It’s also going to be very important for small business in this area because, on average, the dollars spent when people visit this area will really help create more jobs.”
With the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Royce believes that the U.S. foreign policy focus, and certainly his focus as chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, is on Asia.
“There will be $22 trillion in new wealth created over the next five years; $11 trillion of that will be created in Asia. In the state of California, positioned as we are in the Pacific Rim with all of the trade that we are engaged in, now it’s the time for us to look at increasing these opportunities starting with Taiwan because our Taiwanese American population here is a good place to start—the best place to start,” Royce said.
Well into his 11th term as a congressman, Royce said he was still excited and energetic about the opportunities lying ahead. Having served in the Foreign Relations Committee for many years, Royce said he feels like he’s learned a lot. “Now as chairman, I can put a lot of my experiences into more effective public policies.” The chairman in this committee can serve as many as six years.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Royce is equally enthusiastic when talking about Southern California. In response to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent pitch to lure businesses away from California’s higher taxes, Royce apparently has little worries: “I’ve done business in Texas years ago. I know how hard it can be in Texas. Personally, I’ve never wanted to live in that heat.”
Citing the UC and California State University educational systems and some of the best schools in his district, such as in Walnut, Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, and Hacienda Heights, Royce believes that “the educational opportunities that are here for young people are tremendous. There is no place like Southern California, no place that is more inviting to raise a family or to live.”
Over the years, Rep. Royce has stood for issues like human rights, freedom, and individual liberty. He attributes part of this resolve to his own family experience.
“My father was here today at the grand opening. He is 88 years old and his birthday is on Chinese New Year. He was with the U.S. Air Force when they liberated a concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. He took photographs of what he saw there.”
“When we see the inhumanity that occurred during World War II, as well as the photographs about what happened in Nanjing [massacre], you realize how important it is that we are engaged on behalf of human rights, and that we are involved in educating the next generation of the importance in taking a stand against the type of fanaticism that led to the losses of human life in Europe and in Asia,” said Royce.
Royce believes human rights are very important and that America has a very special role to play “because our constitution was founded on the basis of ideas—the fundamental ideal is free speech, individual rights and individual liberty—so we have a special responsibility to speak up.”
Royce was very much inspired by former President Ronald Reagan, who was also the 33rd governor of California. “I was involved in Youth for Reagan when I was in university. What Reagan said is to never be afraid to take a stand, and to do what was right even if it’s not popular at the moment.”
“He knew that we would evolve societies away from totalitarianism, away from communism and toward more freedom. Thanks to his resolve, we saw that, in East Europe and in the Soviet Union, freedom won. I talked to young Poles, young Czechs, and young East Germans who really appreciate his resolve because millions of people were set free behind the iron curtain,” said Royce.
Royce believes in Reagan’s assertion that a free market system, free societies, and ultimate human fulfillment are created from the bottom up, “[Reagan] said that those are not created from government down. They are created by the people. I think that is a very profound insight about human society and about freedom.”
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