House Passes 4 Amendments to Strengthen US-Taiwan Relations

Among them is the 'honest maps' amendment, which prohibits the Department of Defense from displaying any map showing Taiwan as part of China.
House Passes 4 Amendments to Strengthen US-Taiwan Relations
A military statue and Taiwanese flag on top of an arch built in remembrance of the Battle of Guningtou in 1949 at Taiwan's Kinmen islands on Oct. 20, 2020. Kinmen islands lie just 2 miles from the mainland China coast (in background) in the Taiwan Strait. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved four amendments proposed by Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) that seek to boost ties between the United States and Taiwan and move away from the “One China” policy.

These amendments, passed on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, respectively, were integrated into the Department of Defense Appropriations Act and the Department of State Appropriations Act.

Among the amendments is the “honest maps” amendment, which prohibits the Department of Defense from creating, procuring, or displaying any map portraying Taiwan as part of China’s territory.

Mr. Tiffany urged Washington to abandon its "One China" policy—which recognizes there is only one China and acknowledges the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) stance on Taiwan—calling it “an antiquated and dishonest policy.”

“All of us know that Taiwan is not—nor has it ever been—part of communist China," he told the House. "Since the 1970s, America’s so-called 'One China' policy has acknowledged Beijing’s bogus claims over Taiwan.

“While my amendment will not end that misguided policy, it will at least require that the maps that we use reflect a simple reality: China is China, and Taiwan is Taiwan.”

His second amendment removes the State Department’s restrictions that previously limited communication and cooperation between U.S. officials and their counterparts in Taiwan.

“America does not need a permission slip from communist China to talk to friends and allies. And that policy should end today,” Mr. Tiffany remarked.

He said the restrictions, imposed “at the behest of communist China,” prevent high-ranking U.S. officials from visiting Taiwan and warn U.S. officials not to refer to Taiwan as a country or its elected leaders as a government.

“In essence, they are designed to prevent and limit high-level interaction between U.S. and Taiwanese officials—despite the fact that it has been official U.S. policy since 2018 to encourage and facilitate them,” he said.

On Sept. 28, the House approved Mr. Tiffany's amendment that will end the State Department policy of relegating Taiwan's elected leaders to short U.S. transits in cities often far from Washington.

Another amendment approved on the same day will lift restrictions on communication between U.S. and Taiwanese officials previously imposed by the State Department through a 2021 memo.

 Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) asks questions at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 21, 2023. (House Judiciary Committee/Screenshot via NTD)
Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) asks questions at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 21, 2023. (House Judiciary Committee/Screenshot via NTD)

Mr. Tiffany said the Trump administration lifted these restrictions, but were reinstated after President Joe Biden took office.

“We don’t have rules like this for U.S. interaction with communist China … Biden administration officials continue to sit down at the table with the same CCP officials who our own Secretary of State has accused of committing genocide,” he argued.

“Yet we continue to enforce these degrading conditions on Taiwan, a longtime friend and fellow democracy,” the Republican politician added.

Taiwan is a constant source of friction between the United States and China. The Chinese regime staged a three-day military drill around the self-ruled island in April after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in California, sending 91 warplanes and 12 naval vessels on the final day of its drills.

The CCP claims Taiwan is a renegade province that must be united with the mainland by any means necessary, even though the island nation has never been ruled by the CCP and has been a self-governing democracy since the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949.

The United States formally recognizes—but doesn't endorse—the CCP’s position. The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Still, Washington is bound by the Taiwan Relations Act to provide the island with the arms necessary for self-defense and to prevent any unilateral changes to the status quo.

In May 2022, President Biden said Washington would defend Taiwan if the Chinese regime attacked the island.

"Look, here’s the situation. We agree with a ‘One China’ policy; we’ve signed onto it, and all the intended agreements made from there. But the idea that [Taiwan] can be taken by force ... is just not appropriate," he told reporters in Tokyo.

Though President Biden has made similar comments several times in the past, White House staff have always rushed to clarify that there was no official change in the United States’ Taiwan policy, in which it vows not to unilaterally advocate for Taiwanese independence.

Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.