Republicans to reuse 2016 platform, reaffirm guarantees to Taiwan

A polling place in San Jose, California before U.S. primary elections earlier this year (CNA)

WASHINGTON (CNA) — The U.S. Republican Party on Sunday announced that it will reuse its 2016 party platform — in which it affirmed its commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and the “Six Assurances” — at its presidential convention this week.

In a statement released before the start of its Aug. 24-27 convention, the party said the COVID-19 pandemic had forced it to scale back the size of the event, preventing delegates from gathering in person to formulate a new platform.

As relates to Taiwan, the decision means the party will continue to back supportive language contained in its 2016 document, which was the first ever to include a reference to the “Six Assurances.”

“Our relations will continue to be based upon the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, and we affirm the Six Assurances given to Taiwan in 1982 by President Reagan,” the platform states, stressing that the sides share the common values of democracy, human rights, a free market economy and the rule of law.

The Six Assurances include U.S. pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.

They also include assurances that the U.S. will not revise the Taiwan Relations Act or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.

Describing Taiwan as a “loyal friend of America,” the platform expresses support for a U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement, the timely sale of defensive arms, including technology to build diesel submarines, and full participation in multilateral institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

On the issue of cross-Taiwan Strait relations, the platform opposes any unilateral steps by either side to alter the status quo, and says that all issues regarding the island’s future must be resolved peacefully, through dialogue.

However, it warns that “if China were to violate those principles, the United States, in accord with the Taiwan Relations Act, will help Taiwan defend itself.”

The U.S. Democratic Party, meanwhile, released its 2020 platform during its own nominating convention last week.

In an expanded section on the Asia-Pacific region, the party said it believed “the China challenge is not primarily a military one,” but said it would “deter and respond to aggression.”

“We will underscore our global commitment to freedom of navigation and resist the Chinese military’s intimidation in the South China Sea,” it continued.

On the issue of Taiwan, the party reiterated its commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and said it would “continue to support a resolution of cross-strait issues consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.”

The U.S. presidential election, which is scheduled for Nov. 3, will see President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the Republican Party face off against Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

The winner of the election will take office on Jan. 20, 2021.