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Monday, June 28, 2010

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990

Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

This report discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. Congress has oversight of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, which has governed arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. Two other relevant parts of the "one China" policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the "Six Assurances" to Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been significant. The United States also has expanded military ties with Taiwan after the PRC's missile firings in 1995-1996. However, the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty terminated in 1979. 

At the last annual U.S.-Taiwan arms sales talks on April 24, 2001, President George W. Bush approved for possible sale diesel-electric submarines, P-3 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft (linked to the submarine sale), four decommissioned U.S. Kidd-class destroyers, and other items. Bush also deferred decisions on Aegis-equipped destroyers and other items, while denying other requests. Afterward, attention turned to Taiwan, where the military, civilian officials, and legislators from competing political parties debated contentious issues about how much to spend on defense and which U.S. weapons to acquire, despite the increasing threat (including a missile buildup) from the People's Liberation Army (PLA). In 2003, the Bush Administration pointed Taiwan to three priorities for defense: command and control, missile defense, and ASW. Since then, the Pentagon has broadened its concern from Taiwan's arms purchases to its defense spending, seriousness in self-defense and protection of secrets, joint capabilities, operational readiness, critical infrastructure protection, and asymmetrical advantages. Blocked by the Kuomintang (KMT) party in the Legislative Yuan (LY) that opposed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s president (2000-2008), the Special Budget (not passed) for submarines, P-3C ASW aircraft, and PAC-3 missile defense systems was cut from $18 billion in 2004 to $9 billion (for submarines only) in 2005. In March 2006, Taiwan's defense minister requested a 2006 Supplemental Defense Budget (not passed) in part for submarine procurement, P-3Cs, and PAC-2 upgrades (not new PAC-3 missiles). In June 2007, the LY passed Taiwan's 2007 defense budget with funds for P-3C planes, PAC-2 upgrades, and F-16C/D fighters. In December 2007, the LY approved $62 million to start the sub design phase. After the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou became President in May 2008, Taiwan retained the requests but has cut the defense budgets. 

Attention also turned to U.S. decisions on pending arms sales. In 2008, congressional concerns mounted about a suspected "freeze" in President Bush's notifications to Congress on arms sales. On October 3, 2008, Bush finally notified Congress. However, he submitted six of the eight pending programs (not a "package") for a combined value of $6.5 billion. Despite the concerns in 2008, President Obama repeated that cycle to wait to decide on submissions for congressional review all at one time (on January 29, 2010) five programs with a total value of $6.4 billion. Like Bush, President Obama did not notify the submarine design program (the only one pending from decisions in 2001) and did not accept Taiwan's request for F-16C/D fighters (pending since 2006). Legislation in the 111th Congress include: National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2010, P.L. 111-84; H.Res. 733 (Gingrey); H.Con.Res. 200 (Andrews); H.R. 4102 (Ros- Lehtinen); and H.Res. 927 (Barton). Moreover, Senators Cornyn, Inhofe, and Lieberman stressed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates the NDAA's directive for an assessment of Taiwan's air defense forces, including its F-16 fighters. Submitted on February 16, the assessment found that Taiwan has diminished ability to deny the PRC air superiority. On May 12, 136 Representatives sent President Obama a letter to urge a sale of F-16 fighters to Taiwan. He has not responded.


Date of Report: June 15, 2010
Number of Pages: 67
Order Number: RL30957
Price: $29.95

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990

Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs


This report, updated as warranted, discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. Congress has oversight of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, which has governed arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. Two other relevant parts of the "one China" policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the "Six Assurances" to Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been significant. The United States also has expanded military ties with Taiwan after the PRC's missile firings in 1995-1996. However, the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty terminated in 1979. 

At the last annual U.S.-Taiwan arms sales talks on April 24, 2001, President George W. Bush approved for possible sale diesel-electric submarines, P-3 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft (linked to the submarine sale), four decommissioned U.S. Kidd-class destroyers, and other items. Bush also deferred decisions on Aegis-equipped destroyers and other items, while denying other requests. Afterward, attention turned to Taiwan, where the military, civilian officials, and legislators from competing political parties debated contentious issues about how much to spend on defense and which U.S. weapons to acquire, despite the increasing threat (including a missile buildup) from the People's Liberation Army (PLA). In 2003, the Bush Administration pointed Taiwan to three priorities for defense: command and control, missile defense, and ASW. Since then, the Pentagon has broadened its concern from Taiwan's arms purchases to its defense spending, seriousness in self-defense and protection of secrets, joint capabilities, operational readiness, critical infrastructure protection, and asymmetrical advantages. Blocked by the Kuomintang (KMT) party in the Legislative Yuan (LY) that opposed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s president (2000-2008), the Special Budget (not passed) for submarines, P-3C ASW aircraft, and PAC-3 missile defense systems was cut from $18 billion in 2004 to $9 billion (for submarines only) in 2005. In March 2006, Taiwan's defense minister requested a 2006 Supplemental Defense Budget (not passed) in part for submarine procurement, P-3Cs, and PAC-2 upgrades (not new PAC-3 missiles). In June 2007, the LY passed Taiwan's 2007 defense budget with funds for P-3C planes, PAC-2 upgrades, and F-16C/D fighters. In December 2007, the LY approved $62 million to start the sub design phase. After the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou became President in May 2008, Taiwan retained the requests but has cut the defense budgets. 

Attention also turned to U.S. decisions on pending arms sales. In 2008, congressional concerns mounted about a suspected "freeze" in President Bush's notifications to Congress on arms sales. On October 3, 2008, Bush finally notified Congress. However, he submitted six of the eight pending programs (not a "package") for a combined value of $6.5 billion. Despite the concerns in 2008, President Obama continued that process to wait to decide on submissions for congressional review all at one time (on January 29, 2010) five programs with a total value of $6.4 billion. Like Bush, President Obama did not notify the submarine design program (the only one pending from decisions in 2001) and did not accept Taiwan's request for F-16C/D fighters (pending since 2006). Legislation in the 111th Congress include: National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2010, P.L. 111-84; H.Res. 733 (Gingrey); H.Con.Res. 200 (Andrews); H.R. 4102 (Ros- Lehtinen); and H.Res. 927 (Barton). Moreover, Senators Cornyn, Inhofe, and Lieberman stressed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates the NDAA's directive for an assessment of Taiwan's air defense forces, including its F-16 fighters. Submitted on February 16, the assessment found that Taiwan has diminished ability to deny the PRC air superiority. On May 12, 136 Representatives sent President Obama a letter to urge a sale of F-16 fighters to Taiwan. He has not responded. 
.


Date of Report: June 10, 2010
Number of Pages: 67
Order Number: RL30957
Price: $29.95

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Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

Emma Chanlett-Avery, Coordinator
Specialist in Asian Affairs

William H. Cooper
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

Mark E. Manyin
Specialist in Asian Affairs

The post-World War II U.S.-Japan alliance has long been an anchor of the U.S. security role in East Asia. The alliance facilitates the forward deployment of about 36,000 U.S. troops and other U.S. military assets in the Asia-Pacific, thereby undergirding U.S. national security strategy in the region. For Japan, the alliance and the U.S. nuclear umbrella provide maneuvering room in dealing with its neighbors, particularly China and North Korea. 

U.S.-Japan relations have been adjusting to the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) landslide victory in the August 30, 2009 elections for the Lower House of Japan's legislature. With the resignation of the DPJ's first prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, the United States must now adjust to the leadership of Naoto Kan, the new premier. While most members of the left-of-center DPJ are broadly supportive of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the general thrust of Japanese foreign policy, in the past the party has questioned and/or voted against several features of the alliance, including base realignment and Japan's financial payments for U.S. forces stationed in Japan. The Party has put forward a foreign policy vision that envisions greater "equality" in Japan's relations with the United States, in part through deeper engagement with Asia and a more United Nations oriented diplomacy. The DPJ's victory appears to mark the end of an era in Japan; it was the first time Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was voted out of office. The LDP had ruled Japan virtually uninterrupted since 1955. 

After the DPJ victory, bilateral tensions arose over the 2006 agreement to relocate the controversial Futenma Marine Air Station to a less densely populated location on Okinawa. The move is to be the first part of a planned realignment of U.S. forces in Asia, designed in part to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces on Okinawa by redeploying 8,000 U.S. Marines and their dependents to new facilities in Guam. After months of indecision and mixed messages from Tokyo, the Hatoyama government agreed to honor the original agreement, much to the dismay of the many Okinawans opposed to the base. Kan has voiced his intention to honor the agreement, although many concerns remain about its implementation. 

Japan is one of the United States' most important economic partners. Outside of North America, it is the United States' second-largest export market and second-largest source of imports. Japanese firms are the United States' second-largest source of foreign direct investment, and Japanese investors are the second-largest foreign holders of U.S. treasuries, helping to finance the U.S. deficit and reduce upward pressure on U.S. interest rates. Bilateral trade friction has decreased in recent years, partly because U.S. concern about the trade deficit with Japan has been replaced by concern about a much larger deficit with China. One exception was U.S. criticism over Japan's decision in 2003 to ban imports of U.S. beef, which have since resumed, but on a limited basis. 

However, the economic problems in Japan and the United States associated with the credit crisis and the related economic recession and how the two countries deal with those problems will likely dominate their bilateral economic agenda for the foreseeable future. Japan has been hit particularly hard by the financial crisis and subsequent recession. Japan's gross domestic product (GDP) declined 1.2% in 2008 and 5.2% in 2009 and is forecast to grow 2.8% in 2010. At the same time, the United States is showing some signs of recovery, at least according to some indicators.


Date of Report: June 11, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: RL33436
Price: $29.95

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China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The question of how the United States should respond to China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has emerged as a key issue in U.S. defense planning. The issue is of particular importance to the U.S. Navy, because many U.S. military programs for countering improved Chinese military forces would fall within the Navy's budget. 

Decisions that Congress and the executive branch make regarding U.S. Navy programs for countering improved Chinese maritime military capabilities could affect the likelihood or possible outcome of a potential U.S.-Chinese military conflict in the Pacific over Taiwan or some other issue. Some observers consider such a conflict to be very unlikely, in part because of significant U.S.-Chinese economic linkages and the tremendous damage that such a conflict could cause on both sides. 

In the absence of such a conflict, the U.S.-Chinese military balance in the Pacific could influence day-to-day choices made by other Pacific countries, including choices on whether to align their policies more closely with China or the United States. In this sense, decisions that Congress and the executive branch make regarding U.S. Navy programs for countering improved Chinese maritime military forces could influence the political evolution of the Pacific, which in turn could affect the ability of the United States to pursue goals relating to various policy issues, both in the Pacific and elsewhere. 

China's naval modernization effort, which began in the 1990s, encompasses a broad array of weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), submarines, and surface ships. China's naval modernization effort also includes reforms and improvements in areas such as doctrine and training. 

DOD and other observers believe that the near-term focus of China's military modernization effort has been to develop military options for addressing the situation with Taiwan. Consistent with this goal, observers believe that China wants its military to be capable of acting as a socalled anti-access force—a force that can deter U.S. intervention in a conflict involving Taiwan, or failing that, delay the arrival or reduce the effectiveness of intervening U.S. naval and air forces. Some observers believe that China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is increasingly oriented toward pursuing additional goals, such as asserting or defending China's claims in maritime territorial disputes, protecting China's sea lines of communications, displacing U.S. influence in the Pacific, and asserting China's status as a major world power. 

Placing an increased emphasis on U.S. Navy programs for countering improved Chinese maritime military capabilities in coming years could lead to one more of the following: increasing activities for monitoring and understanding developments in China's navy, as well as activities for measuring and better understanding operating conditions in the Western Pacific; assigning a larger percentage of the Navy to the Pacific Fleet; homeporting more of the Pacific Fleet's ships at forward locations such as Hawaii, Guam, and Japan; increasing training and exercises in operations relating to countering Chinese maritime anti-access forces, such as antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations; and funding programs for developing and procuring highly capable ships, aircraft, weapons, and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems.



Date of Report: June 10, 2010
Number of Pages: 54
Order Number: RL33153
Price: $29.95

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Burma’s 2010 Elections: Implications of the New Constitution and Election Laws

Michael F. Martin
Specialist in Asian Affairs

On an undisclosed date in 2010, Burma plans to hold its first parliamentary elections in 20 years. The elections are to be held under a new constitution, supposedly approved in a national referendum held in 2008 in the immediate aftermath of the widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Nargis. The official results of the constitutional referendum are widely seen as fraudulent, but despite significant domestic and international opposition, Burma's ruling military junta—the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)—has insisted on conducting the polls as part of what it calls a path to "disciplined democracy." 

On March 9, 2010, the SPDC released five new laws for the pending parliamentary elections. Three of the laws are about the three main types of parliaments stipulated in the constitution—the two houses of the national parliament (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) and the Regional or State parliaments. The fourth law—the Political Parties Registration Law—sets conditions for the registration and operation of political parties in Burma; the fifth law establishes a Union Election Commission to supervise the parliamentary elections and political parties. 

The new laws were quickly subjected to sharp criticism, both domestically and overseas. In particular, the law on political parties was widely denounced for placing unreasonable restrictions on the participation of many opposition political leaders and Burma's Buddhist monks and nuns. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley said the Political Parties Registration Law "makes a mockery of the democratic process and ensures that the upcoming elections will be devoid of creditability." There have also been objections to the terms of the Union Election Commission Law and the 17 people subsequently appointed to the commission by the SPDC. 

In late September 2009, the Obama Administration adopted a new policy on Burma. The policy keeps most of the elements of the Burma policies of the last two administrations in place, but adds a willingness to engage in direct dialogue with the SPDC on how to promote democracy and human rights in Burma, and greater cooperation on international security issues, such as counternarcotics efforts and nuclear nonproliferation. The Obama Administration accepts that little progress has been made during the seven months that the new policy has been in effect, but has indicated that it will remain in place for now. 

There are signs of concern among Members of Congress about the dearth of progress in Burma towards democracy and greater respect for human rights. Nine Senators sent a letter to President Obama on March 26, 2010, urging the imposition of additional economic sanctions on the SPDC in light of "a set of profoundly troubling election laws." However, another Senator perceives "several substantive gestures" on the part of the SPDC, and suggests it is time to increase engagement with the Burmese government. 

The 111th Congress has already taken action with respect to Burma, such as renewing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. If it were to determine that additional actions should be taken, there are several alternatives available. Among those alternatives are holding hearings or seminars on the political situation in Burma, pushing the Obama Administration to implement existing sanctions on Burma more vigorously, and adding or removing existing sanctions.


Date of Report: June 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: R41218
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The question of how the United States should respond to China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has emerged as a key issue in U.S. defense planning. The issue is of particular importance to the U.S. Navy, because many U.S. military programs for countering improved Chinese military forces would fall within the Navy's budget. Decisions that Congress and the executive branch make regarding U.S. Navy programs for countering improved Chinese maritime military capabilities could affect the likelihood or possible outcome of a potential U.S.-Chinese military conflict in the Pacific over Taiwan or some other issue. Some observers consider such a conflict to be very unlikely, in part because of significant U.S.-Chinese economic linkages and the tremendous damage that such a conflict could cause on both sides. 

In the absence of such a conflict, the U.S.-Chinese military balance in the Pacific could influence day-to-day choices made by other Pacific countries, including choices on whether to align their policies more closely with China or the United States. In this sense, decisions that Congress and the executive branch make regarding U.S. Navy programs for countering improved Chinese maritime military forces could influence the political evolution of the Pacific, which in turn could affect the ability of the United States to pursue goals relating to various policy issues, both in the Pacific and elsewhere. 

China's naval modernization effort, which began in the 1990s, encompasses a broad array of weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), submarines, and surface ships. China's naval modernization effort also includes reforms and improvements in areas such as doctrine and training. 

DOD and other observers believe that the near-term focus of China's military modernization effort has been to develop military options for addressing the situation with Taiwan. Consistent with this goal, observers believe that China wants its military to be capable of acting as a socalled anti-access force—a force that can deter U.S. intervention in a conflict involving Taiwan, or failing that, delay the arrival or reduce the effectiveness of intervening U.S. naval and air forces. Some observers believe that China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is increasingly oriented toward pursuing additional goals, such asserting or defending China's claims in maritime territorial disputes, protecting China's sea lines of communications, displacing U.S. influence in the Pacific, and asserting China's status as a major world power. 

Placing an increased emphasis on U.S. Navy programs for countering improved Chinese maritime military capabilities in coming years could lead to one more of the following: increasing activities for monitoring and understanding developments in China's navy, as well as activities for measuring and better understanding operating conditions in the Western Pacific; assigning a larger percentage of the Navy to the Pacific Fleet; homeporting more of the Pacific Fleet's ships at forward locations such as Hawaii, Guam, and Japan; increasing training and exercises in operations relating to countering Chinese maritime anti-access forces, such as antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations; and funding programs for developing and procuring highly capable ships, aircraft, weapons, and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems.


Date of Report: May 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 52
Order Number: RL33153
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations

Emma Chanlett-Avery
Specialist in Asian Affairs

U.S.-Thailand relations are of interest to Congress because of Thailand's status as a long-time military ally and a significant trade and economic partner. However, ties have been complicated by deep political and economic instability in the wake of the September 2006 coup that displaced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. After December 2007 parliamentary elections returned many of Thaksin's supporters to power, the U.S. government lifted the restrictions on aid imposed after the coup and worked to restore bilateral ties. Meanwhile, street demonstrations rocked Bangkok and two prime ministers were forced to step down because of court decisions. A new coalition headed by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva assumed power in December 2008. Bangkok temporarily stabilized, but again erupted into open conflict between the security forces and antigovernment protestors in March 2010. By May, the conflict escalated into the worst violence in Bangkok in decades. With the capital gripped by violence and uncertainty, many questions remain on how U.S. relations will fare as Bangkok seeks some degree of stability. 

Despite differences on Burma policy and human rights issues, shared economic and security interests have long provided the basis for U.S.-Thai cooperation. Thailand contributed troops and support for U.S. military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was designated as a major non-NATO ally in December 2003. Thailand's airfields and ports play a particularly important role in U.S. global military strategy, including having served as the primary hub of the relief effort following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. 

Since 2006, Thai politics have been dominated by a fight between populist forces led by Thaksin (now in exile) and his opponents: a mix of conservative royalists and military figures, and other Bangkok elites. Like Thaksin, none of the successive governments has been able to stem the violence of an insurgency in the southern majority-Muslim provinces. A series of attacks by insurgents and counter-attacks by security forces has reportedly claimed around 4,000 lives since January 2004. 

With its favorable geographic location and broad-based economy, Thailand has traditionally been considered among the most likely countries to play a major leadership role in Southeast Asia and has been an aggressive advocate of increased economic integration in the region. A founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand maintains close ties with China and is pursuing FTAs with a number of other countries. Given its ties with the United States, Thailand's stature in the region may affect broader U.S. foreign policy objectives and prospects for further multilateral economic and security cooperation in Southeast Asia.


Date of Report: May 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RL32593
Price: $29.95

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Democratic Reforms in Taiwan: Issues for Congress

Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

Taiwan, which its government formally calls the Republic of China (ROC), is a success story for U.S. interests in the promotion of universal freedoms and democracy. Taiwan's people and their leaders transformed politics from rule imposed from the outside with authoritarian abuses to the relatively peaceful achievement of self-government, human rights, and democracy. The purpose of this CRS report is to succinctly discuss Taiwan's transformation and current concerns, paying particular attention to the role of Congress and implications and options for U.S. policy. 

Taiwan's people did not fully enjoy democratic self-government until the first direct presidential election in 1996. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), formed in 1986, and its candidate Chen Shui-bian won the presidential election in 2000, ending Taiwan's 55 years of rule by the Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalist Party of China. Taiwan enjoyed a second democratic transfer of power in 2008, when the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou won the election for president. 

After two democratic transfers of power, Taiwan has an unfinished story in promoting rule of law and maintaining a strong multi-party system, with implications for U.S. security, economic, and political interests. U.S. policy has played important roles in Taiwan's transition to democracy, by decreasing Taiwan's sense of insecurity through continued arms sales and other contacts after the end of the mutual defense treaty with and diplomatic recognition of the ROC in 1979, by continuing business ties that have provided for prosperity, and by pressing the KMT to end authoritarian abuses of power in favor of freedoms for all Taiwan's people, including the majority Taiwanese. Some say Taiwan could be a model for the People's Republic of China (PRC). 

Promoting an environment conducive to rule of law and business, President Ma has led his government to fight corruption in Taiwan, a complaint of some U.S. firms. He has touted his administration as a defender of democracy, enhancing Taiwan's rule of law and protection of human rights. He championed Taiwan's long-awaited ratification of the United Nations (U.N.) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Nonetheless, domestic and international scrutiny of Taiwan's democracy and rule of law has increased. Some events under the Ma Administration have raised domestic and foreign concern about Taiwan, most prominently the heavy police presence to control protesters during the visit of a PRC figure from Beijing in November 2008 and the prolonged detention of ex-president Chen on charges of corruption since 2008. 

Before reformist leaders in the KMT and the opposition forces pushed for political liberalization that began in Taiwan in 1986, Congress played an important role in U.S. pressure on the KMT's authoritarian regime to reform the political system. Congressional oversight is provided by law. In 1979, just after the United States switched diplomatic recognition from the ROC in Taipei to the PRC in Beijing, Congress carefully crafted the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8 of April 10, 1979, and included a section on human rights. Congress has a long record of oversight of the human rights aspect of the Executive Branch's foreign policy toward Taiwan, external pressure on the KMT moderates to end authoritarian abuses (particularly involving the United States), and support for advancement of Taiwan's democracy. In addition to U.S. policy interests and relevant roles, Congress and the Administration continue to have a number of options concerning Taiwan's democracy, human rights, and rule of law, including remaining a more passive observer in deference to Taiwan's voters and their elected leaders in a fellow democracy. The clearest U.S. statement came in November 2008, when the U.S. Representative in Taipei expressed an expectation that Taiwan's legal system be transparent, fair, and impartial.


Date of Report: May 26, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: R41263
Price: $29.95

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North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation

Emma Chanlett-Avery
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Mi Ae Taylor
Analyst in Asian Affairs

North Korea has been among the most vexing and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the official name for North Korea). Negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program have consumed the past three U.S. administrations, even as some analysts anticipated a collapse of the isolated authoritarian regime. North Korea has been the recipient of billions of dollars of U.S. aid and the target of dozens of U.S. sanctions. 

This report provides background information on the nuclear negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program that began in the early 1990s under the Clinton Administration. As U.S. policy toward Pyongyang evolved through the Bush presidency and into the Obama Administration, the negotiations moved from mostly bilateral to the multilateral Six-Party Talks (made up of China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States). Although the negotiations have reached some key agreements that lay out deals for aid and recognition to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization, major problems with implementation have persisted. As the talks remain frozen, concern about proliferation to other actors has grown. 

Meanwhile, North Korea's reclusive regime has shown signs of serious strain under its ailing leader Kim Jong-il. Pyongyang appears to be struggling as a result of the impact of international sanctions, anxiety surrounding an anticipated leadership succession, and reports of rare social unrest in reaction to a botched attempt at currency reform. North Korea has initiated a string of provocative acts, including an apparent torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 South Korean servicemen in March 2010. As the international community takes measures to respond to the aggression, pressure is building on China, as the North's sole ally and benefactor, to punish North Korea by enforcing international sanctions or cutting off some aid. 

The Obama Administration, like its predecessors, faces fundamental decisions on how to approach North Korea. To what degree should the United States attempt to isolate the regime diplomatically and financially? Should those efforts be balanced with engagement initiatives that continue to push for steps toward denuclearization, or for better human rights behavior? Is China a reliable partner in efforts to pressure Pyongyang? Have the North's nuclear tests and alleged torpedo attack demonstrated that regime change is the only way to peaceful resolution? Should the United States continue to offer humanitarian aid? 

Although the primary focus of U.S. policy toward North Korea is the nuclear weapons program, there are a host of other issues, including Pyongyang's missile program, illicit activities, and poor human rights record. Modest attempts at engaging North Korea, including joint operations to recover U.S. servicemen remains from the Korean War and some discussion about opening a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang, remain suspended along with the nuclear negotiations. 

(This report covers the overall U.S.-North Korea relationship, with an emphasis on the diplomacy of the Six-Party Talks. For information on the technical issues involved in North Korea's weapons programs and delivery systems, as well as the steps involved in denuclearization, please see the companion piece to this report, CRS Report RL34256, North Korea's Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues, by Mary Beth Nikitin. Please refer to the list at the end of this report for the full list of CRS reports focusing on other North Korean issues.)


Date of Report: May 26, 2010
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R41259
Price: $29.95

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