Remarks by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Religious Freedom in China and Taiwan
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Tomorrow, October 10th, is the 107th national day of the Republic of China on Taiwan.
I would like to extend my congratulations to the people of Taiwan on this occasion and to express my appreciation for U.S.-Taiwan relations.
We were allies in World War II and have been close strategic and economic partners for a long time.
However, as the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan has evolved into the thriving free-market democracy that it is today, our relationship has deepened and strengthened in a way that can only happen when two countries share core values.
There are times when the economic or geopolitical interests of the United States are aligned with those of another country that does not fully embrace freedom- whether that is freedom in the marketplace of goods and services or the marketplace of ideas in a democratic context.
We can and should seek to engage with countries that do not share our values where it is in our national interest.
Still, those relationships remain contingent on weighing economic and security costs and benefits.
On the other hand, with free-market democracies like Taiwan, there is at the heart of our relationship a degree of mutual understanding underpinning all our interactions.
Our shared values mean that our long-term economic and strategic interests are likely to remain aligned.
For instance, market economies are more likely to seek mutually beneficial free and fair trade.
Democracies tend not to seek hegemony, but mutual cooperation.
In short, our shared values provide the basis for an enduring and stable bond that can only exist between free people.
One of those fundamental values that is dear to my heart is religious freedom.
I know my colleagues are aware of the disturbing reports out of the People’s Republic of China about the closing and destruction of churches and the burning of Bibles.
In Xinjiang Province, the Chinese government has rounded up over one million Uighur and Kazak Muslims.
Tibetan Buddhists and practitioners of Falun Gong have also long had their freedom to practice their beliefs suppressed.
This should disturb all free people.
Of course, the Communist leaders of China have excuses for their behavior.
One of those is the need for “sinicization” of non-native religions.
In other words, they think that religions like Christianity as freely practiced are somehow not compatible with Chinese society.
Just look at Taiwan.
It has the same Chinese history, language, and culture as mainland China. And yet, on Taiwan, Christians and another other religious groups practice freely.
No one gives a second thought to whether this is compatible with their history and traditions.
In fact, Taiwan has arguably preserved traditional Chinese culture better than on the mainland.
Chiang Kai-shek was able to rescue and bring to Taiwan some of the most valuable treasures from Chinese history.
Of course, these items and Taiwanese society in general were spared the horrors of the Cultural Revolution.
That’s when the Communist Party of China destroyed an untold number of historical artifacts as well as cultural and religious sites.
Ancient Chinese texts were burnt and there were massive human rights abuses.
Some have suggested that recent developments in China are the beginning of a new sort of Cultural Revolution. I hope not.
Whatever the Communist Chinese government is thinking, its actions have shattered many illusions.
The hope held by many in the United States was that robust engagement with the People’s Republic of China on an economic and political level would help it to evolve into a free-market democracy.
That hope has now dimmed significantly.
Things seem to be going in the opposite direction.
This is a bad sign for U.S.-China relations.
If the Chinese leaders would like to correct their current course and improve relations with the United States, they need only look across the Taiwan Strait for a model.
As the people of Taiwan celebrate their national day, I would like to thank them for their friendship.
The Republic of China on Taiwan continues to be a strong partner on trade, security, and human rights.
In fact, I should note that a delegation from Taiwan recently visited Iowa to increase their purchases of soybeans, which I greatly appreciate.
Finally, I would like to thank Taiwan for being a model of how a free and democratic society can have a mutually beneficial partnership with the United States.