Pacific trade partnership must not exclude Taiwan

High-level talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are set to resume Feb. 22 in Singapore (“Asia-Pacific trade talks set to resume Feb. 22,” Feb. 11). The TPP currently is being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations but has excluded Taiwan. In the absence of regional economic bloc participation, the growth of Taiwan’s marginalization is the unfortunate consequence. 

Taiwan has been generally neglected in the Obama administration’s rebalance. In a bid to set Taiwan on the path to joining the TPP, Taipei is seeking support from Washington for Taiwan’s TPP accession, as the United States is a key negotiating member of this trade bloc. Exclusion of Taiwan from the TPP would be a serious blow to Washington’s efforts to fully and formally keep pace with the economic integration taking place around it. 

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The TPP is the force for Asian-Pacific regional economic integration, and a new wave of the United States’s pivot to the Pacific. As the U.S. looks to the Asia-Pacific, Taiwan presents an opportunity for economic partnership not to be missed. U.S. leadership and support is critical to solidifying Taiwan’s economic and political resilience in the region. Taiwan has no time to waste. It must ride the wave of Asian-Pacific economic integration as soon as possible. 

If Taiwan’s voice is continuously extinguished in the international community, the U.S. will lose a valued democratic partner. It is in the United States’s interest to help Taiwan access the international organizations such as the TPP. 

The island’s 23 million people ask the United States to advance Taiwan’s inclusion and meaningful participation in the TPP, so they be able to contribute their well-developed knowledge, skills and resources to issues that directly affect them. The U.S. must use its influence to help Taiwan to make the necessary structural adjustments so it can make gains toward TPP standards, and furthermore to take concrete steps to ensure Taiwan is invited to access the TPP. 

From Kent Wang, advisory commissioner for the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council of the Republic of China in the United States, Potomac Falls, Va.


Lawmakers must act to reduce gun violence

I am writing to share my 36 years of Navy experience and to promote responsible gun ownership at home in order to reduce the growing gun violence and deaths we are experiencing.

When the United Nations got involved in the Korean War in 1949, I was called to active duty for 15 months aboard an aircraft carrier going to Korea, in the middle of my junior year in college. I looked for an alternative, and found one in a new Reserve Officer Candidate program, which accepted, trained and commissioned me a Reserve Officer. From there on, our frequent use of naval guns was a learning lesson, beginning with using them to solve issues between countries, especially weaker ones, often without any discussion or negotiation. This is what often happens between people in neighborhoods, particularly among too many of our young males, who have developed a gun solution for resolving their arguments.

I particularly learned about U.S. gun use, and the need for effective negotiations, when I served aboard two aircraft carriers operating off Korea. The fighting came to a stop without resolution, at the original United Nations’s 37th parallel line, without any effective negotiations — and at the cost of many lives. That Korean war experience begins to explain the attitude I developed towards using our military’s might to resolve political issues. 

I think our guns are used too often out of habit — and often, we act high and mighty in the negotiations in which we participate because we have the guns. Look at the terrible time our forces have had in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s face it, our military is often not the solution to resolving conflicts within or between nations. Having spent so many years involved with conflicts involving Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and China, without success, I saw most of these wars as the U.S. arbitrating “family fights,” that were none of our business, except for Washington’s earlier fears of the spread of communism, and our desire for access to each countries’ resources. 

I ask lawmakers to please vote for responsible solutions that will reduce gun violence. Remember, we have to rely on members of Congress to care for the common good of us all — particularly those who are the least of us.

From Capt. James W. Kehoe, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Lanham, Md.


Common Core will dumb down education

If the central planners and progressive bureaucrats get their way, teaching the Constitution to American schoolchildren will be a thing of the past.

Common Core is unacceptable. This top-down, bureaucratic takeover of local schools must be stopped. Common Core will dumb down education, collect data on kids and their families and leave American kids behind in the global economy. Since Washington politicians started running our schools, costs have exploded for taxpayers and kids’ test scores have decreased.

From Janet Smith, Woodbridge, Va.