By Guy Page
A Vermont Senate resolution affirming the friendship between Vermont and Taiwan Tuesday, Feb. 9 was denied a floor vote, and instead was diverted into committee.
Most resolutions proceed to a full Senate vote immediately after introduction. But not SR7, sponsored by centrists Jane Kitchell (D-Caledonia), Ann Cummings (D-Washington) and Richard Westman (R-Lamoille): “the President [Lt. Gov. Molly Gray], in her discretion, treated the joint resolution as a bill and referred it to the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs,” the Tuesday, Feb. 9 Senate Journal (pg. 2) says.
According to the resolution, Taiwan is Vermont’s second-largest export market and in 2019 its largest Asian export market. There is a driver’s license reciprocity agreement between Vermont and Taiwan. Taiwan donated 44,000 surgical masks to Vermont to help combat COVID-19. “Taiwan can be a vital partner on issues related to public health, criminal justice, aviation safety, and climate change,” the resolution claims.
It also notes that “the United States and the Republic of China (Taiwan) share a vibrant bilateral relationship marked by a mutually beneficial partnership, supported by our common values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and a free market economy” and “the United States is Taiwan’s second-largest trading partner; Taiwan is the 10th-largest goods trading partner of the United States; and bilateral trade in goods and services between the United States and Taiwan totaled approximately $103.9 billion in 2019.”
The resolution also says “President Tsai Ing-wen has expressed Taiwan’s desire to reach a Bilateral Trade Agreement with the United States that will benefit the Vermont–Taiwan trade relationship.”
On Jan. 23, in response to People’s Republic of China flyovers of Taiwan, the U.S. State Department issued a statement that surprised some Biden-watchers: “The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan. We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives. We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan.”
Why the Vermont Senate will not, at present, issue a similar statement of support for its largest Asian export market is not mentioned in the Senate journal. The Senate Economic Development committee is chaired by Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden). Vice-chair is Sen. Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor). President Pro Tem Becca Balint also sits on that committee.
SR7 is the first Senate Resolution that has not been voted on and approved following introduction. No other resolution has been sent to committee. The first six resolutions were essentially “house-keeping” for operating during the State of Emergency. However, S.6 – disapproving the Governor’s executive order on Act 250 review – was fought on the floor by Republicans, passing by a 22-8 roll call. It’s possible (but unknown by Vermont Daily) that Senate leadership did not want a repeat of the S6 battle, with some senators voicing support for a longtime ally and then demanding a roll call.
Known as Formosa before the communist takeover of the Chinese mainland in 1949, the 245 mile-long island 100 miles from the mainland is a prosperous, peaceful redoubt of capitalist democracy long supported by the United States. The People’s Republic of China has long maintained that it still has sovereignty over Taiwan.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.