12.18.18

Gardner Sends Bipartisan Letter Calling for Response to Allegations of Chinese Government Election Interference

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and the International Cybersecurity Policy, sent a letter with a group of bipartisan Senators to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other national security leaders in the Trump Administration expressing concern about continued attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine democracy. Specifically, the letter encourages the Administration to work closely with Taiwan to investigate the allegations of interference and respond if deemed necessary.

 

“CCP attempts to erode democratic processes and norms around the world threaten U.S. partnerships and prosperity,” the Senators wrote. “Allegations such as those surrounding Taiwan’s recent elections must therefore be pursued with seriousness and urgency.…We write to express our support for efforts to counter interference of this nature and to state unequivocally that we stand shoulder to shoulder with democracies fighting attempts to undermine their sovereignty and freedom. We encourage your departments to do all you can to support Taiwan in investigating these allegations and taking necessary action in response.

 

“It is not our intent, nor our role, to question the veracity or fairness of the electoral outcome. Rather, in an era of growing authoritarian interference, we believe such allegations must be taken seriously if free societies are to continue to thrive. If true, CCP interference in Taiwan’s elections would be deeply concerning not only for Taiwan’s future, but also for fellow democracies around the world where the CCP may choose to interfere.”

 

Gardner has prioritized the U.S.-Taiwan relationship during this time in the Senate, including enacting legislation into law, conducting three official visits to Taiwan, and frequent high-level meetings with Taiwan’s leadership, including most recently meeting President Tsai Ing-Wen during her transit through the United States in August 2018. In the 114th Congress, Gardner authored legislation to require the Department of State to develop a strategy to include Taiwan as an observer in INTERPOL, which was signed into law by President Obama in March 2016. In the 115th Congress, he introduced the Taiwan Security Act with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) in July 2017, a bill that would enhance the security relationship between our two nations.  In 2018, he worked with his Subcommittee ranking member Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) to introduce the Taiwan International Participation Act of 2018 (TIPA), a bill aiming to ensure Taiwan’s participation in appropriate international organizations, as well as the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) ACT legislation requiring the U.S. government to engage with nations around the world to maintain and grow ties with Taiwan.

 

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) also joined the letter.

 

NOTE: View the letter here.

 

The letter reads in full

 

Dear Secretaries Pompeo and Mnuchin, Directors Coats and Wray:

 

We write with concern about allegations that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interfered in Taiwan’s recent elections. CCP attempts to erode democratic processes and norms around the world threaten U.S. partnerships and prosperity. Allegations such as those surrounding Taiwan’s recent elections must therefore be pursued with seriousness and urgency. We appreciate the actions your departments are already taking to address CCP foreign interference. We encourage you to work closely with Taiwan authorities to thoroughly investigate these allegations and, if necessary, take swift action to deter future CCP interference in elections in Taiwan or elsewhere across the globe.

 

In the lead-up to Taiwan’s local elections on November 24, 2018, Taiwan authorities and independent observers alleged that the CCP used illegal funds and disinformation to influence the election results in favor of the CCP’s strategic interests. It is not our intent, nor our role, to question the veracity or fairness of the electoral outcome. Rather, in an era of growing authoritarian interference, we believe such allegations must be taken seriously if free societies are to continue to thrive. If true, CCP interference in Taiwan’s elections would be deeply concerning not only for Taiwan’s future, but also for fellow democracies around the world where the CCP may choose to interfere.

 

Taiwan authorities’ statements suggest that illegal campaign contributions to pro-Beijing political candidates were one of the primary tools of alleged CCP interference. In October, Taiwan authorities announced that they were investigating 33 cases of alleged funding from China to political campaigns in Taiwan. If true, the donations would be in violation of Taiwan’s Political Donations Act and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. Indeed, Taiwan investigators reportedly conducted raids on two illicit money exchanges funneling money to pro-Beijing election activities in Taiwan. Authorities are also investigating allegations that CCP-linked individuals tried to bribe or coerce voters.

 

Taiwan authorities have also accused the CCP of using disinformation to shape public opinion of political candidates deemed unsympathetic to Beijing’s interests. They allege the CCP spread false information through social media and messaging platforms, including Facebook, Line, and the online bulletin board, PTT. Some candidates have even claimed to possess evidence showing that these disinformation campaigns originated from mainland Chinese IP addresses.

 

As Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) of State Scott Busby said last month in Taiwan, “At a time of democratic backsliding and human rights abuses elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan serves as an invaluable model to others.  And given the challenges we all face, it is especially important that democracies like Taiwan and the United States stand together in promoting a brighter future, free of repression, censorship, and exploitation.” In the spirit of DAS Busby’s remarks, we write to express our support for efforts to counter interference of this nature and to state unequivocally that we stand shoulder to shoulder with democracies fighting attempts to undermine their sovereignty and freedom. We encourage your departments to do all you can to support Taiwan in investigating these allegations and taking necessary action in response.

 

 

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.