Some of you may remember my December 2012 Chairman’s Update that included comments concerning my trip to mainland China. I opined that it was apparent that mainland Chinese citizens did not have all of the freedoms we enjoy in here in the United States and that I personally was not able to access many news websites, emails, etc., because of government censorship. It made me appreciate America that much more. I mention this because I spent the first part of October, as part of an official RNC delegation trip to the Republic of China (Taiwan). The delegation was headed by National RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day, and included Mr. Bob Kabel, National Committeeman from Washington DC, Ms. Betti Hill, National Committeewoman from Montana, Mrs. Fredi Simpson, National Committeewoman from Washington Sate, Mr. Doyle Webb, State Chairman of Arkansas, Mr. Jonathan Barnnet, National Committeeman from Arkansas, Mr. Brad Courtney, State Chairman of Wisconsin, Mr. Sam Raia, State Chairman from New Jersey, Mr. Kris Warner, National Committeeman from West Virginia, and myself.
The trip afforded me the opportunity to experience firsthand the differences between life on mainland China under communist rule and life in Taiwan under a free and democratic government. The differences were startling. I experienced absolutely no censorship while in Taiwan. There are daily television broadcasts in multiple languages during which opposing viewpoints are expressed, unlike on the mainland where there is only the official party line. On the mainland, there are no visible signs of protest or opposition voices. In Taiwan, there were numerous peaceful protests as well as a democratically elected president. In fact, in Taiwan the presidency has changed parties just in the last election. I found the people of Taiwan to be freedom loving, pro-American, well educated, and exceptionally friendly. The country was modern, the infrastructure was well maintained, and the people seemed generally happy. This was far different from my experience on the mainland.
While we were there, our delegation had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Shaw-ang, Deputy Secretary of the Straits Exchange Foundation. He briefed our delegation on the increase in economic and cultural ties between Taiwan and the mainland. There is growing interdependence between the mainland and Taiwan economies. We also had an opportunity to visit with Ambassador Ting Joseph, Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He emphasized Taiwan’s longstanding admiration for the people and democratic system of the United States. He emphasized the cultural and economic ties between Taiwan and the U.S. as well as briefing us on the current status of relations with mainland China.
The delegation had the rare opportunity to meet with the top brass of the Taiwanese defense forces. We met with Vice Admiral Hisi-ming LI, Vice Chief of General Staff, Ministry of National Defense. He was accompanied by generals from the Air Force and Army as well as an admiral from the Navy. I was distressed to learn that the Obama Administration has not delivered all the weapons systems that were committed to the Island under the administration of President George W. Bush. It was disturbing to learn that the U.S. has not sold Taiwan any new planes for many, many years, and that we have not made good on our commitment to help them acquire four non-nuclear submarines to replace the four they have now which are World War II vintage.
I was most distressed to learn that mainland China has increased the number of ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan from a couple of hundred a few years ago to more than 1,500 today. The Taiwanese themselves have no ballistic missiles and I also learned that the mainland Chinese Air Force now outnumbers the Taiwanese Air Force ten-to-one. Moreover, the mainland Chinese continue to undertake invasion exercises and maintain a standing Army of 2.2 million while the Taiwan have less than a quarter million men under arms. The ministry of defense estimates that the Mainland will be able to overtake Taiwan militarily in approximately seven years unless the situation changes drastically.
The Taiwanese did not ask us to station any troops on Taiwan; rather they are looking for our help in acquiring arms to defend themselves against what may be an inevitable invasion. I learned the U.S. had withdrawn all of its troops in 1979, under President Carter, and has not maintained any military presence on the island of Taiwan since. The military also informed us the planes the Taiwanese use to defend themselves are third generation compared to the mainland’s fifth generation fighters, which are significantly more capable than the decades old Taiwanese planes.
The delegation also met with the Honorable Francis Quo-hsin LIANG, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs. We learned that Taiwan is a consumer of United States agricultural products, that it has no significant natural resources of its own, and is dependent on trading with other countries for survival. We also learned that tens of thousands of Taiwanese obtain degrees from U.S. universities every year so that much of their leadership is well familiar with the concepts of democracy and freedom.
Later in the week we visited with Mr. Chyung-chuan TSENG, Vice Chairman of the Nationalist Party. It was interesting to learn about the manner in which the different parties in Taiwan campaign. There are many similarities between Taiwan elections and U.S. elections, although they do not spend nearly the same amount of money as we do. Perhaps we can learn a lesson on that front. We also met with the opposition party, specifically Jau-shieh WU, Executive Director for the Democratic Progressive Party. We observed that there is a robust and vigorous opposition party unlike on the mainland.
We also had a chance to receive a briefing at the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents United States interests, but cannot function as an official embassy. Later, we had the honor of meeting with Vice President Hsui-Chu HUNG. In addition to being Vice President, she is also the Deputy Speaker of the Taiwanese Legislature. We had an opportunity to visit Taiwanese Air Force facilities and it was clear their planes and munitions are outdated and are in need of an upgrade. The highlight of the trip was a discussion withPresident Ma. He outlined his vision for mainland-island relations. He believes in engaging the mainland Chinese in economic, cultural, and travel activities. It is his hope that with millions of mainland Chinese visiting Taiwan every year, the Chinese people who share common ancestry and culture will be able to understand each other better and find a peaceful solution to the status of relations with Taiwan. He is optimistic that through a combination of effective military deterrents, active exchange and dialogue with the mainland government, and a better understanding between the people on the mainland and the island, future generations can come up with an acceptable arrangement.
What became clear to me is that for their strategy to work there needs to be an effective deterrence. That deterrence can only be in place if Taiwan’s defense forces have the adequate weapons to at least maintain a threat of inflicting a serious counterstrike if they are attacked. I am concerned that if the U.S. does not live up to its commitments to furnish the Taiwanese with the submarines they were promised, upgrade their F-16 weapons systems, and find a source for new fighter planes, this deterrence cannot be maintained. In the end, this would make it less likely that there will be a peaceful solution and lead to a possible invasion by the mainland. After this trip, it became one of my goals to inform party activists about the status of Taiwan and to advocate that the national party mainatin a strong voice on behalf of the Taiwanese people to self-determination and to oppose a military intervention by the mainland.
I returned to Texas with a renewed appreciation of not only the freedoms we enjoy in this country, but also the need for us as country to maintain our own defenses against the enemies of democracy.
The trip reminded me of the important work we are doing here in Texas through the Republican Party to promote the cause of liberty so the rest of my month focused on party building activities. I had the opportunity to speak to the Texas Federation of Republican Women’s annual state convention in San Antonio. There were over 700 women from around the state gathered to hear from elected Republican officials, conduct TFRW business, and obtain training. Outgoing President Carolyn Hodges did a wonderful job and I am confident incoming President, Jody Rushton, will serve the position well.
The next week I traveled to Caldwell in Burleson County to speak to the local Republican club. The following evening I attended a Texas Alliance for Life dinner in Austin. SREC Member and Texas Alliance for Life President, Davida Stike did an outstanding job gathering approximately 1400 supporters of right to life for the annual dinner and banquet featuring Star Parker.
Midweek, I had the opportunity to speak to the University of Texas College Republicans who have also been very active in sending volunteers to help elect Dr. Mike VanDeWalle by making phones calls at the RPT phone bank in Austin. I always enjoy speaking at campuses because the youth are the future of our party. The following day I traveled to Burnet to speak to the local Republican club there and ended the week traveling to Waco to speak at a gala honoring law enforcement sponsors by the Baylor Young Conservatives of Texas in conjunction with the McClennan County GOP. County Chairman Ralph Patterson helped host the event. He and the YCTs did an excellent job, since YCT was the organization I founded 33 years ago I was happy to see it still active on Baylor campus.
The last week of the month, RPT staff conducted its second campaign management school of the year and featured another sold out class as usual. I had the chance to give a short speech at the school along with numerous top consultants and politicians from around the state.
During October, the staff and I also met with the production company for 2014 state convention and went over preliminary agenda items and production issues. Planning is well underway for the convention with Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Rick Perry, and Senator Rand Paul lined up as keynote speakers. We also continued our Victory plans and hired a new full time Hispanic engagement staffer, Carlos Guerra, for Harris County. We also received addition funding for two more field staffers prior to the end of year to go along with a staff position we are in the process of filling. We are hopeful that we will have three additional field staffers by January 1st. With the 2013 election cycle now in full swing, the RPT has hired Cindi McIntyre as our new Primary Election Administrator Assistant to help out during the candidate filing process. I am also happy to report that we have hired a new Finance Director, Christin Evans, who comes to us highly recommend and is already hard at work on two fundraisers in November in Fort Worth and Houston. The Fort Worth fundraiser will feature Senator Kelly Hancock and the Houston Fundraiser will be at the home of Gail and Ross Davis and will feature RPT ChairmanSteve Munisteri with special guests Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and former Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt.
As we have for the past three years, we ended the month with $0 in debt, and over $1 million in our combined accounts. This included approximately $850,000 in discretionary funds, about $250,000 in the Victory account, and $36,000 in the Candidate Resource Committee account. Overall, the financial condition of the party continues to be solid and we are on track to meet our goal of ending the year debt free yet again and having no less than $500,000 in our accounts.
Speaking of our Victory account, the RPT funded a new website in October calledTheRealWendy.com that contains ongoing, updated information about the true record ofSenator Wendy Davis. Click here to discover the real Wendy Davis right now!
Next month I have several meetings in Washington D.C. pertaining to the RNC Rules Committee and Subcommittee, and the commission on convention planning I have been appointed to. These meetings will impact what the final proposed rules for the 2016 presidential primary schedule will be as well as provide recommendations as to when to hold the national convention. The rules may also impact the manner in which delegates are selected. I will continue to be an advocate for Texas’ right to determine how we select own delegates as well as rules that allow for an open, transparent, and fair process for grassroots.
Every time I travel oversees I come back convinced we live in the greatest country in the world and it is our task to work hard to keep it that way. I truly believe in American exceptionalism, not because we are inherently superior human beings, but rather because a free and democratic system allows for ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Let’s all commit to working hard to ensure our state and country remain strong. There is no better way to do this than to work through the GOP to elect candidates that are committed to the principles we believe in.
Stephen Munisteri, Chairman