Sun, Jul 16, 2006 - Page 8 News List

The US has faith in our democracy and society

By Huang Yung-jui 黃永瑞

On July 7, a senior US State Department official told the media that "the US remains confident about Taiwan's civil society and democratic system," adding that "it often happens in a democracy that the systems come out stronger after being put through a series of intense episodes of pressure, and that this is what the US hopes for the 23 million Taiwanese people."

When asked to comment on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) already weakened leadership, the official stressed that the US would not hope to see Taiwan's central government weakened or divided, and therefore would not seek to render Chen powerless, for it did not tally with the US' interests or policy.

On May 11, when addressing members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, American Institute in Taiwan Director Stephen Young said "Frankly, we are looking ahead now. We have a lot of business to do with the Chen administration in the remaining two years of his administration."

In fact, the keynote of Young's speech also tallies with what a US official expressed on June 5 when he said that Washington was concerned about rapid political developments in Taiwan and hoped to see a stable cross-strait situation. He also said that the US expected Chen to remain as president for the remaining two years of his presidency and that the Taiwanese government would stop treading water. The US official went further by saying that the US cannot imagine the consequences were Chen to decide to hand over the reins of government to someone else.

On June 9, during his visit to Taiwan, American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt said: "I don't have a high sense of anxiety about the political situation here" and that he had full confidence that Taiwan would be able to deal with current domestic political issues in a peaceful way.

He added that Taiwan's democratic system would continue to thrive and that the political storm resulting from Chen's decision to cease the National Unification Council had petered out.

Burghardt also said that Taiwan has demonstrated the resilience of a democracy following the peaceful transition of power in 2000, and "I seem to remember there was a recall attempt when I was here in the year 2000 and that drama came and went."

He also went further, saying that the kind of political crises facing Taiwan have also happened in the US, but that when looking back a few years later, they often appear to be nothing to get too excited about.

The aforementioned remarks made by various US government officials show that Taiwan is improving its democratic system and that Taiwan has a stable society, particularly with regard to freedom of speech and other elements that constitute a strong civil society. This means that US confidence concerning Taiwan is not based on particular individuals but on Taiwan's system.

I believe that is why US President George W. Bush said on July 7 in response to a question on North Korea that the democratic development in the Asian nations of Taiwan, South Korea and Japan has been outstanding, and that only the North Korean regime remains inaccessible, dark and opaque -- a remark intended to highlight what North Korea is doing is against the will of the North Korean people.

I also believe that US government officials will continue to express concern about Taiwan and pin their hopes on the Taiwanese. Moreover, they are displeased with the pan-blue camp and the pro-China media outlets' constant opposition to the arms procurement budget in the legislature, and their attempts to take over power by any means.

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