Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 8 News List


How the US blundered

When push comes to shove, the US' highly acclaimed democracy-centered foreign policy is only worth a 50 minute pitstop or less.

This is exactly all that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the democratically elected president of Taiwan, was allotted after his 10-hour flight from Taiwan stopped to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska, before commencing another eight-hour flight to Honduras on Aug. 21.

In Honduras, Chen held a summit with the nation's Latin American allies.

Normally, without Chinese influence, US administrations would have gladly welcomed visits from Taiwan's democratic leaders and encouraged their pursuit of freedom and democracy.

In recent years, under direct pressure from the Chinese government, the US has yielded to Beijing's tyrannical demands by greatly restricting the visits of elected Taiwanese leaders.

The so-called "transit stop privilege" granted Taiwanese high officials was reduced from a 3-day stay in major cities in 48 states to a 50 minute pit-stop on the tarmac in Anchorage, where the shining glow of Taiwan's vibrant democracy cannot disturb the interactions between the leader of the free world and the dictator of the underworld.

If this trend continues, Taiwanese officials may in future expect nothing more than aerial refueling privileges.

The Anchorage episode is particularly troubling as it was orchestrated less than a month after the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Bush administration to lift its restrictions on visits to the US by high-level Taiwanese officials.

The US State Department, heavily bullied by the Chinese, was not pleased with the Taiwanese pursuit of UN membership and the referendum on that issue.

This incident and the criticism by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on Taiwan's proposal to apply for UN membership led people to question whether the US still stands for freedom and democracy, and whether there might not be secret, underhanded dealings between State Department officials and their Chinese counterparts to sacrifice Taiwan's democracy.

Regardless, what happened in Anchorage reflects poorly upon the State Department.

The US administration's ill-treatment of the president of Taiwan to appease the dictators in China is not only an insult to the 23 million Taiwanese, but also disgraces the spirit of freedom and democracy long upheld and prized by the American public.

The State Department's recent actions are clearly anti-democracy and undermine US leadership in the Free World.

The US State Department owes an apology for this despicable mistake to the US House of Representatives and in particular to the people of Taiwan, who still aspire to replicate the freedom and democracy that, among a handful of other countries, the US represents.

Stan Yang

Laguna Hills, California

The limits of truth

The letter by Huang Jei-hsuan did a commendable job showing that Taiwanese have the undeniable right to establish their own country (Letters, Sept. 5, page 8).

Sadly, however, I cannot agree with Huang on one thing: The truth will not set Taiwan free.

True, it can help, but in the end only Taiwanese themselves hold the key to their freedom.

Forty-five years ago I had an opportunity to visit Texas and study its history.

To my amazement, I discovered that Texas once had been an independent country called the Republic of Texas (1835 to 1845).

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