Faleomavaega’s fuzzy history
The latest letter from Eni Faleomavaega, Representative from American Samoa and Chair of the US House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, shows the kind of champion chutzpah that separates the truly pathetic from the happily ignorant.
In his revisions to the language of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) resolution, and his first letter to the Taipei Times, Faleomavaega wrote: “The following language, which I added, is also straight from the TRA: It is the policy of the United States ‘to preserve and promote extensive, close and friendly commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people on the China mainland.’”
Note how this construction makes it look as if the TRA exists to promote China-Taiwan relations. Not! In his second letter, he included the entire line without the misleading ending: “This is why the TRA plainly states that it is the policy of the United States ‘to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people on the China mainland and all other peoples of the Western Pacific area.’”
That language clearly includes China with all the other peoples of the western Pacific, something his original edit of the TRA did not make clear.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Faleomavaega has displayed an unseemly ignorance on the TRA, Taiwan and US policy toward Taiwan. Last year, as the Taipei Times noted in an earlier editorial, he attempted to have language that said China threatens Taiwan removed from a resolution on the last Taiwan presidential election. In 2007, Chris Nelson of the well-known Washington insider sheet The Nelson Report said that “Faleomavaega stated that it was US policy to agree to ‘one China,’ and he stated it in ways that tracked the PRC [People’s Republic of China] position. In fact, the official US position does not accept China’s definition, but rather straddles the issue with deliberate ambiguity.” Nelson was one of the Democratic staffers on the drafting of the TRA.
Eighteen months later, as this latest tiff shows, Faleomavaega still has not learned that Washington and Beijing have different “one China” policies.
Nelson was referring to a letter dated Sept. 26, 2007, in which Faleomavaega displayed an astonishing ignorance of history. In it he recorded: “One of the two major parties advocates peaceful coexistence with the PRC. The other major party and its leaders keep pushing the envelope to the point of forcing Beijing’s hand, which led to [former US] President [Bill] Clinton having to send two naval battle groups to the Taiwan Straits [in 1996] and almost led to a nuclear confrontation with Beijing.”
Of course, the president at that time was Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was of the party that Faleomavaega implied “advocates peaceful coexistence with the PRC.” The DPP wasn’t an issue in that incident. Observe also that Faleomavaega simply regurgitates Beijing’s propaganda on the DPP — a party that also desires peaceful coexistence with Beijing, just not as a vassal of the Communist giant, as the KMT desires. Also, Faleomavaega’s construction of the incident leaves out the vital fact that Beijing fired off missiles to intimidate Taiwan, an obvious pro-China omission.