Fri, Dec 16, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Remembering a son of Taiwan

By Li Thian-hok 李天福

During our talk I told Chiau-tong that I agreed with his decision to quit and that he should stand firm. He was very pleased and suddenly said he wanted to give me the tie. It was a high--quality tie, though a little loud for my taste. I still wear it from time to time.

In the summer of 2005, WUFI-USA held a conference in Colorado to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Taiwan independence movement in the US. Afterward, Chiau-tong went to Washington, so on July 19, Paul Hsieh, Helen and I took him to call on US lawmakers Steve Chabot, Robert Wexler and Tom Tancredo, all ardent supporters of Taiwan. In between interviews we had lunch at a US House of Representatives cafeteria. After the meetings, we walked from Capitol Hill to Union Station, even though it was a very hot day.

The following day, I arranged a luncheon at an Italian restaurant near the Faragut North Metro station so chairman Ng could meet with some of Washington’s foreign policy elite, including Dan Blumenthal, Derek Mitchell, congressional aides and academics from the Hudson Institute and the International Assessment and Strategy Center such as Arthur Waldron and Rick Fisher. This was a rare and useful opportunity for US academics and officials to talk to the WUFI chairman and a life-long advocate of Taiwan Independence.

In June 2009, Helen and I flew back to Taipei so I could deliver the keynote speech at a joint conference of the North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association (NATPA) and Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP).

On the second day of the conference Chiau-tong invited us to lunch at a Japanese restaurant near the WUFI headquarters. He said the food there was as good as the best restaurants in Tokyo, so we had a leisurely and very pleasant luncheon, just the three of us. I took this opportunity to present Chiau-tong with a tie pin which I had bought at a gift shop in the basement of the Longworth House Office Building, to commemorate his visit to Washington in 2005.

Also in the summer of 2009, with the support of the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association, Helen and I launched a campaign to collect 10,000 signed letters to send to US President Barack Obama, seeking his support for Taiwan’s freedom. We persuaded the Taiwan Presbyterian Church and TAUP as well as five other major Taiwanese American groups — NATPA, the Hakka Association for Public Affairs (HAPA), Taiwanese American Association (TAA), Formosan Association for Human Rights (FAHR) and Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) — to participate in this campaign.

In the end we collected more than 9,000 letters from Taiwan, several hundred from Canada, a hundred from Japan and about 8,000 from across the US — 18,000 letters in all. With professor Tsai Ting-kui’s (蔡丁貴) help, TAUP alone sent 8,000 signed letters.

This campaign was concluded by a meeting at the Washington office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) with the AIT managing director and head of the US Department of State’s Taiwan Coordination Office. US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell was instrumental in arranging the meeting.

One day we received a package from Chiau-tong containing a letter to Obama, signed by him, a similar letter from professor Chang Yen-hsien (張炎憲) and 23 additional letters. In a short cover letter he said that because some staff members at the WUFI headquarters did not feel the organization should participate in this campaign the enclosed letters were personally collected by him. I was touched. More than the French tie, this was a precious gift which I will always remember.

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