Fri, Jan 17, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Congress members vow support

GOOD EXAMPLE Members of the US Congress said there was bipartisan support for Taiwan, which some saw as a model of democratization for the Asian region

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AP

Taiwan's future should be determined by the Taiwanese -- not by China or the US, visiting members of the US Congress said yesterday.

`This is an issue to be determined by the people of Taiwan, not by any outside forces or through any sort of hostility or aggressive action,'' said Representative Steve Chabot, honorary co-chair of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus.

The US lawmakers vowed to continue supporting Taiwan saying all democratic countries in the Asia-Pacific region including Taiwan constituted an instrumental alliance for the US.

US support for Taiwan was bipartisan, Chabot said.

Chabot said he had stressed the importance of Taiwan to the US during his meeting with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on Wednesday.

The Taiwan Caucus is a pro-Taiwan US congressional group formed by 85 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate on April 9 last year.

Chabot made the statement during a press conference at the Grand Hotel in Taipei yesterday morning, regarding a one-day international conference among members of parliament from the Asia-Pacific region slated to open today.

Chabot expected the conference to improve and strengthen the US-Taiwan relationship, making clear to China that the US stands on Taiwan's side.

Other members of Congress present at the press conference echoed Chabot's support for Taiwan.

Dana Rohrabacher, who also serves as honorary co-chair of the caucus, said any democratic states in the Asia-Pacific region, including Taiwan, were important allies for the US.

Rohrabacher also said a democratic system was feasible in China in view of the democratization process in Taiwan, adding that the US is more than willing to befriend pro-democracy and anti-dictatorship forces in China.

Rohrabacher, added that Taiwan's future "is not up to a group of powerful figures on the mainland, and it's not up to the United States government as well."

"Why would people who live in a democracy want to surrender themselves up to a dictatorial system run by some power-hungry individuals who don't care about human rights?" he said.

Representative Robert Wexler, a third honorary co-chair of the caucus, lauded Taiwan's move to host the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Asia-Pacific Security, saying the exchange of ideas during the seminar would help democracy take root in the region.

Around 65 lawmakers from the US, Canada, France, Japan, Australia, Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, Belarus, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Portugal, New Zealand, South Korea, Malaysia and India will attend the conference today at the Grand Hotel.

President Chen is slated to give a welcome speech, with Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) giving a luncheon speech and former president Lee delivering a talk at the end of the conference, according to the schedule.

The conference will include group discussions on trilateral relations between Taiwan, Japan and the US, free passage through the Taiwan Strait, anti-terrorism, democracy and human rights, and economy and trade.

Meanwhile, Deputy Representative to the US Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) said seven incumbent members of the US Congress and two former ones -- an unprecedented number -- were currently in Taiwan for the seminar.

Tsai also said Taiwan's de facto embassy in Washington would strive to invite more members of Congress to visit Taiwan despite a dwindling number of US visitors from Capitol Hill last year.

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