Fri, Mar 18, 2005 - Page 1 News List

US House slams Anti-Secession Law

`HISTORIC' VOTE Supporters of the resolution against China's new law were jubilant, saying the vote will give Rice more leverage when she locks horns with Beijing

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly condemned China's new "Anti-Secession" Law in a vote that one of the sponsors of the House resolution called a "victory of historic proportions," as the Senate prepared to follow suit in the next day or so.

By a 424-4 vote, the House approved a resolution calling the Anti-Secession Law a matter of "grave concern" to the US, and urging the Bush administration to "direct all appropriate officials" to press this point about the law and the "growing Chinese military threats to Taiwan in general" in their contacts with Chinese officials.

Supporters of the resolution were euphoric over the vote, which came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began a week-long trip to Asia that will include China. Observers said the resolution should give Rice more ammunition as she complains to Chinese leaders about the law.

Praising the vote, Representative Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and one of the authors of the resolution, noted, "There was total unanimity on the part of the Congress that this is no way to approach the issue of resolving long standing problems between Taiwan and the mainland."

He called the passage of the resolution a "victory of historic proportions," saying that the Anti-Secession Law is "particularly ill-advised."

Representative Robert Wexler, one of the four co-chairman of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, said the resolution shows that "Americans will not support any measures that change the status quo as a result of a unilateral action ... We hope that China will react responsibly and reasonably and pursue a path of peace."

Representative Steve Chabot, another co-chairman of the caucus, said that China's action in passing the Anti-Secession Law was "most unfortunate."

"It is very counter-productive, and I think they're going to regret what they've done. I think it's bad for China and clearly not in the best interest of Taiwan, either," he said.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Representative David Lee Ta-wei (李大維), thanked the congressmen and asked for further US support, saying "we hope the US continues to take a firm and principled position on this matter. And we hope that the US will reiterate its defense commitments to Taiwan as stated in the Taiwan Relations Act, and that it will make this clear to the [People's Republic of China]."

In a ceremony on Capitol Hill after the House voted, Lee told several members of Congress who gathered to celebrate the resolution's passage of the "surprise and concern" in Taiwan in response to the Anti-Secession Law in view of some earlier positive developments in cross-strait relations.

"This sudden shift from a track of conciliation and goodwill to belligerency and threaten has understandably shaken the Taiwanese people," he said, citing the Lunar New Year flights and President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) reconciliation with People First Party chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

The Beijing law "seeks to impose China's will on Taiwan, shattering a long-standing status quo in which Taiwan and China have had no jurisdiction over each other for 56 years," Lee told the assembled US lawmakers.

The Beijing law also "defies the key element of the US policy toward Taiwan," that is no unilateral changes and the peaceful resolution of differences.

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