President Chen Shui-bian (
The award, to be presented by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, will honor Chen for his "efforts in promoting tolerance, democracy, and human rights," according to a House of Representatives resolution welcoming his visit. The caucus is made up of more than 250 House members, more than half the total House membership of 435.
UN Bid support
Meanwhile, several congressmen are preparing letters in support of Taiwan's bid to join the UN, in advance of a mass rally planned in New York next week on the eve of a global summit meeting accompanying the General Assembly's celebration of its 60th anniversary.
The summit will draw the heads of state of well over 100 nations, including presidents George W. Bush and Hu Jintao (
The House resolution was introduced Thursday by Representative Steve Chabot, a Republican who is a co-chairman of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus. It was also sponsored by the other three co-chairman of the Taiwan caucus, and has attracted the co-sponsorship of 10 other House members.
Sponsors expect it to receive sufficient additional support to enable the House International Relations Committee to approve the resolution at a business meeting slated for next Wednesday, and to send it to the full House for approval before Chen arrives.
Chen will stop over in Miami on his way to Latin America and will stay overnight in San Francisco on his way back to Taipei.
Calling the US-Taiwan relationship over the past half century "ironclad," the House resolution expresses the "sense of Congress" welcoming Chen to the US. It calls the trip "another significant step in broadening and deepening the friendship and cooperation between the United States and Taiwan."
Chen will bring with him "a strong message from the Taiwanese people that Taiwan will cooperate and support the United States campaign against international terrorism and efforts to rebuild an bring democracy and stability to Afghanistan and Iraq," the resolution says.
It also thanks Taiwan for its US$2 million contribution to relief efforts in the devastated Gulf of Mexico coastal areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, and asks Chen to "communicate to the people of Taiwan the support of Congress and the American People."
The resolution praises Taiwan for "unequivocal support" of human rights, democracy, freedom of the press and speech, and "free and fair elections."
Also in Washington, Taiwan supporters are gathering letters from congressmen endorsing Taiwan's bid to gain UN membership. Those letters are planned to be read at the New York rally on Tuesday, which is expected to draw between 300 and 500 Taiwanese-Americans to demand Taiwan's admission into the world body.
The Taiwanese will hold their demonstration at the UN's Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at midday, and then move to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where Bush and Hu are scheduled to meet that afternoon.
The congressional letters will be gathered by the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), a major Taiwan lobbying organization in Washington, for presentation at the rally.
Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, wrote a typical letter to FAPA president Wu Ming-chi (
"I am hopeful that the UN delegates will resist the relentless and irrational pressure of the communist regime in Beijing and accord the people of Taiwan their rightful representation in this important world body," he says.
Similar expressions were voiced on the floor of the House this week. Republican Representative Dan Burton, the chairman of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, said in a speech welcoming Chen's US visit, "It has been a gross injustice to deny Taiwan's 23 million people their proper voice in the world. The United States should take more active steps in helping Taiwan re-enter the World Health Organization and the United Nations."
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