Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 1 News List

US panel advises support for Taiwan’s global quest

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Workers arrange panda models on Renai Circle in Taipei yesterday. Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin, China’s top envoy to Taiwan, is expected to visit on Nov. 3 for high-level cross-strait talks.

PHOTO: SAM YEH, AFP

A high-level congressional advisory board will recommend the US help “facilitate” cross-strait talks aimed at reaching a peaceful solution on Taiwan’s international status.

However, the draft annual report to Congress by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission does not offer details on how Washington could play such a role.

The Taipei Times has obtained a draft copy of the report, which will be made public late next month — or about two weeks after the US presidential and congressional elections on Nov. 4.

The commission will also recommend that the US continue to sell weapons that Taiwan needs for its defense and push for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations such as the WHO.

The 12-member commission was created by Congress in 2000 to monitor military, political and economic developments in China and to recommend policy actions. It has always included several strong supporters of Taiwan.

Its current chairman is Larry Wortzel, a military expert and former military attache in Beijing. Its vice chairman is Carolyn Bartholomew, a former foreign policy aid to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, long a leading critic of China’s human rights abuses. Another commissioner is Daniel Blumenthal, a former director of the Pentagon’s office of Chinese and Taiwanese affairs. All three are staunch supporters of Taiwan.

The report’s section on Taiwan is included in a chapter on China’s “foreign ... activities and relationships” and lists Taiwan alongside Japan, South Korea and other countries in the region.

On cross-strait relations, the commissioners recommend “that Congress encourages the administration to support and facilitate cross-strait talks to seek a peaceful and non-coercive resolution of Taiwan’s status.”

Another of the four recommendations says: “As the United States is currently the only major supplier willing to sell defensive arms to Taiwan, the Commission recommends that Congress encourage the administration to continue to make available to Taiwan such weapons systems as Taiwan deems necessary for its own defense.”

In that regard, the panel also urges Congress to “encourage the administration to continue to work with Taiwan to modernize its armed forces.”

In a third recommendation, the commission urges Congress to push the administration “to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations in which de jure statehood is not a prerequisite for membership, such as the World Health Organization/World Health Assembly.”

In a final recommendation, the commissioners say that lawmakers should “engage in dialogue with members of Taiwan’s legislature” to help buttress Taiwan’s “deepening and maturing process of democratic political reform.”

Much of the 19-page section on Taiwan in the report is based on a trip the commissioners took to Taiwan in August, in which they spoke with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and other senior government officials.

In their discussion, US arms sales were high on the agenda.

“The issue of arms sales from the United States to Taiwan was the most prominent military and security policy topic to emerge from discussions between the Commission and Taiwan officials,” the report says.

“During their meetings with members of the Commission, both President Ma and Defense Minister Chen Chao-Min (陳肇敏) placed particular importance on the requested F-16 C/D fighters for Taiwan’s defense,” the draft report says.

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