Wed, Dec 28, 2011 - Page 1 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Fourth Congress member warns on US interference

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

A fourth member of Congress has written to US President Barack Obama warning against Washington interfering in Taiwan’s elections.

Representative Robert Andrews, a Democrat, told Obama in a Christmas letter: “I hope you will work to ensure that the administration projects the strictest degree of political neutrality with regard to Taiwan’s upcoming election, so as not to inadvertently influence the outcome with its words or actions.”

Andrews was reacting to incidents in which the Obama administration appears to have been favoring and supporting the re-election campaign of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

The most prominent of these incidents was the US Department of State’s move this month toward granting Taiwan visa-waiver status after years of delay. Observers fear that some voters could interpret the move as a signal of Washington’s approval for Ma.

Insiders say that the Obama administration wants Ma to win because he is likely to cause the least amount of difficulty for pro-China US policies and do little or nothing to bolster Taiwan’s democratic independence.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican and the chairwoman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican, have also written to the White House and the US Department of State urging the administration to be strictly neutral.

Andrews reminded Obama that US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell recently said that no party in Taiwan had a monopoly on good relations with the US and that Washington would work closely and cooperatively with “whomever is elected.”

“As we look forward to congratulating the people of Taiwan on the successful completion of another election, I think it is also wise to remind ourselves that the true mark of a mature and consolidated democracy is its ability to carry out a peaceful transfer of power in the event of a victory by the opposition,” Andrews wrote.

Bob Yang (楊英育), president of the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs, said: “These recent letters from members of Congress demonstrate that there is genuine and widespread concern in Congress about the need to guard against potential attempts to undermine the integrity of the ongoing election campaign and the voting process, and to interfere with a peaceful transfer of power after the election in the event of a victory by the opposition party in Taiwan.”

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