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Sun, Jan 07, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan bills to get early US attention

NEW LEGISLATION A number of Taiwan-related bills and laws that the 106th US Congress failed to deal with are expected to be introduced early in the new session

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The issues of Taiwan and cross-strait relations are expected to surface early in the new US Congress as lawmakers resume efforts to enact legislation that failed to be passed in the 106th Congress that wound up last year.

A spokesperson for Ohio Democratic Representative Sherrod Brown said the congressman plans an early introduction of bills dealing with Taiwan's participation in the WHO and UN.

One bill would urge the State Department to push for Taiwan to be allowed to participate in the WHO and be granted observer status at the World Health Assembly (WHA) to take place in Geneva in May.

Brown introduced a similar bill last year, but it died in the House International Affairs Committee. However a similar bill, which ordered the State Department to report to Congress on its efforts to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations, was enacted into law. The department has yet to issue the report called for in the legislation.

Another bill planned by Brown would urge US support for Taiwan's participation in the UN. Last year, Congress passed a non-binding resolution declaring it the "sense of Congress" that Taiwan deserves "meaningful participation" in the UN and other organizations such as the WHO.

But the lawmakers stopped short of mandating that the administration adopt a policy of working for a Taiwan role in the international body.

If the WHO bill does drag on close to the WHA meeting, some observers expect Brown and other supporters to start a massive letter-writing campaign to the Bush administration to get it to adopt the policy in the absence of a bill.

Reintroduction of a bill enhancing US-Taiwan military ties is expected to take longer. The bill, the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, was approved by the House last year, but never made it through the Senate.

The bill, which generated widespread opposition among senators, is seen as a controversial measure, and the Republican congressional leadership is likely to try to delay introduction of a new version to give the Bush administration more time to work out the details of its China and Taiwan policies.

Such a delay would give the new administration more leeway in responding to Taiwan's latest annual requests for new weapons, including what is expected to be a renewed request for AEGIS destroyers equipped with sophisticated radar to detect and defend against multiple missile launches.

At least some aspects of the Bush policy toward Taiwan and China are expected to emerge next week, when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds two days of confirmation hearings on Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell on Jan. 16 and 17.

The hearings were scheduled before the Jan. 20 inauguration of Bush because Powell is expected to get confirmation easily.

But the hearings also give the new administration an opportunity to explain its foreign policy, nearly non-existent as an issue in last year's election, and which the Bush team has dodged since Bush was finally declared president-elect.

Meanwhile, in the House, the selection of Illinois Representative Henry J. Hyde to be the next chairman of the International Relations Committee gives little indication of how he will guide the committee's policy toward Taiwan or China.

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