Sat, Aug 09, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan getting some recognition as its own country

WHAT'S IN A NAME?While in strict diplomatic parlance, Taiwan is not referred to as a `country' it is often called that by White House officials


US President George W. Bush's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has referred to Taiwan as a "country," in a reference that equated Taiwan with other nations such as Germany and Japan.

Rice made the reference in remarks prepared for delivery to the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, held in Dallas on Thursday.

The thrust of her speech was the Bush administration's aims in Iraq and elsewhere, with a focus on democracy. She used Taiwan as one of the examples of a democratic society.

Recalling how she, her audience and all blacks had suffered the denial of civil rights and the fruits of democracy throughout much of America's history, she made the point that all people want and democracy and are equally deserving of it.

"The desire for freedom transcends race, religion and culture ... as countries as diverse as Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey have proved," she said, according to the transcript of her prepared remarks released Thursday by the White House.

While in strict diplomatic parlance, Taiwan is not referred to as a "country" by the US government, it is routinely called a country -- rather than an "island" or a "province" -- in informal conversations and even in official pronouncements by top members of the Bush administration.

This reflects the fact that a large number of such officials have been strong Taiwan supporters in their earlier lives as scholars, minor officials of previous administrations and Washington thing-tank fellows.

These same officials also have a history of being strongly ideologically opposed to China's communist regime.

Many official government reports treat Taiwan separately from China, including annual and periodic reports by the US Trade Representative's office on trade issues and State Department reports on human rights and other global issues.

Bush himself has referred to Taiwan as a country more than once. Nevertheless, the Bush administration has tried to distance itself in the past from remarks such as President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) declaration last August that there was "one country on either side of the Taiwan Strait." or the idea of Taiwan's "state-to-state" relationship with China.

The Bush administration has also long adhered to it's stance of not supporting Taiwan independence, and opposing Taiwan's membership in international organizations requiring statehood -- including the UN and its member agencies, such as the World Health Organization. In doing so, the White House and has consistently relied on a "one-China" policy as the basis of its cross-Strait stance.

Nevertheless, since Chen took office, US officials have felt more comfortable in using Taiwan's democracy as an example for global democratic reform, and, in the process, have often referred to Taiwan as a "country."

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