Two US congressmen jointly published an editorial on Friday defending President Chen Shui-bian's (
The article, which was published in the Washington Times, was jointly written by California Representative Dana Rohrabacher and Ohio Representative Steve Chabot, who are the co-chairmen of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, a pro-Taiwan group in the US Congress.
While Chen's political opponents and their allies in China "seized the opportunity" to suggest that Chen's proposal was a dangerous move that would undermine the cross-strait status quo, the two congressmen dismissed such claims as "making a mountain out of a molehill."
They wrote that Chen's statement was not as dangerous as it was irrelevant. "It was a thought, not a plan," they wrote.
"Having observed Taiwan and its leaders over many years, we find it ironic that Mr. Chen's comments have received such attention. We say this because despite the labels that opponents have tried to attach to him, Mr. Chen has been perhaps the most responsible adherent to the `status quo' during his six years in office," they wrote.
"And he has been the only one to recognize its inviolability in such a formal manner -- through a well-received formulation [known as the `four no's plus one!'] both at the beginning of his tenure and after his second inaugural address," the article said.
"Unfortunately, other parties to this longstanding diplomatic conundrum have not felt bound recently by the same sense of responsibility. For the parties to the Taiwan Strait issue, the `status quo' has not always meant the same thing. In some ways, this has helped prevent conflict for half a century, a period in which Taiwan has seen growing economic prosperity and democratic freedom. But of late, certain actions have been taken that defy anyone's definition of the status quo -- and which go far beyond the words Mr. Chen has used in recent weeks," the authors wrote.
"Take for example the [People's Republic of China's (PRC)] decision to adopt a so-called `Anti-Secession' Law in March of last year, a measure that in effect provides legal authority for China's leaders to invade Taiwan. Or China's offer -- and the acceptance -- of invitations for Taiwan's opposition leaders to visit Beijing and discuss cross-strait matters last summer. In both instances the United States stood by Mr. Chen, calling on Beijing to engage in dialogue with Taiwan's elected leader rather than continue its diplomatic grandstanding -- not to mention its overt interference in Taiwan's domestic politics," the article said.
"In a unique instance of zoological diplomacy," the article continued, "Mr. Chen's opponents now want him to accept China's proposed `gift' of two giant pandas, despite the fact that accepting them on the PRC's terms would in effect succumb to its vision of Taiwan as a subservient province of the mainland Communist regime. This is the context in which Mr. Chen's recent comments must be understood. In the face of these unmistakable distortions of the status quo over the past year -- and the growing threat posed by the deployment of Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan -- Mr. Chen has countered by questioning the viability of an institution that has little relevance to the current debate," the authors added.