Sun, May 07, 2006 - Page 3 News List

US officials protest Chen's treatment

TROUBLED Tom Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher vented their anger at the State Department for its diplomatic snub of the president during his trip to Latin America

By Nadia Tsao  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Two US Republican representatives, Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Dana Rohrabacher of Califor-nia, sent a protest letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday, questioning the Department of State's "humiliating" treatment of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Both Tancredo and Rohrabacher are members of the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations.

They wrote in the letter that they were "troubled" by recent reports in the international media indicating that the department had prevented a planned stopover in the continental US by Chen en route to Latin America.

"The Taiwan Relations Act places no statutory restrictions on visits by high-ranking Taiwanese officials. None of the communiques on which our misguided `one China' policy is based restrict visits from Taiwanese officials," the two wrote.

"Given China's continued efforts to block UN Security Council action on the Iranian nuclear issue and the genocide in Darfur ... Is there some direct linkage between the treatment of Chen and some effort by the Department to get Chinese cooperation on these other issues?" the congressmen wrote.

"Why were such restrictive and humiliating conditions applied to the transit, allowing only for refueling in either Alaska or Hawaii?" the letter continued.

They questioned also what exactly President George W. Bush's position on Taiwan was.

"The handling of this request was the most restrictive of any request since 1994 ... Has the department chosen to roll back 12 years of progress on visits and communication with Taiwan's elected leaders?" they said, asking how the State Department proposed to handle the next request by a Taiwanese president for a stopover in the continental US.

Finally, they questioned the department why Chen was treated like this after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was received by high-ranking US officials when visiting Washington during his recent US trip.

"Is Chen's [Democratic Progressive] party-affiliation the problem? Is the department `playing favorites' in an effort to influence Taiwan's domestic politics?" the two Taiwan supporters asked.

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