Thu, Nov 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan to lose friend in US Congress

CHAMPION Tom Tancredo, who has for years been generating legislative proposals favorable to Taiwan, is set to turn his attention to pursuing the presidency next year

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Taiwan will lose one of its best friends in the US Congress next year when Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo is to resign his seat after years of consistently championing Taiwan's cause in the House of Representatives.

Tancredo decided to forgo re-election to the House to pursue his candidacy for the US presidency, which is what Washington pundits have described as a long-shot drive for the Republican nomination.

Tancredo has churned out a regular stream of legislative proposals favorable to Taiwan, some of which have gone on to receive unanimous approval by the House.

He has also been an insatiable writer of letters to officials in the administration of US President George W. Bush complaining of actions that are adverse to Taiwan or could hurt the nation's efforts to gain international recognition.

This year alone, Tancredo has introduced four major bills promoting Taiwan's international position and its relations with the US government, one of which has been approved unanimously by the House.

This year, the House approved by a voice vote a Tancredo measure banning the Bush administration from applying a series of State Department guidelines severely limiting communications between Taiwan and the US in Washington and elsewhere.

Tancredo's research drew attention to the department guidelines, which were the latest version of restrictions that went back to 1979, when the US switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The disclosure of the guidelines have energized Taiwan supporters in Washington who seek to improve US-Taiwanese relations and lift the lid on bilateral contacts.

In addition to the State Department guideline measure, three other Tancredo-originated bills on Taiwan have been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee this year.

The most far-reaching of these would re-establish normal diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Washington.

The two other bills would allow Taiwan to participate in next year's Beijing summer Olympic Games in the name and under the flag of its choosing, and would require that the head of the American Institute in Taiwan go through a normal Senate confirmation process for US diplomats.

Tancredo, who has represented his conservative Colorado district since 1999, will pursue a campaign that is notable for his vigorous stance against illegal immigration.

His departure from the House will leave Ohio Representative Steve Chabot and California Representative Dana Rohrabacher as the two leading supporters of Taiwan in the House.

In addition, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, and his Republican counterpart in the committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, are strong proponents of positions favorable to Taiwan, and recently pushed through a bill urging the Bush administration to stop blocking the sale of 66 advanced F-16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan. The measure was unanimously adopted by the House.

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