Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 3 News List

US house to vote on Taiwan bill

PRAISEWORTHY The approval of a resolution calling for reinforcing US-Taiwan ties seems almost certain, as it has received support from both sides of the aisle

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

In one of its first legislative efforts this year, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee will this week debate a resolution supporting Taiwan's presidential election next month and praising Taiwan's democracy, freedoms and human rights record.

The resolution also encourages international delegations to visit Taiwan to witness the election.

The committee has scheduled a vote on the resolution at a meeting on Thursday.

The measure was introduced during the last days of the first session of the 110th Congress in December, with the expectation that it would be acted on early in the second session.

Approval of the resolution seems almost certain, as it has received bipartisan support and was introduced by the committee Chairman Tom Lantos, a Democrat, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the panel.

The resolution declares it to be the "sense of the Congress" that "the United States Government should reaffirm its unwavering commitment to Taiwan's democracy and security" and that "international delegations should be encouraged to visit Taiwan for the purpose of witnessing the residential elections in March 2008."

Describing Taiwan as "one of the strongest democratic allies of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region," the resolution says: "the United States and Taiwan share common ideals and a clear vision for the 21st century, where freedom and democracy are the foundations for peace, prosperity and progress."

It says that Taiwan "has dramatically improved its record on human rights and routinely holds free and fair elections in a multiparty system," as evidenced by the country's presidential elections in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Underscoring the point, the resolution adds: "Taiwan has demonstrated its unequivocal support for human rights and a commitment to the democratic ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, rule of law, and free and fair elections."

It also praises Taiwan for the stability of its democracy and for its "impressive economic prowess," despite the fact that it "faces constant military threat and intimidation" from China.

The resolution will be taken up and voted on along with six non-related bills during the committee's first legislative business meeting this year.

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