Sun, Jan 11, 2009 - Page 3 News List

US bill calls for diplomatic ties

‘SEPARATE RECOGNITION’ While the resolution is unlikely to be adopted, it would ensure that the issue of Taiwan remains present in the minds of politicians

By William Lowther  /  STAFF REPORTER, IN WASHINGTON

A resolution has been introduced into the US’ 111th Congress calling for president-elect Barack Obama to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It also calls for an end to the US’ “one China” policy and support for Taiwan’s full membership in international organizations.

While the resolution, which was written by long-time Taiwan supporter Congressman John Linder, a Republican from Georgia, has no realistic chance of changing US policies, it is important in that it keeps the issue alive and in the minds of the US’ top politicians.

A similar resolution was introduced in 2005 and 2007 by then congressman Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, who has since retired.

The US and Taiwan have not had official diplomatic ties since 1979 when Washington formally recognized China.

The new resolution asks Obama to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign and independent country separate from China.

It also says the president-elect should aggressively support Taiwan’s full participation at the UN and all other international organizations of which the US is a member.

“The introduction of Congressman Linder’s resolution during the first week of 2009 when the new Congress gets back to work is extraordinarily poignant as a reaffirmation of US Congress support for Taiwan,” said Bob Yang, president of the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs.

“Despite the severance of diplomatic ties by the US 30 years ago, Taiwan has flourished as a fledgling democracy with impressive economic achievements,” he said.

“The world recognizes Taiwan as a beacon of freedom. Separate recognition by the US of China and Taiwan could be a model for those nations which seek to align both countries in a mutual co-existing relationship,” Yang said.

Should the resolution ever come to a vote, it would be unlikely to attract more than the 151 ballots from the current members of the Taiwan caucus. It would need a majority of the 435 members to pass the House and would then face even more formidable odds in the 100-member US Senate, where it has not even been introduced.

A source close Obama’s foreign policy advisers told the Taipei Times: “Taiwan continues to enjoy many warm feelings in the US Congress. We are sensitive to the issue.”

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