Wed, Feb 11, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Clinton asked to redraw Taiwan ties

NEW LEAF A pro-Taiwan lobby group also asked the US secretary of state to deflect any attempt by Beijing to tie cross-strait stability to a possible deal on climate change

By William Lowther  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is urging US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to redefine the US’ relationship with Taiwan.

In advance of Clinton’s much-heralded trip to China, FAPA is expressing concern that she will come under pressure to abandon Taiwan in exchange for Beijing’s cooperation on climate change issues.

“The time is now for the US to turn over a new leaf in its relationship with Taiwan,” FAPA president Bob Yang (楊英育) said.

Yang added: “With President [Barack] Obama’s human and civil rights background, redefining the US relationship is an idea whose time has come. The US needs to base its Taiwan policy on the values of democracy and human rights it shares with the island nation, and not on the dictates and threats of an undemocratic and authoritarian China.”

FAPA has written to Clinton stressing the “erosion of democracy and justice in Taiwan” and charging that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has failed to protect the nation’s interests and sovereignty during negotiations with China.

The letter says: “We understand that in the near future you will travel to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China. In exchange for its cooperation on climate change issues, the [Chinese] government will undoubtedly attempt to whittle away the support from the United States for Taiwan as mandated in the Taiwan Relations Act, which was passed three decades ago.”

It adds: “We urge you to stand up for the basic principles of human rights and democracy, and impress upon the government in Beijing that it should accept Taiwan as a friendly neighbor. Peace and stability in East Asia can only be maintained if the people of Taiwan have a free and open choice on their future, as stipulated in the principle of self-determination enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.”

The first suggestion that Beijing might try to make a deal on climate change at Taiwan’s expense appeared in the Washington Post last week.

“Some experts warn that China may demand a freer hand on such contentious issues as Taiwan and Tibet in exchange for working with the United States on reducing emissions,” the newspaper said.

While a senior source within the Ma administration has dismissed this possibility, the fact that FAPA is raising the issue again this week reflects growing concern that it could eventuate.

Making her first foreign trip as secretary of state, Clinton will be in Tokyo from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18; in Jakarta from Feb. 18 to Feb. 19; in Seoul from Feb. 19 to Feb. 20; and in Beijing from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22.

FAPA is a Taiwanese-American non-profit grassroots organization established in Los Angeles in 1982. It now has 55 chapters across the US.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

Also See: EDITORIAL: A shoe, Belgrade and Wen Jiabao

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