Former US representative Stephen Solarz, 70, has died of esophageal cancer in Washington.
Solarz, a Democrat, launched and supported major pieces of Taiwan-related legislation advancing freedom, human rights and international participation.
“Without Steve Solarz, it would have been hard for Taiwan to achieve the democratic values the country enjoys today,” Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) president Bob Yang (楊英育) said.
After serving in the New York State Assembly for six years, Solarz was elected to Congress, where he remained for 18 years.
As chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, Solarz held hearings in 1992 calling for the abolishment of the blacklist kept by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that barred scores of Taiwanese Americans from returning home.
Solarz told one Capitol Hill rally that no group had contributed so much to the US “and yet asked so little in return for themselves” as Taiwanese Americans.
With House colleague Jim Leach and senators Ted Kennedy and Claiborne Pell, Solarz contributed to the lifting of martial law in Taiwan in 1987.
“Their work laid the foundation for democratic reforms in Taiwan, the abolishment of martial law and the release of political prisoners such as Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明) and Lin I-Hsiung (林義雄),” FAPA said.