Several US politicians expressed their support for Taiwan after meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Monday in New York, where he is making a stopover enroute to Paraguay and the Carribean.
Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, a senior member of the US House of Reprentatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, said after his meeting at the hotel where Ma was staying that there is a strong feeling of support for Taiwan and the people of Taiwan in the US Congress.
“I think what’s very important about it: it’s bipartisan supported by the US Congress. It’s a bipartisan feeling. I know [US] President [Barack] Obama feels that way too. We will make sure that will continue,” Engel said.
The congressman also said he told Ma that the committee approved the Taiwan Policy Act at the beginning of this month, a bill that will help strengthen the strong ties between Taiwan and the US if it becomes law, Engel said.
US Representative Gregory Meeks, another Democrat who met with Ma at a dinner party hosted by the president at his hotel, said he had thanked Ma for his administration’s donation of US$500,000 to New York after the city was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy last year.
He said Ma and his guests talked about Taiwan’s visa-waiver privilege from the US and its bid for access to the International Civil Aviation Organization, and they agreed to promote further trade and economic exchanges between the two countries.
Ma also met on Monday with former US secretary of labor Elaine Chao (趙小蘭), along with her father, who was a classmate of Ma’s father-in-law, and her two sisters, who are friends of Ma’s two daughters.
Earlier in the day, Ma, who earned his master of laws degree from New York University (NYU) in 1976, visited the school, reminiscing about his romance with Chow Mei-ching (周美青), who is now his wife.
NYU president John Sexton greeted Ma and presented him with two NYU baseball caps, commemorative pens and his new books as gifts for Ma and his wife.
While at the university, Ma visited his old classrooms, a small basement office he used and the dormitory he lived in across the street from the office.
He also visited the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New York in China Town to express his appreciation to the association for its loyalty to the Republic of China (ROC).
The association, which was founded in 1883, represents Chinese-Americans living in the Greater New York metropolitan area. Ma is the first ROC president to visit the association.
Besides a welcoming crowd who waved ROC national flags, there were also a score of protesters, many of whom were Taiwanese students.
They held up banners similar to some seen when Ma arrived at his hotel on Sunday, such as “[You] knock down houses in Dapu today; [we] tear down the government tomorrow,” “Selling out Taiwan with black-hearted service trade pact” and “Do you hear the people’s voice?” and shouted: “President Ma, did you get a good sleep?”
According to local Chinese-Americans, there are very few Taiwanese living in or around New York’s Chinatown; most of the ethnic Chinese come from China’s Guangdong Province.
When asked whether they felt they were stepping on other people’s turf by staging a protest in a place that rarely has contact with Taiwanesee, the students said they were not scared, adding: “It feels less safe [if we protest] in Taiwan.”
Ma arrived in New York on Sunday on a three-day transit stop ahead of a five-nation tour that will cover Paraguay and four allies in the Caribbean.
It was the first time Ma has returned to New York since becoming president in 2008. He was scheduled to leave for Haiti yesterday.
Additional reporting by Peng Hsien-chun