No plan for Tsai to speak in US capital

‘THE RIGHT THING’::Tsai addressing the US Congress would follow the tradition of allowing world leaders who stand for democracy to appear before the assembly

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jan 23, 2019 - Page 3

There is no plan for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to deliver a speech at the US Congress, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, a day after a former US defense official called on the US’ administrative and legislative branches to show support for the “brave Taiwanese leader” by allowing her to visit Washington.

“The ministry thanks our American friend for his support, but we do not have such a plan,” ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said, after an opinion piece on the matter by Joseph Bosco, former China country director in the office of the US secretary of defense, was published in the political newspaper The Hill.

Bosco said that amid China’s mounting threats against Taiwan, US congressional activism on behalf of Taiwan has increased as evidenced by the US Congress’ passage in February last year of the Taiwan Travel Act (TTA), which encourages mutual visits by high-level US and Taiwanese officials.

“It is time for Congress and the [US President Donald] Trump administration to take the US-Taiwan relationship to the next level by carrying out the TTA’s mandate to end Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation and the TRA’s [Taiwan Relations Act] larger purpose of ensuring its democratic security,” Bosco wrote.

“Congress should set the example by inviting President Tsai to address a joint session, thereby according her the honor and dignity she and the people of Taiwan deserve,” he said.

Such an invitation would follow the tradition of allowing world leaders who stand for democracy, freedom and human rights to appear before the US Congress, Bosco said.

Given the record number of women serving in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, it would be particularly appropriate to host Taiwan’s first female president and Asia’s only current female leader, he added.

Bosco also urged Trump to avoid making a similar mistake as then-US president Gerald Ford, who in 1975 refused to meet with Russian Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn to avoid offending the leaders of the Soviet Union.

“Washington should not be reluctant to do the right thing — supporting and honoring a brave Taiwanese leader, and her country, is the right thing to do,” he said.

In related news, the ministry yesterday expressed its gratitude to US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver for reiterating the US’ security commitment to Taiwan.

Schriver said in an interview with Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun on Friday last week that Taiwanese should have a say on their own future instead of being forced to accept a certain outcome, adding that the US would continue to offer Taiwan security assistance in accordance with the TRA.

However, Schriver denied that Washington was planning to hold a joint military exercise with Taiwan.