A group of US congressmen have expressed support for President Chen Shui-bian's (
A major pro-independence Taiwan lobbying group has also called on President George W. Bush to repudiate the State Department's position opposing Chen's plan. In doing so, the group has echoed statements by other Taiwanese officials who resent the hard line taken by the department's China policymakers, and rejected reports that Bush himself was angry at Chen's remarks.
Chen made the original remarks about the National Unification Council in a Lunar New Year's address, in which he also pushed for Taiwan to try to enter the UN under the name Taiwan and for a new constitution to be put to referendum next year.
"Chen Shui-bian is a man of peace," three members of the House of Representatives said in statements on the House floor on Wednesday.
The three congressmen, all Republicans, were Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Pete Sessions of Texas and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.
Addressing the unification question, Garrett said that the NUC "has long had its effectiveness in question," adding that Chen "does not want to see unification become the only option for cross-strait relations."
"China must learn to respect the aspirations of Taiwan's 23 million people who want to be masters of their own land," Garrett said, in comments repeated by Sessions and Foxx. "Taiwan is a free and democratic nation and deserves to be treated with respect by the international community."
Sessions cited the House's 424-4 vote last spring that blasted China's passage of the "Anti-Secession" Law.
"China has no justification to change the status quo either through the `Anti-Secession Law' or military intimidation," he said.
Foxx recalled that over the past six years Chen has "kept his pledge" not to seek to change the status-quo in the Strait, and has "offered many goodwill gestures to China."
"Let's hope that China will reciprocate Chen's olive branch by renouncing the use of force against Taiwan and resuming dialogue on an equal footing and without preconditions," she and her House colleagues said.
Last week, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), a pro-independence lobby, sent Bush a letter urging him to "show strong support and encouragement for Taiwan's fragile democracy and side with the democratic forces on the island, instead of inhibiting creative thinking about Taiwan's future."
The letter said that the recent State Department comments "inhibit a constructive dialogue and a further positive enhancement of relations between the United States and Taiwan."
By telling Taiwan not to change the status quo, "The US is preventing the island from ridding itself of the anachronistic remnants of its repressive past [under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)], while it gives China a say in decision-making on a democratic Taiwan's future that should be made solely by the Taiwanese people themselves," the Feb. 3 letter said.
It also called on the US to "gradually work towards normalization of relations" with Taiwan.
"The constant reiteration of the `One China' policy is not helpful," said the letter, which was signed by FAPA president C.T. Lee (
A copy of the letter was also sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Meanwhile, in Taipei, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday submitted a letter to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to appeal for Bush's support for Chen's proposals to abolish the NUC. The TSU urged the US to abide by its founding principles in supporting Taiwanese people's freedom to decide their own future.
The letter was accepted by an AIT security official yesterday, but the institute made no comment on the letter.
Additional reporting by Chang Yun-ping
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no