US Congress welcoming former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui
"Father of Taiwan's democracy"
At a Congressional reception, held in the US Capitol Building on Wednesday, October 19, 2005, the following members of the US Congress spoke:
Congressman Tancredo (R-CO): Thank you for joining us today. President Lee, we have something to
present to you, here. These are the remarks that will be introduced
into the Congressional Record. (Reads remarks).
We also have a flag that has flown over the Capitol for you, Sir. And
I also want to tell you, that some day soon we hope to welcome the
sitting President of Taiwan here.
Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD): Thank you very much. I wanted to make a particular point that it is a
privilege to welcome President and Mrs. Lee to the United States and
especially to this reception. President Lee has been a dedicated
public servant. Taiwan has benefitted from his steadfast leadership.
Recently I had the honor of speaking to President Chen during his
transit visit to the US. I shared with him how much the United States
appreciates the friendship of the people of Taiwan. Maintaining a
strong relationship between the US and Taiwan remains a high priority
in the US Congress.
In addition, Taiwan's embrace of democracy is crucial to these efforts.
We applaud Taiwan's continued efforts to build a strong democracy. We
hope for a continued dialogue with China and the peaceful settlement of
We look forward to continuing to work with you and the people of Taiwan
in developing a strong and prosperous relationship. Once again, we
hope you have a wonderful visit to the United States, and we thank you
President Lee for your service to your country and for all you have
done to bring peace and prosperity around the world.
Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL): Together with Congressmen Rohrabacher, Chabot and Brown, we are the
founders of the bi-partisan Congressional Taiwan Caucus, along with the
bi-partisan Senate Caucus, this is an effort within our halls of
Republicans and Democrats alike to welcome President Lee.
Much has been said of the "Father of Democracy". One thing needs to
be emphasized: which is the extraordinary insight that president Lee
had, the understanding that as Taiwan grows more democratic and more
free, so will the relationship between the United States and Taiwan
grow. And that is the realization that has become fact, and that is
something that all of us, Republicans and Democrats, as Americans, can
celebrate with you as democratic and free Taiwanese people. We
congratulate you on your presence here in the United States Capital.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): Today you are welcoming a great hero of freedom in the nation's
capital. Last night there were some demonstrators outside the building
where we were having dinner, and they called President Lee "a
President Lee, I want you to know that you are now in the Capital of
the United States, where we celebrate those who make trouble for
tyrants. We have a monument for some of the greatest troublemakers of
history, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington: they were troublemakers
for the tyrants of their day.
President Lee, as I say another hero of freedom, is making trouble for
the tyrants of our day. I am so proud of you, and your great
It is always sad for me to notice the timid, timid behavior of the
current Administration here in Washington in the shadow of the tyrants
who rule China. We should have people here from this Administration,
welcoming you as a champion, and a person who shares the ideals of the
American people, rather than being worried of what the reaction will be
Today, we speak for the American people in the Nation's Capital, and we
say: the American people have a love of justice and liberty in their
heart, and we share that now with the people of Taiwan. And we are so
proud that the people of Taiwan, under your leadership, that you are
now giving an example to all the rest of Asia that freedom and
democracy is the birthright of all people. History will record that
you are a champion of freedom and a friend of the people of the United
States. God bless you, and welcome to our country.
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA): I am Brad Sherman from America's best-named city: Sherman Oaks, CA. It
is an honor to be here with the father of Taiwanese democracy. We need
to focus on the security of the Taiwanese people. Some of that
security will come when the United States begins to treat Taiwan as a
true friend, and bring your successors here for official visits. It
was such a shame in 1995, that your visit was not recognized as an
I see a number of my friends from the House International Relations
Committee, and perhaps my brightest moment on that committee was that
with their help we were able to pass legislation creating for Taiwan
the status equivalent to major non-NATO ally, and that is so important
when it comes to providing for Taiwan's defense, because it is no
secret that your larger neighbor across the Strait does not necessarily
accept the Taiwanese people, and poses a threat to Taiwanese security.
I look forward to the day when Taiwan joins the World Health
Organization, and so many other international organizations. We in
Congress have been pushing that for a long time. A number of us
supported a provision that would provide that if China were to ever to
threaten Taiwan or take military action that that would immediately
revoke MFN status for China. Because China must know without doubt
that any military action against Taiwan will lead to immediate
And finally, a number of us were on the floor and we will get this
passed in some form: to tighten any licensing requirements and
otherwise penalize forms in Europe if those firms ever sell weapons to
China. But hopefully our friends in the European Parliament have
heard from us, and recognize that the European Union should continue to
not sell weapons to China as long as China remains a threat to the
people of Taiwan.
I look forward to greeting your successor on a official visit and
hopefully he will be very relaxed because hopefully he will represent a
Taiwan that no longer faces these kind of threats.
Congressman Hilda Solis (D-CA): I had the pleasure of meeting President Lee back in 1995 when he came
to visit us in California in Pasadena. And I recall getting a letter
from the Chinese government, imploring us not to meet with him. But we
And now I am here as a member of Congress and a member of the
Congressional Taiwan Caucus, and I have entered into the record also a
salutation, welcoming you. And I am proud to represent "Little Taipei"
of California, the city of Monterey Park.
Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ): Greetings friends. I want to welcome you as well, and I am honored to
be here with you, and to salute you for your work in the past for
freedom, democracy and liberty, but also more than that: this last year
I had an opportunity to visit with you and spend some time with you. I
learned about your activities and your writings, and realized that we
should also salute you for your views and information on the economy
and Taiwan's security, development of your country, and as well as the
culture of your people.
For that we thank you, for not only the past, but also for the vision
that you project for the future of your country as well.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): You'll have to pick me up!! I represent Miami Florida, and am so honored to be here with you today. I was born in a free Cuba.
Unfortunately Cuba is now ruled by a dictator, it is a Communist
country where human rights are not respected, and that is why I
identify so much with the suffering of the people of Taiwan, who yearn
to be a sovereign country where human rights are respected, where
democracy, the rule of law, and transparency of government will be
respected each and every day.
We here in the United States Congress are committed to making sure that
freedom, democracy , and human rights are going to be the rule
everywhere, in my native homeland, and in Taiwan, and in every place.
Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY): I am from Queens, which is known as "Big Taipei". I guess I am here
by mistake. I saw all these reporters, Congressmen, and newspaper
people. I know you don't do that for private citizens! I misheard
what they said, and I thought they were coming to see Bruce Lee. I just
wanted to get his autograph. I brought this for him to sign, but
Bruce Lee is not here, so I ask you to sign!
I just want you to know what President Lee is signing is the admission
ticket to his speech at Cornell ten years ago. For I had the
pleasure of introducing him at the reception, and one of the things I
said to him at that time was "hopefully someday soon we will be able to
greet you in Washington DC." President Lee, welcome to Washington!!
Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX): Former President Lee, welcome to Washington DC! Today is an
opportunity for your friends in the House of Representatives and those
here in Washington DC not only to welcome you, but on behalf of the
American people for members of Congress to say that we not only
respect, appreciate and love you, but we have respected you leading
your great nation to democracy, leading your great nation through the
years of your presidency.
More importantly, we want to express to all the Taiwanese people, and
to the world, not only that America fully stands behind our
relationship with Taiwan, but that we are also interested in Taiwan's
further growth in the world community. So it can become a member of
the World Health Organization, and other international organizations,
but also to the United Nations.
We believe that Taiwan as a sovereign nation, has both the right and
the responsibility in the general world community, to be a part of the
international relationship of the world community.
Members of Congress have stated many times in resolutions of support ,
in our visits that we make to Taiwan, that it is a relationship that
America holds true. We know that it will be a long-term relationship.
Welcome to America, and we look forward to your visit many more times.
Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ): Mr. President, it is such a honor for me to be in your presence. I was
compelled to be here for two reasons today. The first is that
President Lee has been a compelling voice for freedom and the shared
ideals of our two countries. And I think of equal importance: he is a
fellow alumnus of Cornell University. We share the university's pride
in your great achievements.
I think, Mr. President, the next couple of years will be a time when
the world will send a signal as to which side of the line we fall:
there is a side of the line that believes you can achieve your goals
through intimidation and aggression. That believes that the human
spirit is best dealt with when suppressed. That believes that order
and command and control form the top is the best way to organize a
We are not on that side of the line. You are not, as you have
demonstrated through your illustrious career. And we, Democrats and
Republicans in the House and the Senate, and our fellow Americans, we
are also not on that side of the line.
Our country is not perfect, but we are proud of our role as a defender
of freedom around the world. We are proud that we have used the
heartfelt sacrifices of our men and women who served in our diplomatic
corps, and our armed forces around the world. Not for treasure,
territory, power or influence, but for the spread of freedom for those
who do not share our nationality, but who share our aspirations.
We are so proud that we just witnessed half a way around the world in
Iraq, an amazing experience of a free election to ratify a
constitution. This would have been scarcely possible just a few years
ago. Many sacrificed for that opportunity, not in the least the Iraqi
people themselves. We are proud of the American men and women serving
in uniform and our diplomatic corps for making that possible. We think
it is emblematic for the American people's love for freedom, and we
know that your love for freedom has been exhibited throughout your life.
Freedom will be tested in the years to come, as it is being tested
today by an aggressor in your own region. We wish to have peace
ultimately with that aggressor. But that peace must be on the common
terms of shared values, not on a common threat of coercion. We believe
that one of the first tests of the side of the line on which we fall,
will be our country's response to the threats that are being made to
The United States is strong, I believe, not simply because we have the
strongest economy in the world, not because we have the richest
resources, although God has blessed us with those resources, we are not
strong because we have the mightiest and bravest military, although we
believe we do. I think the ultimate strength of our country is the
moral stand we have taken in favor of human liberty, at times when it
was inconvenient and difficult, and times at great sacrifice.
I will always remember the images in Tienanmen Square, nearly two
decades ago now, where people who were raised in an entirely different
culture showed uniquely American symbols to dramatize their aspirations
for liberty and freedom. It was a great compliment to the people of the
We believe in what our Secretary of State has called the "Public
Square test", which is to say that if you can stand in the public
square of a country and say things a critical as you can possibly say
about the leader of that country, and say those things with impunity,
and walk away a free man or woman, that says something about freedom in
That is true for your country, Mr. President, and you should be proud
of that. We want it to be true someday of your ominous neighbor across
the Taiwan Strait. And we believe that when it is true, not only will
the people of Taiwan be safer and more free, but so will the people of
the United States of America.
So we have a common bond here: we are facing a difficult in the
relation with the country I mentioned. We do not wish to be
provocative, hostile, or confrontational. But we wish to be resolute
in our stance for the principles of freedom.
So we recognize what you have accomplished, we are honored by your
presence here today, and we extend our hand of friendship to you, so we
can pursue our common goals and common aspirations.
Congressman John Duncan (R-TN): I simply want to welcome you here. I went to Taiwan a couple of years
ago. I was treated with great hospitality. Thank you for your
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): "It is always a thrill for me to see
President Lee. I look forward to the day when not only former
presidents of Taiwan can come to Cleveland, Ohio but also that the
current president of Taiwan can come over and travel freely to the
United States. I want Americans in the heartland to be exposed to
Taiwanese values, because I want them to see the economic miracle of
Taiwan and the democratization. And not just how this miracles serves
for Asia, but for the entire world."
Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC): "The first time I set foot on Asian soil was
in Taiwan. That was 15 years ago. Taiwan and the Taiwanese are very
significant and prominent friends of ours and we wish you very well."
Senator George Allen (R-VA): President Lee and all of y'all, welcome!
President Lee, it is wonderful to see you again. Eight years ago when
I was governor of VA we led a trade mission from VA to Taiwan and I was
so impressed with you then, I continue to be impressed with you today
for you haven't changed a bit.
But the thing I so admire about you, President Lee, is that you are
known as "Mr. Democracy." A man who had a vision. A man who had
strength. A man who had wisdom. And a man who inspired and motivated
the people of Taiwan. And you have set into the soil of Taiwan the
roots of the concept of liberty and democracy in Taiwan.
Taiwan is a country which is an example of free people and free
enterprise without the burdens and restrictions on the part of the
government. It proofs what free people can do. The ingenuity, the
creativity, the leadership and innovation in the people of Taiwan as
well as your healthy representative democracy is a model.
So let me say as one of the co-chairs of the Senate Taiwan Caucus (Tim
Johnson is a Democrat - I am a Republican) that we recognize that these
principles are not just principles for the United States, but they are
for people no matter what their culture is, their religion, their
background or their race.
Taiwan is an island, but it is a vibrant island. And what we want to
see in Asia, both the people of Taiwan and the people of the United
States, is the advancement of freedom and the best way to advance
freedom and liberty and peace is to stand strong for freedom in East
Asia. And it also means that we stand strong with our friends and
allies in Taiwan. We are going to make sure that you all determine your
future destiny. Not despots, not tyrants, not hundreds of missiles
pointed at your island. And so, militarily that is important.
In my view you should also be involved in the World Health
Organization. We are concerned for example about the Avian flu. But
because of the paranoia of the People's Republic of China, the doctors
and scientists of Taiwan are not allowed to participate. That is
foolish and we are going to continue to advocate this issue. Since
Taiwan can help in so many regards. With political ties, with trade
ties, we are going to stand strong together. We welcome you here to our
Capitol. We thank you for what you are doing. We thank you for leading
the people of Taiwan into freedom, justice and greater opportunity.
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH): "As a founding father of the Congressional
Taiwan Caucus is great to be here with the founding father of Taiwan
who is with is here today. It is truly an honor to be in your presence.
Taiwan should be a model for many other countries around the globe; on
how to do it right.
You only have to look on how people on one side of the Taiwan Strait
have benefitted and on how people on the other side of the Taiwan
Strait haven't. On how people in Taiwan are allowed to speak their own
mind, on how they are allowed to exercise religion, and the way they
are allowed to criticize their government - which is oftentimes very
healthy. You don't see these things in the PRC.
I would like to see the PRC model itself more after Taiwan. But there
is no question, as president Lee knows, that the PRC has building up
its military considerably over recent years. And that gives the people
of Taiwan and the people of the United States great concern. And there
is no question that it is less likely that military confrontation will
actually occur, if Taiwan is strong. If it is weak, it is more likely
that there will be confrontation. With 700 missiles pointed at Taiwan,
it is of critical importance that Taiwan is strong. And that is why it
is so critical, that Taiwan moves forward with its military defense
budget. So it is strong and not weak.
It is so good to have President Lee here. I wish that President Lee
when he was president of Taiwan would have been able to come to DC.
Just I wish that the current President and vice-President and minister
of defense and foreign minister could come to DC. I think it is a
tragedy, I think it is an embarrassment that the United States does not
permit these high-ranking officials to come here when they are in
office. And that is why the co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan
Caucus and many others agree that this should be changed. So that they
can come here.
But today we are so pleased to have president Lee here, who is a hero
of mine. Here in the United States Capitol. So, God bless Taiwan, God
bless President Lee, and God bless the United States of America!"
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY): "As a long time admirer of the
inspiration provided by the Taiwan story and as someone who is inspired
by the Taiwan story, I have had the opportunity to visit your great
country on several occasions. And to establish a lasting friendship
between our two countries. My purpose today is not just to echo the
complimentary words of my colleagues, but to make an important
observation. Senator Allen referred to the wisdom of President Lee. He
referred to the leadership skills of President Lee. I would like to
remind the audience here that those leadership skills President Lee got
from Cornell University [which happens to be in my upstate New York
district.] And so I am here as a delegation of one from my neck of the
woods, to say: "Welcome back!"
Rep. David Wu (R-OR): "[In Mandarin] Welcome to Washington DC,
President Lee. I hope President Chen can come to Washington DC too!"
That is all the Chinese I know, but maybe it says it all.
I am so pleased to be here in your company and in the company of so
many others here in the room, who truly stand as giants.
We live in a very odd time when democracy is spreading in so many
places. And many people have referred to the very strong democracy that
has developed in Taiwan. And I think that this is very, very, very
It is ironic, because we also live in a time, after having defeated
fascism and defeated communism during the last century, that the
ultimate triumph over Marxism is that some of the easy political
rhetoric that if we just engage with business with some people, that if
we just engage in regular trade relationships, that it will inevitably
lead to democracy.
I am here to say, and I think that the experience of many of you here
in the room, is that there is nothing inevitable in this world. History
is littered with inevitabilities that have never come to fruition. What
it takes to create and to sustain democracy are brave men and women who
are willing to risk all that they have. That is the lesson of our
national history; it is the lesson of Taiwan's historic experience.
And if it ever comes to the day that we forget that it takes men and women
of courage to stand up for democracy, to take those risks, and that it
takes free men and women elsewhere to create that breathing space for
these courageous people in their own societies. We should never do it
with tanks. We should never assume that economic relationships
automatically lead to democracy. It is human courage and human will
that achieves that. And that is the lesson that we need to remember for
the ages. And that is what you, Mr. President, embody as a lesson.
Thank you very much."
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC): "It is an honor to be with you here today. I
had the privilege and honor to visit Taiwan in 1995. I want to commend
you. I want to commend the strides towards democracy in Taiwan, due to
the great efforts of the people of Taiwan. Taiwan's extraordinary
economic prowess, which is an inspiration and model to the rest of the
world. Thank you."
Rep. Mark Kennedy (D-MN): "Thank you and welcome to America. I had the
opportunity to be in Taiwan just this last May and I tell you what
warmed my heart is that I saw freedom. Economic freedom. I saw
religious freedom. And I was very pleased to see that. And I saw
freedom that is potentially as vibrant and divisive as we have it here
But that is an example of the fact that democracy is there and alive.
We have such an affection for Taiwan because of your embrace of
democracy. We applaud your embrace of democracy, President Lee, and
encourage you in the future."
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): "Dr. and Mrs. Lee. I can not tell you how
meaningful your visit is to the United States of America. It is truly
an honor and a privilege for me to join my colleagues in welcoming you
here to our country. Your visit is long overdue. And for all of us to be
able to pay our respect to you, means so very, very much. I am so
pleased because of the close relationship between the United States and
And you have been key to Taiwan's democracy movement. You have given so
much to building the relationship between the US and Taiwan and to
So, for all of us, who spend so much of our career fighting for the
US-Taiwan relationship, we welcome you, we look forward to continuing
to work together with you. As I said: your visit is long overdue. And I
am honored to have a chance to say a few words to you and I know that
you will continue to work for peace and democracy in the Asian-Pacific