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Major events and issues:

October 2005: Former President Lee Teng-hui visits the US

February 2005: EU arms embargo against China

March 2004: Referendum and presidential elections

August 2002: President Chen: Going our own way

September 2001: Full and equal UN membership

March 2000 Presidential Elections

"Nation-to-nation" relations with China

Security in the Taiwan Strait

Chinese stealing nuclear secrets

Visit of Chinese premier Zhu Rongji

20 years Taiwan Relations Act

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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 cross-Strait disputes.

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 troublemaker."

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 accomplishments.

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 in Beijing.

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 official visit.

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 consequences.

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 went anyway.

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 society.

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 your country.

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 United States.

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 country.

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 friendship.

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 commendable.

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 in Washington.

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 Taiwan.

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 building democracy.

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 region."