On the following pages we present views and commentaries on Taiwan's international relations, initiatives in the U.S. Congress, and Taiwan's quest for membership in the United Nations. You will find news items and background information on recent, current and upcoming events which touch Taiwan, its people, society, political system, relations with other nations, and quest for international recognition, including membership in the UN.
For news and events in earlier years, see our Overview 1995 - 1996.
Taipei Mayor Chen to become DPP chairman . Taipei Mayor and likely presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian appears poised to become DPP Chairman after the incumbent chairman Hsu Hsin-liang announced on 28 December 1997 that he would not seek another term.
Washington Post editorial: "Taiwan's milestone". On Wednesday, 17 December 1997, the Washington Post, published an editorial commentary on the November 1997 elections in Taiwan, titled "Taiwan's Milestone". While the editorial is overall very positive about the developments in Taiwan, it still contains a number of misconceptions, which should be cleared up immediately.
U.S. Defense experts: "Russia and Israel aiding Chinese with military technology". U.S. defense experts said on 11 December 1997, that they believe Russia and Israel are the main sources of advanced military technology for China's armed forces. Also, the top-ranking official at the Pentagon responsible for Asia warned that the United States must keep closer tabs on potentially threatening Chinese military modernization.
China's PLA plans to threaten Taiwan. According to press reports in Hong Kong, the Chinese Central Military Commission held a meeting in the beginning of December 1997, in which it discussed weapon development for the 21st century, with the specific purpose of intimidating Taiwan.
The Economist: "Taiwan nudges towards Independence" . On 7 December 1997, the London-based weekly magazine "The Economist" published an insightful article about the election results in Taiwan.
Taipei mayor Chen Shui-bian: "Let the Taiwanese decide their future" On Tuesday, 3 December 1997, Taipei mayor and leading opposition candidate for Taiwan's presidency Mr. Chen Shui-bian said the DPP-party stands by its call for a referendum to decide whether the island should declare independence.
Wall Street Journal: "Confident Taiwan". On Monday, December 1, 1997, the Wall Street Journal published an excellent editorial about the Taiwanese elections in its Review & Outlook section, titled "Confident Taiwan."
Major election victory for oppositionOn Saturday, 29 November 1997, the pro-independence democratic opposition won a major victory by winning 12 positions, doubling the seats they now hold. Even more importantly, the opposition candidates won 44 percent of the vote, for the first time in historysurpassing the Kuomintang -- which dropped to 42 percent. Look at the result in facts and figures.
The election results in Taiwan show that the people on the island are not satisfied with the Kuomintang's status quo, and want change. They want change on the island itself, away from the corruption and lack of public safety which characterizes the Kuomintang's rule. And they want to be accepted by the international community as a full and equal member. Read about the significance of these elections.
Democratic opposition to gain in local elections On Saturday, 29 November 1997, elections will be held in Taiwan for 18 positions as County magistrates and 5 city mayor posts. The pro-independence democratic opposition is expected to make significant gains, and strongly erode the Kuomintang's traditional hold on power.
President Lee: "Taiwan is independent." On Friday, 7 November 1997, in separate interviews with two major international newspapers, Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui declared that Taiwan is "an independent, sovereign nation."
Stop isolating Taiwan. At a October 29th, 1997 rally of Taiwanese-Americans on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) urged the U.S. and the international community to recognize Taiwan's independent status and press for its admission into various international organizations as a full participant.
Taiwanese protest China nuclear deal. Thousands of Taiwanese marched through the streets of Taipei on Sunday, 26 October 1997, to voice their opposition to the U.S.-China nuclear deal that would allow U.S. nuclear reactor sales to Beijing.
Taiwanese response to Clinton's speech. On 24 October 1997, President Clinton gave what was announced as a major policy speech on U.S.-China relations. Below is the text of the response by the Taiwanese-American community.
Say "YES" to Taiwan. With the visit of China's President Jiang Zemin to Washington, there was another public debate about Taiwan and its status.
Iceland's courage. Yet another small nation has shown that it can stand up to China: Iceland. The island's Prime Minister, David Oddsson, ignored Chinese protests and went ahead with a meeting with Taiwan's vice president Lien Chan.
China getting nervous about protests. According to recent news reports, China is getting nervous about the protests planned in the United States during the upcoming visit of president Jiang Zemin to Washington and other U.S. cities.
Wrong flag for president Lee Teng-hui. As is well-known, the Kuomintang authorities on Taiwan still refer to their government as "Republic of China", while the democratic opposition has long argued to adopt the name "Taiwan" as name of the country. How confusing the "Republic of China" name is to anyone not steeped in the KMT's lingo, became apparent during President Lee Teng-hui's recent visit to Honduras !!!
Panama and Sao Tome stand up. China has a habit of trying to bully small nations. Back in April 1997, it threatened Denmark and the Netherlands because these nations supported introducing the resolution on human rights in China in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. In August 1997 it was Panama and Sao Tome's turn.
New geography and history for Taiwan's students. Under the KMT rule, Taiwan's students have had to memorize quaint facts about China's geography and history, while they learned very little about Taiwan itself. Finally, the Ministry of Education in Taipei decided to correct the situation, and had a series of textbooks written, titled "Getting to Know Taiwan", which is being introduced in Taiwan's junior highschool classrooms in September 1997.
Resolution in the U.S. Senate. On Thursday, 31 July 1997, U.S. Senators Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and Sam D. Brownback (R-KS) introduced a Resolution in the U.S. Senate in support of Taiwan as a free and democratic country
House Resolution: "Taiwan in the UN". On Tuesday, 29 July 1997, U.S. Congressmen Solomon (R-NY) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) introduced a Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of Taiwan's membership in the United Nations.
Kuomintang's majority in Legislative Yuan down to one. On Wednesday, 30 July 1997, the ruling Kuomintang's majority in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan fell to just one seat, when a KMT lawmaker quit the party, stating that it was corrupted by vote buying and influence peddling.
Discarding "Taiwan Province". On Friday, 19 July 1997, Taiwan's National Assembly voted by an overwhelming majority of 261-8 votes to eliminate the provincial government, and anachronistic left-over from the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists still ruled China.
Pro-independence on the rise. 11 July 1997. An opinion poll in Taiwan, conducted just after Hong Kong's absorbtion by Beijing, showed that the percentage of the Taiwanese population in favor of formal independence is rising fast.
Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Wednesday, 18 June 1997, U.S. Congressmen Deutsch and Chabot introduced a Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of Taiwan as a free, democratic and independent country.
Majority of Americans support Taiwan independence. On 16 June 1997, The Wall Street Journal published the results of an opinion poll which shows that almost two-thirds of Americans support recognizing Taiwan as an independent country.
European Parliament adopts Taiwan Resolution On 12 June 1997 , the European Parliament meeting in Strassbourg, France adopted a Resolution in which it called on China to renounce the use of force in its disputes with Taiwan and urged for better international representation for Taiwan within international organizations.
Newsweek interview with Zhu Rongji On May 26th, 1997 , Newsweek published an interview with China's Deputy Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, titled "Beijing's toughest Boss." Mr. Zhu remarks had us Taiwanese rolling in the aisles with laughter. Does he himself believe anything he says ? Read the Taiwanese reaction to the interview.
Californians write Feinstein. Over the past years, California Senator Dianne Feinstein has been a major pro-China voice in the U.S. Senate. Through the business dealings of her husband she also benefitted from trade and investment in China. Recently, Taiwanese-Americans in the Bay Area wrote her a strong letter of protest.
Gingrich, Gore, and "One China." The visits by Vice-President Al Gore and House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the end of March 1997, raised new questions about the appropriateness of continuing the anachronistic "One China Policy." An appeal for a new "One China, One Taiwan" policy, based on the present-day reality of a new Taiwan.
The Dalai Lama welcomed in Taiwan. On 22 March 1997, the Dalai Lama arrived in Taiwan and received a tumultuous welcome in the southern port-city of Kaohsiung.
DPP's Annette Lü elected in Taoyuan. On 15 March 1997, by-elections were held in Taoyuan County to fill the seat of the County magistrate. Former political prisoner Annette Lü Hsiu-lien was elected with an overwhelming majority. She has been in the forefront of the "Taiwan into the UN" campaign.
Taiwan commemorates its "February 28" Holocaust. On 28 February 1997, Taiwanese on the island and overseas commemorated the "February 28" Incident, the brutal KMT crackdown in 1947, which marked the beginning of 40 years of Martial Law on the island and repression of the Taiwanese people by Chiang Kai-shek's Chinese Nationalists.
Deng Xiaoping, a mixed legacy. The death of Deng Xiaoping, on 19 February 1997, prompted a torrent of commentaries in the international press. Most recalled his role in the continued repression and lack of political freedoms in China. His legacy in shaping China's relations with Taiwan is also dismal: he failed to recognize that Taiwan has become a free and democratic nation.
The John Huang - China connection. An issue which continues to mar US-China relations is the John Huang / Lippo case. On 13 February 1997, the Washington Post reported that the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC had been involved in attempting to raise funds to donate to the Democratic National Committee, with the purpose of influencing US policy on China.
Taiwan becoming Taiwan. From 23th through 28th December 1996, the Taiwan authorities organized a multi-party National Development Conference in Taipei aimed at gaining a broader consensus on the island on Taiwan's future. The delegates decided that Taiwan will 1) Continue an active foreign diplomacy, and seek to enhance Taiwan's separate diplomatic standing by winning international recognition, 2) streamline the governmental system by dismantling the Provincial Government and National Assembly, and 3) realign the responsibilities of the President and the Legislative Yuan.
Hollow Chinese promises in New Year address. On 1 January 1997, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, in a New Year speech broadcast on Chinese state television, called on "...Taiwanese from all walks of life to offer views and suggestions on ways to unify the mainland and the island." To Taiwanese around the world, Mr. Jiang's words sound as hollow as ever.
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Last modified: 30 December1997