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President Chen Shui-bian's stop-over in Los Angeles

Washington, 13 August 2000

On August 13 and 14 2000, Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian made a stop-over in Los Angeles, enroute to the Carribean, where he was to visit the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

A number of members of the US Congress, many of whom were in LA to attend the Democratic National Convention, were planning to meet with the newly-elected president, who just entered office on May 20th 2000, after his March 2000 election victory.

The members of Congress included Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), Howard Berman (D-CA), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), David Wu (D-OR), Bob Wexler (D-FL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who have all been consistent supporters of Taiwan in the House.

However, the Clinton Administration put heavy pressure on the DPP-government to decline any requests by Congressmen to meet with President Chen. An aide to Congressman Gejdenson said that the Clinton Administration "…has pressured Chen not to meet with the lawmakers…".

Taiwan Communiqué comment: We suggest that this course of action by the Administration is yet another signal in the wrong direction: why is the democratically-elected leader of one of the most free and democratic nations in Asia shunned, and being treated like a pariah, while the leader of a repressive, communist-led government (Mr. Jiang Zemin) gets a red-carpet treatment at the White House in Washington.

If the US wishes to enhance democracy in Asia and the rest of the world it should display a more friendly attitude to those who through hard work and much personal sacrifice (read "A Profile of Courage" in issue no. 92 of our Taiwan Communiqué) brought about a democratic transition in their country. Instead of shunning Chen Shui-bian in LA, we should welcome him in Washington.

Both Berman and Rohrabacher wrote to Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific Stanly Roth to protest the restrictions.

Also read "House-arrest in Long Beach" by Mr. Timothy K. Gallaher of the University of Southern California.