Taiwanese-Americans respond to President Clinton's China speech

Washington D.C., 27 October 1997

On 24 October 1997, President Clinton gave what was announced as a major policy speech on U.S.-China relations. It was in preparation of the visit of China's President Jiang Zemin to the United States during the last week of October 1997.

Below is the text of the response by the Taiwanese-American community. In a letter to President Clinton, the President of the Taiwanese Association of America, Mr. C.K. Kuo, wrote:

October 26th, 1997

Dear Mr. President:

On October 24th, you gave a China-policy speech at the Voice of America. In that speech you touched -- among other issues -- on the question of Taiwan's future:

"And I will reiterate to President Jiang America's continuing support for our one China policy, which has allowed democracy to flourish in Taiwan, and Taiwan's relationship with the PRC to grow more stable and prosper. The Taiwan question can only be settled by the Chinese themselves peacefully. "

As Taiwanese-Americans we take strong issue with your statement. It displays a distinct lack of understanding of two most elemental aspects of Taiwan's recent history and our identity:

  • Taiwan's progress towards democracy didn't have anything to do with U.S. "...continuing support for our one China policy". Taiwan evolved towards a democratic political system because of the hard work of the people in the Taiwanese democratic movement, which had to overcome major resistance from the repressive Kuomintang regime (which clung to its anachronistic claim to governing all of China). In fact, the democratization process in Taiwan occurred in spite of the "One China" policy.

  • To say that the "...Taiwan question can only be solved by the Chinese themselves peacefully" is as ludicrous as saying that the United States question can only be settled by the British themselves. We Taiwanese have emphasized time and again that we aspire to be a full and equal member of the international community, based on our Taiwanese identity and culture. We are not going to let our future as a free and independent nation be dictated by the Chinese Communists.

Mr. Clinton, we Taiwanese-Americans strongly urge you not to let any improvement of relations with China take place at the expense of the 21 million people of Taiwan or their future as a free, democratic and independent country. Statements like the one in your VOA speech show that you have not really heard or understood us in the Taiwanese-American community yet.

(signed) C.K. Kuo, President

Taiwanese Association of America

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Read the full text of the President's China speech

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