On Friday, 7 November 1997, in separate interviews with two major
international newspapers, Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui moved
significantly closer to the position traditionally taken by the
democratic opposition on the island, by declaring that Taiwan is "an
independent, sovereign nation."
The first interview was given to Washington Post reporter
Keith B. Richburg, and published by the Post in a frontpage article
on Saturday, 8 November 1997 under the title: "Leader
asserts Taiwan is 'independent, sovereign."
The second interview was given to Jonathan Mirsky of the London
Times, and published in the Times on Monday, 10 November 1997,
in an article titled: "President
declares Taiwan 'free of Beijing."
The interviews generated considerable interest both
internationally and in Taiwan itself: it is the first time that
President Lee has expressed himself so openly in favor of
The move also received support in the U.S. Congress:
Representative Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote in a "dear
Colleague" letter dated 12 November 1997:
"I commend to your attention the attached article by
Keith Richburg in this past Saturday's Washington Post, entitled "Leader
Asserts Taiwan is Independent, Sovereign". In the story,
Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui states in no uncertain terms that
his government and his people view their island nation as an
The people of Taiwan have worked long and hard to
establish a thriving democracy. The world should respect their views
on the issue of self-determination, and if that wish is
international recognition of Taiwan's status as separate from China,
then the United States, as the leader of the free world should
support this position.
Please take a few minutes to read this important piece,
Member of Congress
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