FAPA President: "Let no country stand between Taiwan and independence"

On 7 August 1998, the Washington Times published the following letter by Professor Wen-yen Chen, President of the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA):

Let no country stand between Taiwan and independence

In his Aug. 2 commentary, "A war waiting to happen in Asia?" Doug Bandow observes that "the United States opposes self-determination by [the people of Taiwan]." Although disturbing and sad, Mr. Bandow's claim is correct.

Mr. Bandow weighs the right of self-determination, as enshrined in article 1 of the U.N. Charter, against China's threat to attack Taiwan once the people of Taiwan decide to exercise this right.

One should not forget that the United States is bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to come to Taiwan's side in case of a Chinese attack. No positive or negative conditions are spelled out in the act.

The last time its provisions were implemented was in March 1996, when the U.S. sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the Taiwan Strait. Mr. Bandow concludes: "Now, before the next crisis, is the time to adjust U.S. policy toward Taiwan."

Indeed, the administration's wavering on Taiwan's status should come to a halt. The United States must clarify its position on Taiwan. Any U.S. statement that China could construe as saying the United States would back down if China threatened force against Taiwan would only encourage China to do so. The more China believes that the United States would not stand idly by, the less likely it is that China would attack Taiwan.

Taiwan's future is not a matter for President Clinton, the American government or Beijing to decide. If the people of Taiwan decide through a democratic mechanism to opt for de jure independence, the international community in general and the United States in particular must honor that democratically constituted wish.

At the end of the day, only the people of Taiwan have the right to determine the future of Taiwan.

Prof. Wen-yen Chen

President, Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Washington

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