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Senators Write Clinton about Taiwan

Washington, 22 July 1999

In a letter dated July 21st 1999, four prominent Senators wrote President Clinton a forceful letter, urging him to be supportive of Taiwan.

United States Senate

July 21, 1999

Dear Mr. President:

We are shocked over the postponement of arms sale notifications for Taiwan and reports that the administration is considering additional punitive measures to express displeasure over President Lee's recent remarks on Taiwan's status.

We are also dismayed over the current missions to Beijing and Taipei by senior administration officials. Given the suspension of arms sales notifications and meetings and your administration's obvious verbal tilt toward Beijing during this latest flap, there is good reason to suspect that these missions will be designed to pressure Taiwan into backing off its recent policy statements.

Not only would this be an unforgivable affront to our friends in Taiwan, it would be a grave strategic blunder. Nothing could do more to increase the chances of Beijing precipitating a military crisis than for your administration to attempt to strong arm Taiwan and force them to back down. And Mr. President, few things could do more to poison the well between the administration and Republicans in Congress.

Rather than appeasing China and seeking to pressure Taiwan, your emissaries this week ought to deliver a sharp message to Beijing which denounces their hysterical reactions and pointedly reminds them of our legal and moral defense obligations to Taiwan. Further, your emissaries should tell both sides that while we do not take a stand on the exact nature of Taiwan's status, we fully support democratically-elected President Lee and the people of Taiwan in their search for greater international status.

Mr. President, although the issues between Taiwan and China are complex, the simple truth is that Taiwan is a democracy and a friend of the United States, while the People's Republic of China is neither. Our policy must be based on this vital distinction.

We look forward to receiving your timely response. Sincerely,

Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, Paul Coverdell, Connie Mack