An Open letter to Mr. Dole

The Taiwanese Reaction to his Asia policy speech

On 9 May 1996, Republican Presidential candidate Robert Dole gave a speech outlining his Asia policy, at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. Below is the response from the Taiwanese community in the United States:

Mr. Robert J. Dole

Dole for President Campaign Headquarters

Dear Mr. Dole,

We want to express our concern about two statements about Taiwan in your Asia policy speech of May 9th, 1996. We appreciate your general support for Taiwan, including making advanced defensive weapon systems available to ensure the safety and security of the island. However, we strongly disagree with you on two points in your speech:

1. You congratulate President Lee " the first democratically-elected leader in Chinese history." We want to emphasize that the transition of the island from a repressive Kuomintang police state to an open democratic system is the achievement of the Taiwanese democratic movement of the island, which cherishes first and foremost its Taiwanese identity, and strives to strengthen its own distinct culture, language, social and political system.

The democratization process didn't have anything to do with China or with the Chinese people, and actually took place in reaction against the lack of democracy and human rights displayed by the Chinese -- both Nationalists and Communists.

2. You state that "it deserves to note that the party supporting moves towards Taiwan independence received barely 20% of the votes." This is also incorrect. The results of the elections showed that the Taiwanese voters support a strong "Taiwan first" policy, and were not intimidated by China's bullying. Both President Lee and Professor Peng of the DPP took a firm stance against China, and stated during the election campaign that they intended to further enhance Taiwan's international position by continuing to press for UN-membership and further diplomatic relations. Together these two won 75 percent of the vote. Mr. Lin Yang-kang, the only candidate advocating unification with China, received less than 15 percent of the vote. This shows that the overwhelming majority of the Taiwanese are for a free and democratic Taiwan, which has its own sovereignty.

We therefore urge you to end the anachronistic "One China" policy and move towards a new "One Taiwan, One China" policy which recognizes the reality that there is a new Taiwan, which wishes to be a full and equal member of the international community.

The notion that "Taiwan is part of China" is an outdated fiction which should be discarded immediately. Taiwan fulfills all requirements of a nation-state: it is a de facto independent nation, and deserves to be recognized as such.

Mr. Dole, we urge you strongly to hold the American principles of freedom, democracy, and self-determination high. We request you specifically

  1. to express clearly that it is the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future, free from coercion by China; and
  2. to make it clear that you support Taiwan's right to be a full member of the international community, including the United Nations.

If such expressions are forthcoming, there will be broad support for your campaign from the Taiwanese-American community.

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