One of the most steady factors in US relations with Taiwan during the past years was Dr. Richard Bush, the highest US official dealing specifically with Taiwan, whose term as chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan ended in June 2002.
Since his appointment in September 1997, Mr. Bush worked hard to maintain US policy towards Taiwan on an even keel. This was not an easy assignment, certainly in the Clinton years, when policymakers in the White House were increasingly drawn towards Beijing, leading to the infamous "Three No" statement and other mis-statements by Mr. Clinton during his visit to China in June-July 1998.
Richard Bush was left with the un-enviable task of trying to repair the damage done by Mr. Clinton, and he succeeded to quite an extent by introducing the concept of "consent / assent of the people of Taiwan" in the future decisions on the status of their country. This concept was picked up by the Clinton Administration in its latter days, and became a cornerstone of US policy.
Mr. Bush's affinity for Taiwan started in the days when as a young graduate student at Columbia University, he spent almost a year in Taiwan, collecting material for his dissertation. In the early 1980s he joined the staff of US Congressman Stephen Solarz. Together with Republican Congressman Jim Leach and Democratic Senators Claiborne Pell and Edward Kennedy, Mr Solarz formed the "Gang of Four" leading advocates in Congress of human rights and democracy in Taiwan.
During this time, Mr. Bush came to know numerous leading tangwai ("outside-the-party") opposition figures on this island, who were often imprisoned by the Kuomintang authorities for advocating human rights and democracy on the island. Many of these subsequently became leading members in the DPP Administration of President Chen Shui-bian.
During his term as chairman of AIT, Mr. Bush continued the practice -- initiated by his predecessor Nat Bellocchi of maintaining close contacts with the Taiwanese community in the US. His door was also always open for the then democratic opposition in Taiwan, the DPP. He was thus a close witness of one the most significant political turning points on the island: the March 2000 election victory of President Chen Shui-bian.
Thus, on behalf of so many who worked so long for democracy and human rights in Taiwan: Thank you Richard Bush!
At the end of June 2002, a resolution was introduced in the US Senate in support of a free and democratic decision by the people of Taiwan on the island's future, without outside threats, intimidation, or interference.
The resolution, S. Con. Res. 123, was introduced on 25 June 2002 by U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.). It was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The text of the Resolution is as follows:
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