Taiwan Communiqué No. 102, September 2002

Report from Washington

Thank you Richard Bush

Richard Bush
Mr. Bush with President Chen in August 2000

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!

Senate resolution on Taiwan's future

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:

Expressing the sense of the Congress that the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully, through a democratic mechanism, with the express consent of the people of Taiwan and free from outside threats, intimidation or interference.

  • Whereas in the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed on September 8, 1951
  • (3 U. S. T. 3169) (in this resolution referred to as the "treaty''), Japan renounced all right, title, and claim to Taiwan;
  • Whereas the signatories of the treaty left the status of Taiwan undetermined;
  • Whereas the universally accepted principle of self-determination is enshrined in Article 1 of the United Nations Charter;
  • Whereas the United States is a signatory of the United Nations Charter;
  • Whereas the United States recognizes and supports that the right to self-determination exists as a fundamental right of all peoples, as set forth in numerous United Nations instruments;
  • Whereas the people of Taiwan are committed to the principles of freedom, justice, and democracy as evidenced by the March 18, 2000, election of Mr. Chen Shui-bian as Taiwan's President;
  • Whereas the 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States defines the qualifications of a nation-state as a defined territory, a permanent population, and a government capable of entering into relations with other states;
  • Whereas on February 24, 2000, and March 8, 2000, President Clinton stated: "We will . . . continue to make absolutely clear that the issues between Beijing and Taiwan must be resolved peacefully and with the assent of the people of Taiwan'';
  • Whereas both the 2000 Republican party platform and the Democratic party platform emphasized and made clear the belief that the future of Taiwan should be determined with the consent of the people of Taiwan; and
  • Whereas Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on March 16, 2001, that "what has changed is that any eventual agreement that is arrived at has to be acceptable to the majority of the people on Taiwan'': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that

  1. the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully, through a democratic mechanism such as a plebiscite and with the express consent of the people of Taiwan; and
  2. the future of Taiwan must be decided by the people of Taiwan without outside threats, intimidation, or interference.

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