Taiwan Communiqué No. 65, April 1995

Report from Washington

Lee Teng-hui's Travels: Cornell or Bust ?

Mr. Lee Teng-hui's travels abroad have attracted an extraordinary amount of international attention, not in the least because the Chinese authorities in Peking opposed his travel at every turn, whether he named them "vacation diplomacy" or "golf diplomacy." The last episode took place in May 1994, when the US State Department only granted Mr. Lee permission for a refueling stop at Hawaii, when he was on his way to central America. During the past few weeks, a tightly orchestrated campaign got underway in the US Congress to prepare for the next episode: granting Mr. Lee permission to visit the United States to attend a reunion at his alma mater, Cornell University in Ithaca, NY in June 1995. Cornell has invited Mr. Lee to attend and deliver the Olin lecture, a major campus event.

In two Concurrent Resolutions introduced in the Senate and the House on 6 March 1995, the Congressional proponents urged the Clinton Administration to grant Mr. Lee permission for a "private" visit to US soil to attend the Cornell event and an economic conference in Anchorage, Alaska.

Taiwan Communiqué comment: The move is creating a diplomatic headache for the Clinton Administration because of the opposition from China. However, this is precisely why the US should move ahead, and grant Mr. Lee permission to visit Cornell: to show China that with regard to Taiwan it cannot dictate its views on others in the international community. Still, Mr. Lee has not been democratically elected -- as was incorrectly stated by some members of the US Congress and one newspaper editorial (Wall Street Journal, 15 March 1995). He was appointed by the National Assembly in a closed process in March 1990. The National Assembly at the time still largely consisted of old mainlanders, elected in China in 1947. Only approximately 7.5% of the almost 800 members of the Assembly had been elected by the people of Taiwan.

But Mr. Lee is certainly democratically-minded, and deserves credit for guiding the previously repressive Kuomintang on the road towards democracy. He will have an opportunity to show if he can be truly democratically elected in the first direct popular elections of the President in March 1996. His visit to Cornell might even play a role in influencing that election.

"Taiwan-into-the-UN" Resolutions Galore

During the past few weeks, there has been a proliferation of "Taiwan-into-the-UN" resolutions in the US-Congress: in our previous issue we already reported on one text, which was proposed by Representative Gerald Solomon (R-NY). We argued that Mr. Solomon's effort was ill-advised, because it contained a number of critical weaknesses (see Taiwan Communiqué no. 64, p. 31). However, shortly afterwards, Mr. Paul Simon (D-IL) introduced a similar resolution in the Senate. In February, the two resolutions prompted cumbersome negotiations in Taipei between the Foreign Ministry and a number of DPP-legislators on a text which would be acceptable to both sides of the political spectrum in Taiwan.

However, while these negotiations on a new text were ongoing, the old text introduced by Senator Paul Simon was put on the table of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This Resolution (S.Con.Res. 3, "Relative to Taiwan and the United Nations") was passed unanimously on 22 March 1995 -- together with a "Let-President-Lee-visit-the-US" Resolution. In the meantime, in the middle of March, Mr. Solomon indicated his willingness to consider a proposal by Mr. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) to modify the text of his Resolution in the direction acceptable to the democratic opposition on the island. At the time of publication of this issue of Taiwan Communiqu_ no definitive text had been issued yet, but according to reports in Washington, a new resolution with language acceptable to both sides of the political spectrum in Taiwan will be introduced in April 1995 in the Senate by Foreign Relations chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) and in the House by International Relations chair Benjamin Gilman (R-NY).

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