Communiqué No. 76, June 1997
The Taiwan Factor
A bad day at the New York Times
Taiwanese and Taiwanese-Americans generally appreciate the objective
reporting and the sound editorial opinions of the New York Times.
They were therefore surprised, deeply hurt and shocked when the Times on
14 April 1997 published a totally biased and misinformed editorial, titled
"The Taiwan Factor."
In the editorial, the Times' editors attempted to link the then-evolving
fund-raising scandal to "Taiwanese-Americans", termed Taiwan as
being "within the historic boundaries of China, and referred to "diplomatic
adventurism" by Taiwan.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: if holding
democratic elections and striving for international recognition are
considered "diplomatic adventurism", then certainly all Western
nations ,including the United States are guilty of this offense. Does the
New York Times have suggestions for righting the wrongs of Taiwan's
history by being less shall we say "diplomatic adventuristic"?
The editorial prompted a flood of protest-letters of Taiwanese-Americans
and Taiwanese-American organizations. However, until now the New York
Times has failed to publish any of these letters.
We urge the New York Times editors to apologize for this incredibly bad
piece of editorialism, and publish at least one or two of the letters
written by Taiwanese-American organizations. Below, we print excerpts from
a letter, which we wrote:
To the Editor of the New York Times
Chevy Chase, April 15th, 1997
Your editorial titled "the Taiwan Factor" shows a
distinct lack of understanding of the important nuances regarding
Taiwan and US policy towards Taiwan. It totally fails to distinguish
between the Chinese mainlanders, like John Huang, and the Taiwanese
and the Taiwanese-Americans who are working hard for a free,
democratic and independent Taiwan.
The attempts by Mr. Huang, and the likes of Johnny Chung and
Charlie Trie, to buy influence in the United States are indeed an
outrage and very troubling. However, they consider themselves
Chinese-American and have nothing to do with the Taiwanese-American
As far as President Lee Teng-hui's visit is concerned: if a mere
visit of Mr. Lee to his alma mater can already lead to "...a
crisis in relations between the US and China" then we wonder if
the United States will really have the courage to stand up for the
principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations. These
principles give the people of Taiwan the right to self-determination
and the right to determine their own future, without any outside
interference by other countries such as China.
The people of Taiwan simply ask China to respect the right of the
Taiwanese to choose "life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness" as a free and independent country, which lives in
peaceful coexistence next to its big neighbor.
The people of the United States chose to provoke a crisis 200
years ago by declaring themselves independent from the mightiest
power on earth at that time, the British Empire. If you refer to our
attempts to establish an independent nation as "diplomatic
adventurism", then certainly you should be consistent, and
condemn U.S. independence. Why would it be right for the US to be
independent from Britain, and not right for Taiwan to be an
independent nation ?
Your editorial also mistakenly states that the present US policy "...commits
Washington to recognize only one government, Beijing's, within the
historic boundaries of China, which includes Taiwan." The US in
1972 indeed started to switch its recognition from the government in
Taipei to those in Beijing, as government of China.
However, the US did not recognize China's claim to Taiwan; the
1972 Shanghai Communiqué stated only that the US "acknowledged"
(=took note of) China's position. Taiwan has never been part of the
PRC and there is no reason that it should be.
Also, the historic boundaries of China do not include Taiwan:
before the 1600s, only aborigines lived on the island, and when the
Dutch landed in Anping (present-day Tainan) they found no trace of
administration by any mainland authority. Only after the Dutch
developed plantations there, did Chinese laborers from the coastal
provinces start to migrate to the island. They intermingled with the
aborigines, and a new identity was born, the Taiwanese.
Only in 1887, did the Chinese Emperor declare Taiwan a province of
China, but this exercise was short-lived: at the 1895 Treaty of
Shimonoseki, the Chinese emperor ceded sovereignty over Taiwan to
Japan, in perpetuity. Taiwan remained an integral part of the
Japanese empire until 1945, and most older Taiwanese speak only
Japanese and Hok-lo (Taiwanese), no Chinese Mandarin.
The sensitive issues surrounding relations with Taiwan and China
should be dealt with in a fair, informed and just manner. Your
editorial was misinformed on a number of key facts, and thus did not
treat these issues in a fair and objective manner.
Repr. Andrews: recognize Taiwan as equal participant
Over the past few months, the pressure in the US Congress to accept
Taiwan as an equal member in the international community has been growing.
At the end of April 1997, US Congressman Robert E. Andrews (NJ) made the
The United States has had a long and prosperous relationship
with Taiwan. As a member of the House International Relations
Committee, I believe the US must do more to stand by the 21.5
million Taiwanese in their struggle for sovereignty against the
Peoples Republic of China (PRC).
America has refused to recognize Taiwan diplomatically, even
though the U.S. is Taiwan's largest trading partner and a close
military ally. Instead, U.S. policy defers to a communist regime,
which claims to represent all of China, including Taiwan. Our
appeasement of the Chinese government reached new lows two years ago
when the State Department denied the duly elected leader of Taiwan,
President Lee Teng-hui, a visa to visit the United States in a
private capacity. We cannot justify such actions. On 2 May 1995 I
voted with my colleagues in Congress, strongly asking the State
Department to reconsider its decision. Our efforts led to the
reversal of that decision....
We should reaffirm our relationship with Taiwan and show our
commitment to the island's people by supporting Taiwan's entry in
the United Nations. I have led support for a bill (H.Con.Res. 63)
that states (1) Taiwan should be a full participant in the UN and
its related agencies; and (2) the Clinton Administration should
immediately encourage the UN to accept Taiwan as a member. This bill
lays the foundation for a sustained relationship between the United
States and Taiwan. In addition, I believe Taiwan should be allowed
to join the new World Trade Organization that was created by the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Taiwan is a model emerging democracy, with 21.5 million
peaceful people eager to join the international community. As the
leading nation in the world promoting democracy, the United States
has both a duty and obligation to support the growing democracy in
Taiwan through the Taiwan Relations Act. I fully support upholding
this Act and sponsored legislation last year (H.Con.Res. 140) that
called upon the President to review the defense needs of Taiwan and
take appropriate action where needed. This crucial legislation
declared that any attempt by the PRC to threaten the peace and
security of Taiwan would be a threat to the peace of the pacific and
a threat to the interests of the United States. China should no
longer be allowed to threaten the safety of the people of Taiwan.
I am not suggesting that the United States should completely
sever its relations with mainland China. persuading the Chinese
government to peacefully resolve the Taiwan issue is in the interest
of all three countries. Right now, the best means to promote
fairness is to pressure international bodies to recognize Taiwan as
an equal participant.
A new Secretary-General for the Presbyterian Church
In April / May 1997, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan elected Reverend
William Lo to be its new Secretary-General, starting June 1998. He has
served as the minister of one of Taipei's downtown churches, and has
played an active role in both the social and political movement in Taiwan.
He is also an outspoken proponent of Taiwan independence
The Presbyterian Church has maintained a strong sense of social concern
for the people in Taiwan and the future of Taiwan. In the 1970's the
Church made three public proclamations, which provided strong impetus for
the movement for human rights and democracy on the island.
Reverend William Lo
The Presbyterian Church also has strongly supported Taiwan independence.
Already in 1977, it issued the "Declaration on Human Rights",
which stated that "... the government should take effective measures
whereby Taiwan may become a new and independent country."
In 1991 the Church issued the "Public Statement on Sovereignty of
Taiwan", which emphasized that the authorities should discard the old
"Republic of China" Constitution, and adopt a new constitution.
It also stated that, while a mutually beneficial relationship should be
built up between Taiwan and China, neither one has the right to claim
sovereignty over the other.
Taiwan DC Internet homepage expands
Over the past months, the Taiwan DC Internet homepage "Taiwan, Ilha
Formosa" at http://www.taiwandc.org
has expanded and received a new front page. Please come by for a
visit. We have also added the subtitle "The Homepage for Taiwan's
History, Present and Future" to reflect our determination that:
- Taiwan needs to discover its own History and identity,
as opposed to the China-oriented history which has been forced on the
Taiwanese by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists. Our History pages present
the history of the island from a Taiwanese perspective.
- Present developments which have an impact on Taiwan
or its place or role in the international community need to be presented
from the Taiwanese perspective. On our "News and Current Events"
pages we give brief commentaries, as seen through Taiwanese eyes.
- The Future of Taiwan is our all-encompassing
concern. Through our pages we want to emphasize our pride to be
Taiwanese, and our determination to have our nation recognized as a
free, democratic and independent country.
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Copyright © 1997 Taiwan Communiqué