Taiwan Communiqué No. 77, September 1997

Report from Washington

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There are at present a number of resolutions in the United States Senate and House of Representatives which are related to Taiwan. Several of these support Taiwan's membership in international organizations, such as the United Nations, the WTO, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

One Senate Bill (S.1083), titled the "US-PRC National Security and Freedom Protection Act of 1997" is an omnibus bill, which was introduced in July after the Senate agreed to the one-year MFN-status extension for China. It contains several provisions important to Taiwan: a) conduct of a joint architecture study of the requirements for the establishment and operation of a theater ballistic missile defense for Taiwan, b) Taiwan's admission to WTO, and c) measures designed to get China to adhere to human rights.

The most important ones, however, are H. CON. RES. 100 - A concurrent resolution relating to the future status of Taiwan, introduced by Rep. Deutsch (D-FL), and a similar Senate resolution (S. CON. RES. 114) introduced by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ). Also significant is H. CON. RES. 132 - A concur rent resolution relating to Taiwan's participation in the United Nations, introduced by Congressmen Solomon (R-NY) and Tom Lantos (D-CA).

US Senate Resolution: Taiwan free and democratic country

On Friday, 1 August 1997, U.S. Senators Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and Sam D. Brownback (R-KS) introduced a Resolution in the U.S. Senate in support of Taiwan as a free and democratic country. We urge our readers to write their Senators to endorse and cosponsor this Resolution.

S. RES. 114 Future Status of Taiwan as a free and democratic country

In the United States Senate, July 31st, 1997 Mr. TORRICELLI (for himself and Mr. BROWNBACK) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Expressing the sense of the Senate that the transfer of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China does not alter the current or future status of Taiwan as a free and democratic country.

Whereas Hong Kong was acquired by the British in 1898 and leased from China for 99 years;

Whereas the treaty through which the Hong Kong territory was leased from China expires on July 1, 1997, at which time Hong Kong reverted to China;

Whereas no treaties exist between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan which determine the future status of Taiwan and, unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan has been de facto independent since 1949;

Whereas the People's Republic of China attempts to apply to Taiwan the formula commonly known as "one country, two systems" in an effort to annex Taiwan to China;

Whereas the People's Republic of China has refused to renounce the use of force against Taiwan, and held military exercises in the Taiwan Strait in March 1996 in an attempt to intimidate the people of Taiwan in their first presidential elections; and

Whereas the Taiwan Relations Act states that "[i]t is the policy of the United States to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States":

Now, therefore, be it Resolved That it is the sense of the Senate that

  1. the transfer of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China does not alter the current and future status of Taiwan;
  2. the future of Taiwan should be determined by peaceful means through a democratic process in accordance with the principle of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations; and
  3. the United States should assist in the defense of Taiwan in case of threats or military attack by the People's Republic of China against Taiwan.

House Resolution: "Taiwan into the UN"

On Tuesday, 29 July 1997, U.S. Congressmen Solomon (R-NY) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) introduced a Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of Taiwan's membership in the United Nations. Below is the text of the most important considerations as well as the operative part of the resolution.

H. CON. RES. 132: Taiwan's participation in the United Nations

Mr. SOLOMON (for himself and Mr. LANTOS) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations

Whereas Taiwan has the 19th largest gross national product in the world, a strong and vibrant economy, and one of the largest foreign exchange reserves of any nation;

Whereas Taiwan has dramatically improved its record on human rights and routinely holds free and fair elections in a multiparty system, as evidenced most recently by the March 1996 presidential election and the December 1995 parliamentary elections;

Whereas the 21 million people in Taiwan have not been represented in the United Nations since 1971 and their human rights as citizens of the world have therefore been severely abridged;

Whereas Taiwan has in recent years repeatedly expressed its strong desire to participate in the United Nations;

Whereas Taiwan has much to contribute to the work and funding of the United Nations;

Whereas Taiwan has demonstrated its commitment to the world community by responding to international disasters and crises such as environmental destruction in the Persian Gulf and famine in Rwanda by providing financial donations, medical assistance, and other forms of aid;

Whereas the world community has reacted positively to Taiwan's desire for international participation, as shown by Taiwan's continued membership in the Asian Development Bank, the admission of Taiwan into the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group as a full member, and the accession of Taiwan as an observer at the World Trade Organization as the first step toward becoming a contracting party to that organization;

Whereas the United States has supported Taiwan's participation in these bodies and indicated, in its policy review of September 1994, a stronger and more active policy of support for Taiwan's participation in other international organizations;

Whereas in 1996 the European Parliament passed, and the United States House of Representatives endorsed, a resolution urging support for Taiwan's attempts to secure better representation in international organizations;

Whereas Taiwan has repeatedly stated that its participation in international organizations is one of parallel representation without prejudice to the current status of Mainland China in the international community and does not represent a challenge to that status; and

Whereas the decision of the United States to establish diplomatic relations with Mainland China, as expressed in the Taiwan Relations Act (Public Law 96-8), is based `upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means';

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

  1. Taiwan deserves full participation, including a seat, in the United Nations and its related agencies; and
  2. the Government of the United States should immediately encourage the United Nations to take action by considering the unique situation of Taiwan in the international community and adopting a comprehensive solution to accommodate Taiwan in the United Nations and its related agencies.


Into the UN ... but under what name ?

In mid-July 1997, the Kuomintang authorities on Taiwan initiated the fifth annual bid to join the United Nations by having nine of its allies in the UN submit a motion asking the UN General Assembly to consider membership for the island. The four previous motions were rejected at the insistence of China, which holds a seat in the Security Council.

The motion requested the General Assembly to "...re-examine the inadequacy of Resolution 2758 and rescind it, in order to restore without delay to the 21.5 million people of the Republic of China on Taiwan the lawful right to participate in all activities within the U.N. system."

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Taiwan Communiqué comment: While we strongly support Taiwan's membership in the United Nations, the approach by the Kuomintang authorities is a dead-end street, because they still use the anachronistic "Republic of China" title, which represents a throwback to the Chinese Civil War.

In 1971, Resolution 2758 decided on which regime would represent China in the UN, the Chinese nationalists in Taipei or the Chinese Communists in Beijing. No decision was made who would represent Taiwan. According to the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty this was to be determined "...in accord with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations." Certainly in 1952 this meant independence.

An approach to UN membership will thus only succeed if Taiwan presents itself as a new and democratic nation. China may object for a while, but will eventually see that it is in its own interest to come to terms with a friendly neighbor instead of perpetuating an anachronistic Civil War.

Hong Kong: the morning after

When the handover of Hong Kong to China took place at the beginning of July 1997, it was accompanied by a large amount of hype and euphoria. Now comes the hangover. A brief overview:

* In mid-July 1997, the Hong Kong authorities announced that they would crack down on demonstrations that "...threaten national security." In China, the term national security is interpreted very broadly, and covers any expression of discontent.

For the time being, the Hong Kong interpretation seems to have a slightly narrower definition: the Hong Kong authorities specified that in particular promotion of Taiwan or Tibetan independence would fall under the new rule.

The new rule was immediately attacked in Hong Kong as restrictive of free speech. Paul Harris, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Human Rights Monitor said that the move amounted to a violation of free speech: "supporting Taiwan or Tibet is a political view, which people are entitled to express, provided they do so in a peaceful manner."

* A second matter of deep concern are the proposals for the elections of the future legislative council, which is to be elected in the Spring of 1998. The Council is to have 60 members, but the Beijing-installed administration of Tung Chee-hwa is now proposing that only 20 members of the Council are to be popularly elected. Ten would be named by a Beijing-appointed electoral college of course closely manipulated by Beijing and the remaining 30 to be picked by "functional constituencies."

These functional constituencies are not new to Hong Kong, but they had been broadened by Mr. Chris Patten to include some 2.7 million voters virtually amounting to universal suffrage. However, under the Tung proposals, the functional constituencies would be reduced back to some 180,000 corporate leaders, which are also subject to manipulation by Beijing.

Taiwan Communiqué comment: As was already made clear by Taiwan's leaders and the Taiwanese people on the occasion of the Hong Kong handover, the "One Country, Two systems" concept is rejected outright as a model for Taiwan. The recent developments make it all the more obvious that China has no intention of letting democracy bloom in Hong Kong. The chance is even less they would allow any democracy in Taiwan.

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