In mid-February 1998, two members of the US House of Representatives, Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), introduced a Resolution into the House stating that "... Taiwan and its 21 million people should be represented in the World Health Organization."
The move coincides with the announcement in Geneva that Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland is to be the new Director General of the world health body. She is succeeding Hiroshi Nakajima from Japan, who was under increasing criticism for his abysmal leadership at the world organization.
Mrs. Brundtland is expected to restore credibility to the WHO, and is expected to be more evenhanded when Taiwan's membership comes up in the organization's annual meeting in May 1998. In last year's meeting, Mr. Nakajima played a sordid role by rejecting Taiwan's request for observer status even before it came on the agenda.
To reinforce the upcoming Taiwanese request to be included in the WHO, the President of the US-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), Professor Chen Wen-yen, wrote Mrs. Brundtland a letter, in which he stated:
On 1 January 1998, South Africa dropped its diplomatic ties with the Kuomintang authorities and establishing official relations with the PRC. The move follows the announcement by South African president Nelson Mandela on 28 November 1996 that he would switch relations at the end of 1997.
For some time after his May 1994 election as President of South Africa, Mr. Mandela had attempted to pursue a "dual recognition" policy of recognizing both the Kuomintang's "Republic of China" and the Communist "People's Republic of China." However, this "two-China" policy was unacceptable to the Beijing regime, and finally Mr. Mandela gave in and decided to switch recognition.
In the context of establishing relations, South Africa and the PRC, on 30 December 1997 signed an accord, in which inter alia South Africa "recognizes" China's position that Taiwan is part of China.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: We regret that South Africa let itself be tricked like this by the Chinese: the PRC never had any sovereignty over Taiwan, and any attempt to claim such sovereignty amounts to Chinese neo-Colonialism. We believe that Mr. Mandela would be one of the first to voice his opposition to such a policy.
It is also ironic that South Africa, which now has majority rule and is headed by a former political prisoner, has dropped an increasingly democratic Taiwan in favor of a repressive and totalitarian China, which still imprisons political dissenters.
While it is of course highly regrettable that South Africa is giving in to pressure by a dictatorial Communist regime, the break in relations is also due to the Kuomintang's stubborn clinging to its "Republic of China" title, and its outdated insistence to be part of the so-called "One China."
The Kuomintang would be wise to drop its anachronistic policies, and move towards a more realistic "One China, One Taiwan" policy, which recognizes the reality that Taiwan and China are two separate nations, which can live in peaceful coexistence next to eachother.
During the month of January 1998, several prominent members of the overseas Taiwanese community passed away.
In Tokyo, Dr. Kuo Jung-chi, the founding president of the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations (WFTA), passed away on January 5, 1998 at the age of 77. Dr. Kuo will be remembered as one of the fathers of Taiwanese independence movement, because of his strong belief in, and his dedication to the movement. A medical doctor by training, he emigrated to Japan from Taiwan in 1950s during the Kuomintang's "White Terror" campaign. He started a pharmaceutical company, and became a successful businessman. In the 1970s he helped set up the WFTA, the umbrella organization for the overseas Taiwanese community. He donated generously and helped fund the activities of different organizations in Taiwan and overseas.
Dr. Lee Ya-yen from Houston, Texas passed away in Taipei on January 12, 1998 at the age of 53. Dr. Lee was a prominent neuro-radiologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas in Houston, Texas. He was a prominent member in the Taiwanese community in the United States. In 1992 he served as president of the North American Taiwanese Professors Association (NATPA), and also served as president of Taiwanese Association in Houston, where he was instrumental in the construction of the Taiwan cultural center. Dr. Lee is survived by his wife Gin-ru, daughters Jennifer and Angeline and son Frederick.
Dr. Chen Yi-shung, from Potomac, Maryland passed away in Taiwan on 3 January 1998, at the age of 59. Dr. Chen received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Washington, and was working at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He was a devout Christian and was the founder of Taiwanese Evangelical Church in Washington DC. He was also an active member of the Taiwanese community in the greater Washington area and served as board member of the local Taiwanese Association. Dr. Chen was a good friend and strong supporter of Taiwan Communiqué. He and his wife Tina and several close friends from the church are the devoted volunteers who always help with the sorting of Taiwan Communiqué in preparation for mailing. He is survived by his wife Tina, daughter Angela and son Joseph.
The fourth person who we remember, is Nancy Lee, wife of Professor Wylie Lee in Laguna Hills, California. Since the mid-1970s Nancy and her husband have been steadfast members of the overseas Taiwanese community, first in Seattle where they helped set up Taiwan Communiqué and later when they moved to California.
"In July 1981, Wen-chen Chen was 31 years old and was about to move up from assistant professor to associate professor in the Statistics Department at Carnegie Mellon University. By all accounts he was a quiet and serious man occupied by scholarly pursuits. He was also a husband, the father of a one-year-old son, and an avid basketball and softball player."
Thus starts an article titled "His death in Taiwan triggered political change" by editor Jim Davidson in the Winter 1997 issue of Focus, the Carnegie Mellon faculty newspaper. It commemorates professor Chen, an active member of the Taiwanese overseas democratic movement, who was found dead in Taiwan, after he had been interrogated by the Kuomintang's secret police, the fearsome Taiwan Garrison Command.
The case aroused anger in the US academic and overseas Taiwanese communities, and awoke the US government and Congress to the repressive nature of the Kuomintang's regime, which had maintained martial law on the island since 1948.
|Prof. Chen, his wife, and infant son shortly before his fateful trip to Taiwan.|
While the case did indeed help accelerate the process of political change in Taiwan, the Kuomintang authorities never solved the case: they stonewalled and implied that Prof. Chen might have fallen off the building or committed suicide. An eminent Pittsburgh forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, traveled to Taiwan at the request of Chen's family, and after an autopsy concluded that Prof. Chen had been murdered.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: It would be appropriate if the Kuomintang authorities would reopen the case of Professor Chen and find those responsible for his death. Uncovering the truth about the case is an essential element in achieving a fair and just society in Taiwan, and healing the wounds of the past.
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