Taiwan Communiqué No. 81, June 1998

Report from Washington

Senate hearing on Taiwan Relations

On 14 May 1998, at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two testimonies were presented on U.S. relations with China and Taiwan.

Mr. Stanley Roth, the State Department official responsible for East Asian and Pacific affairs tried to assure the U.S. Senate that Taiwan's interests will not be sacrificed during the upcoming visit of US President Clinton to China.

However, the Administration's policy was criticized by Prof. Arthur Waldron, who is Lauder Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, and serves a Director of Asian Studies at the Washington-DC based American Enterprise Institute.

Professor Waldron found the Administration's policy towards East Asia fundamentally flawed, because it is staking too much on a potentially-unstable China, while neglecting states that share common political and economic values, such as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

Professor Waldron pointed out that the "engagement" policy of the Clinton Administration lacked the necessary second component, "deterrence": the willingness to counter Chinese threats, support allies, and brave Beijing's displeasure — which "..is often expressed with the extravagant rhetoric of calculated over-reaction."

Professor Waldron also criticized the tendency of some in the Clinton Administration "...to sign chits on Taiwan's future as a way of appeasing China today." He urged Mr. Clinton to refuse to incorporate the "three noes" in any officials U.S. statement, and urged the Administration to improve its relations with a democratic Taiwan.

The full text of Prof. Wadron's testimony can be found on the Taiwan, Ilha Formosa website at http://www.taiwandc.org

Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth said he wanted to "take this opportunity to categorically deny that progress at the summit will be achieved at Taiwan's expense." Despite widespread rumors to the contrary, he said: "There will be no `fourth communiqué' regarding (US) arms sales to Taiwan."

Roth also said that the US position on Taiwan remains unchanged. "We remain committed to our relationship with Taiwan in accordance with the three US-PRC joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, and continue to support the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue," he said.

In an effort to justify the administration's engagement with mainland China, the assistant secretary said that Washington's efforts to improve relations with Beijing are intended "to strengthen peace and stability in East Asia and in that sense will benefit the region as a whole, including Taiwan."

Mr. Roth stated that the Administration's policy was to have a "strong, stable, secure and open China", but forgot to mention "democracy" as an expressed goal of the Clinton Administration.

Hearing in the House: US reassures Taiwan

On Wednesday, 20 May 1998, at a hearing before the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Asian-Pacific Affairs, Clinton Administration officials also attempted to assure Congress that the United States attaches great importance to its commitment to preserving Taiwan's security.

Testimony was given by former U.S. Ambassadors Jim Lilley and Nat Bellocchi, and by former U.S. Administration official Douglas Paal. Mr. Bellocchi urged the Congress and the Administration to provide greater encouragement to Taiwan by making the "six assurances" to Taiwan a matter of public record through a statement from the Administration or through legislation.

Mr. Bellocchi also suggested that the U.S. should establish a policy that the U.S. supports Taiwan's participation in international organizations "...to which it can make a clear contribution", and that the U.S. should have more realistic opportunities for dialogue with Taiwan, including at senior levels. The full text of Mr. Bellocchi's statement can be found on the Taiwan, Ilha Formosa website at http://www.taiwandc.org

Both Susan Shirk, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant secretary of defense, stressed at the hearing that the US won't engage mainland China at the expense of Taiwan.

They also reaffirmed that no agreements unfavorable or harmful to Taiwan will be signed during a summit meeting between US President Bill Clinton and his mainland Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, scheduled for late June in Beijing.

Shirk told the Asia-Pacific subcommittee of the House Committee on International Relations that the US has consistently insisted that issues or disputes between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait be resolved strictly by peaceful means.

She further said the US will continue fulfilling its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) concerning Taiwan's security and sales of defensive arms to the island. The TRA, the 1979 US law regulating Washington-Taiwan relations in the absence of official ties, requires the US to furnish Taiwan with adequate defensive arms to safeguard its security.

Shirk said she is convinced that the US has created a favorable climate for cross-strait rapprochement and reconciliation by continuously implementing the above-mentioned policies. While reinforcing engagements with both Taipei and Beijing, Shirk said, the US will continue encouraging them to embark on regular dialogue. By so doing, she added, the three parties and the entire Asia-Pacific region will benefit.

Shirk went on to say that the US has decided to increase engagements with Beijing in hopes that mainland China will remain stable, abide by international norms and cooperate with the US in establishing a regional security mechanism and international order. In the process, Shirk said, the US will never sacrifice Taiwan's interests. "There will not be a fourth joint communiqué. Our relations with Taiwan will not be tampered or sacrificed at all."

Speaking on the same occasion, Campbell said it is important for the US to reassure Taiwan that Washington will not improve ties with Beijing at the expense of Taipei. He said the US must admit that its previous efforts to develop ties with Beijing once hurt Taiwan.

Campbell also stressed the importance that the US has attached to its security commitment to Taiwan. He said that Pentagon considers the obligations to furnish Taiwan with sufficient defensive arms an integral part of the US Asia-Pacific policy.

Senators write Clinton a letter

On 21 May 1998, twelve prominent members of the United States Senate urged President Clinton to resist Chinese pressure to reduce America's commitment to Taiwan's security and to call on China to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

In the letter to the president, drafted by Senator Frank Murkowski R-Alaska and signed by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., among others, the Senators noted that China is often eager to persuade the United States "to compromise our support for Taiwan and its democracy."

Specifically, the letter urged that: The President call on Beijing to renounce the use of force and the threat of it against Taiwan. The U.S. neither alter its policy of selling defensive arms to Taiwan nor promise to consult Beijing before future transfers. The President not participate in a new Beijing-Washington joint statement on Taiwan - what is often called the "Fourth Communiqué." And that the Taiwan Relations Act be left intact.

In addition to Murkowski, Lott and Daschle, other signers of the letter include Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms, R.-S.C. Gordon Smith, R.-Ore. Craig Thomas, R.-Wyo., chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee Robert Torricelli, D.-N.J., Chuck Hagel, R.-Neb., Larry Craig, R.-Idaho, Tim Johnson, D.-S.D., Connie Mack, R.-Fla., and Alfonse D'Amato, R.-N.Y.

The text of the letter follows here:

Washington, May 21, 1998

Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare for your summit with the leaders of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, we thought it appropriate to share with you our thoughts regarding U.S. relations with the people and the government of Taiwan.

We believe Taiwan has made extraordinary progress in recent years as that nation has moved to establish a vibrant democracy with free elections, free press, and improved trading practices.

We believe the American people are united in their support for freedom and democracy on Taiwan. Time and again, Congress has made clear our commitment to Taiwan, beginning with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, and through many resolutions and bills since then.

Although we do not know what will be on the summit agenda, we do know that the PRC is often eager to try and persuade the United States to compromise our support for Taiwan and its democracy.

Mr. President, we urge you to oppose any efforts at the summit by the PRC leadership to diminish American support for Taiwan. We believe it is important for the United States to make clear at the summit that while the U.S. supports a peaceful dialogue between Taipei and Beijing, the U.S. has committed not to pressure Taiwan on this issue and to not play any mediation role.

You should reiterate statements made recently by members of your administration calling on the PRC to renounce the use of force or the threat of force against Taiwan. Further, we urge you to reject any plans for a "Fourth Communiqué" on issues related to Taiwan to not weaken our defensive arms sales commitment to Taiwan (either by agreeing to set an end date or by agreeing to hold prior consultations with the PRC) to not make any commitment to limit future visits by the elected representatives of Taiwan to not agree to revise the Taiwan Relations Act and to not alter the U.S. position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.

We in Congress are prepared to reiterate the commitment of the American people to freedom and democracy for the people and government of Taiwan. We look forward to your reassurance on these issues in advance of the summit.


WHO-bid rejected

On 11 May 1998, Taiwan's bid to join the UN-affiliated world body as an observer was rejected at the third plenary meeting of the WHO's general assembly opening on 11 May 1998. Four of Taiwan's diplomatic allies — The Gambia, Grenada, Nicaragua and Senegal — raised a proposal on behalf of 15 other nations, demanding that the WHO allow Taiwan to enter and asked that the proposal be put on the annual gathering's agenda.

The health ministers of Chad, Gambia and Nicaragua also spoke out in the meeting to support Taiwan's bid to join the WHO, stating that the island should not be excluded from the international organization since public health problems are not a political issue. The basic human rights of the 21 million people of Taiwan should be respected and it is unfair to isolate Taiwan, a constructive member of the international community, they noted.

However, the proposal was turned down by Bahrain Health Minister F.R. Mousawi, who chaired the meeting, after representatives from Communist China and Pakistan voiced opposition.

U.S. Congressmen immediately voiced strong disapproval of the move: Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown — who had initiated Congressional action in favor of Taiwan's WHO membership — wrote in a letter to US Secretary Donna Shahala: "It is very disappointing to learn that in the past few days the PRC has effectively torpedoed any consideration of this important issue by the assembly...."

Such bullying is unacceptable, and the U.S. must play a more assertive role in promoting Taiwan's participation in international organizations. This support would be entirely consistent with the spirit of the "Taiwan Policy Review" conducted by the State Department in 1994."

A few days earlier, on 7 May 1998, several dozen US congressmen had jointly urged US Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala to back Taiwan's bid to enter the World Health Organization (WHO). The request was initiated by Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

The 52 members of the House of Representatives said in the letter that a a resolution providing for Taiwan's future participation in the WHO is expected to be placed before the Assembly for a vote in the May 11-20 conference, and urged Shalala, head of the American delegation to the meeting, to lend her firm support to the proposal and declare the US stand on supporting Taiwan's efforts to become a part of the organization.

It explained that according to the WHO's organic rules, every nation in the world has the right to join the organization. Being a country populated by 21 million people, Taiwan's status obviously meets the regulations, but the country is still being excluded from the organization, the letter said.

The letter also described Taiwan's distinguished achievements in health matters, including the fact that people on the island enjoy a longer average lifespan than other Asian peoples, that Taiwan has a low mortality rate among pregnant women and babies, diseases such as smallpox, malaria and bubonic plague have been eradicated there, and that Taiwan is listed as the first Asian country to have eliminated the virus which causes polio, as well as being the first country in world to provide free vaccination for children against hepatitis-B.

The letter said that these achievements prove that Taiwan is qualified to enter the WHO and make its contribution to the organization founded with the goal of seeking the highest possible level of human health around the world.

However, in the current circumstances, not only is Taiwan unable to contribute its abundant health resources to the promotion of the WHO goal, hundreds of thousands of children in Taiwan also cannot profit from the most modern medical knowledge and expertise provided by the WHO, the letter said.

The joint letter was promoted by the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), which revealed that a number of Taiwan's allies, including Nicaragua, Grenada, the Gambia and Senegal, have requested the WHO's policymaking body to list Taiwan's application for observer status in the international organization on the agenda of this year's conference. Discussions on the proposal are expected to be held, a FAPA spokesman said.

A similar application was filed by the Taiwan health authorities last year, but the request was voted down, due to pressure from Beijing.

New book about "February 28th" published

As was announced in Taiwan Communiqué no. 79, we are publishing a new book about the events surrounding "February 28th". It is written by Mr. Allan J. Shackleton from New Zealand, who served as Industrial Rehabilitation Officer with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Taiwan in 1947.

After World War II had ended, Mr. Shackleton - who had served as a young soldier in the First World War, and fought in Northern France against the Germans - volunteered to serve as an officer in UNRRA.

Not long after he arrived on the island, the "February 28th Incident" happened, followed by large-scale executions of Formosans at the hands of Chinese Nationalist troops brought over by Chiang Kai-shek from the mainland.

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Allan Shackleton (right) during his travels through Taiwan in 1947

During this period, Mr. Shackleton traveled widely through the island, and was a first-hand observer of the brutality and repression. He was so appalled at what he had seen that after his return to New Zealand in December 1947, he spent many weeks writing a manuscript titled "Formosa Calling."

Although Mr. Shackleton's manuscript was referred to by George Kerr in his monumental work "Formosa Betrayed", it was never published .... until now. Mr. Shackleton passed away in New Zealand in 1984 at the age of 87.

The book can be ordered by sending US$ 15.— (includes postage in the US, for other countries add US$ 3.— for airmail postage) to our address:

Taiwan Communiqué P.O. Box 15182, Chevy Chase, MD 20825 USA

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