Young Taiwan supporter in front of the White House
On Thursday, 18 June 1998, nearly eight hundred Taiwanese Americans from across the country converged on Washington, D.C. urging Mr. Clinton not to betray but to stand up for Taiwan during his visit to Beijing at the end of June 1998. The overall theme of the days was "Safeguard Taiwan' sovereignty, declare Taiwan independence."
They first gathered at the East side of the Capitol building, where a bi-partisan group of a dozen members of Congress addressed the assembled crowd, expressing their support for a free, democratic, and independent Taiwan, and the island's membership in international organizations, such as the United Nations, the WHO, and the WTO.
They were welcomed by Professor Chen Wen-yen, President of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), who said in his statement, that Taiwanese and Taiwanese-Americans wanted to send a signal to President Clinton and to both Houses of Congress that during President Clinton's visit to Beijing, the US should not sacrifice the welfare and future of the 21.7 million people of Taiwan.
In his remarks, keynote speaker Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) vowed Congress' unwavering support for democracy in Taiwan and the right of self-determination of the people of Taiwan. He also stated that Taiwan should join the United Nations, the World Bank, and other international organizations. The text of Senator Torricelli's speech:
Senator Torricelli (D-NJ):
Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) expressed his intent to bring his resolution in support of World Health Organization membership for Taiwan to the floor of the House. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the international community must not isolate Taiwan, and that the improvement of U.S.-China relations must never take place at the expense of the people of Taiwan or Taiwan's future as a free, democratic and independent nation.
Congresswoman Mary Bono (R-CA) expressed her strong support for Taiwan's full and equal membership in the international community, and urged Mr. Clinton not to sell out Taiwan. Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) stated: "We insist that President Clinton call on the Chinese government to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. We insist that he call on China to stop blocking Taiwan's participation in international organizations. The future of Taiwan should be determined by the people of Taiwan, not by the PRC."
Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) spoke eloquently of U.S. relations with Taiwan as a "test of our American national integrity." he said: "There will be a free and independent Taiwan. There will be diplomatic relations between the U.S. and a free and independent Taiwan. We stand for Taiwan to be present in the United Nations as a free and independent nation." Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) said: "Our President needs to get the message that we will not sell out Taiwan to the PRC. We will protect Taiwan, and we will not allow Chinese aggression."
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) emphasized that U.S. foreign policy should be based on American values and not be dictated by China. He said: "When President Clinton goes to Beijing, his message should be clear: Hands off Taiwan." Other speakers included Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY), Dana Rorabacher (R-CA), Peter Deutsch (D-FL), and Rob Portman (R-OH).
The crowd then wound its way around the Capitol Building to Constitution Avenue, and from there along Pennsylvania Avenue to Lafayette Park in front of the White House. Along the way, they chanted "One Taiwan, One China", "China, hands off Taiwan", "Stand up for Taiwan", "Recognize Taiwan, Taiwan Independence", and "Don't sell out Taiwan."
In front of the White House, more speeches were held: leading members of
the Taiwanese-American community spoke, as well as five members of the
Legislative Yuan in Taiwan, who had come over to Washington to express
their concern to the Clinton Administration and to Congress about China's
continuing threats and intimidation against Taiwan and its attempts to
isolate Taiwan from the international community.
Thousands of Taiwan independence advocates took part in a demonstration on Saturday, 27 June 1998, demanding that the government hold a referendum on December 5th to allow voters to determine the future of the island. The event was organized by about 20 pro-independence groups such as the Taiwan Independence Party (TAIP) and Association of Taiwan Professors.
Organizers said they wanted to express concern over the possible effects on Taiwan of the summit meeting between US President Bill Clinton and mainland Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and highlight the right of Taiwan citizens to self-determination.
Demonstrators gathered in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at 3:30 p.m., each wearing orange bands on their heads. They also carried banners reading: "One Taiwan, One China" or "Protecting Taiwan, Founding A New Country". Lee Chen-yuan, TAIP honorary chairman and leader of the demonstration, said Clinton was doing quite well in the summit. He pointed out that in the news conference following the meeting between the two leaders, Clinton did not say Taiwan is a part of mainland China. Lee said that the so-called "Taiwan issue" cannot be tackled by only the US and the mainland. Through self-determination by Taiwan people and peaceful pressure from the international community can the dispute between the mainland and Taiwan be peacefully solved, he said.
Professor Kao Cheng-yen at the National Taiwan University said the results of the Clinton-Jiang meeting showed that US policy toward China has not changed much. He said at a time when the Kuomintang still seeks unification, the people of Taiwan demand the right to decide if they want to establish a new country.
Legislator Yeh Chu-lan of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said no matter what the results of the Clinton-Jiang meeting are, it would not affect the determination of the people of Taiwan to declare their own country. She expressed hope that the demonstration will let the international community know the wishes of the people of Taiwan.
Demonstrators marched to the American Institute in Taiwan, the American de facto embassy to Taiwan. A declaration was read in front of the institute, stressing that the future of Taiwan should be determined by its 21 million residents. The statement said although the group feels Clinton's proposal that "the Taiwan issue should be peacefully solved" is in line with the common interest of maintaining international peace and development, the island's sovereignty and the people's dignity should be respected. It urged the government to immediately institute a referendum law to allow people to vote on the independence issue on 5 December 1998, a date that coincides with legislative elections.
Back to: Table of Contents
Copyright © 1998 Taiwan Communiqué