Taiwan Communiqué No. 86, June 1999

Report from Washington

The Taiwan Security Enhancement Act

On 18 May 1999, a bi-partisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-TX), Christopher Cox (R-CA), Peter Deutsch (D-FL), Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced H.R-1838.

It is the House-version of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on 24 March 1999 by Senators Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and Jesse Helms (R-NC). The Act is a major piece of legislation, which proposes a number of specific measures to safeguard Taiwan's security against any military threat by China.

It emphasizes that Taiwan has undergone a major political transformation, and states that Taiwan today is a true multi-party democracy. It also emphasizes that the US has not adopted any formal position as to the ultimate status of Taiwan, other than to state that this status must be decided by peaceful means. It also states that the determination of the ultimate status must have the express consent of the people of Taiwan.

The Act specifies a broad array of defensive articles, which should be authorized for sale to Taiwan, including missile defense systems, satellite early warning data, diesel-powered submarines, naval anti-missile systems including Aegis destroyers, and advanced air-to-air missiles.

It also authorizes an increase of staff at the American Institute in Taiwan, specifically for military liaison purposes, and requires the Administration to report to Congress annually on requests of defense equipment from Taiwan and to justify any rejections.

The Act also provides for increased military exchanges and communication between US and Taiwan military at all levels, and for joint training exercises.

Taiwan into the World Health Organization

During the past months, further efforts were made in the campaign to get Taiwan represented in the World Health Organization. Prominent in this campaign was U.S. Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who last year introduced a Sense of Congress resolution in the House in support of Taiwan's membership in the WHO.

In October 1998, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the resolution, H.CON.RES. 334, by a vote of 418 to 0. Rep. Brown said that the deadly enterovirus epidemic that killed scores of Taiwan children last summer further illustrated the importance of Taiwan's membership in the WHO. "Denying Taiwan the knowledge and expertise of the World Health Organization is a fundamental violation of its human rights," he said.

In mid-May 1999, Congressman Brown introduced another resolution, H.R. 1794, which urges Taiwan's membership in the World Health Organization (WHO) and requires Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to report to the Congress, not later than 21 September 1999, on the efforts of the Secretary to fulfill the commitment made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to more actively support Taiwan's participation in international organizations, in particular the World Health Organization (WHO).

On 17 May 1999, the issue of Taiwan's membership in the WHO was brought up at a meeting of the WHO steering committee in Geneva by five nations, the Solomon Islands, Liberia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Senegal and Honduras. However, under pressure from the Beijing regime, the WHO steering committee did not adopt the proposal.

At the General Assembly of the WHO Congress itself, two other nations — Nicaragua and Dominica — questioned the steering committee's decision not to list Taiwan's application on the annual WHO congress' agenda.


President Lee's book: perpetuating confusion

Recently, President Lee Teng-hui published a new book. At this point we can only judge it from the news reports from Taiwan, and certainly would be interested in reading it.

On the one hand, the book seems to take a tough stand against China, which is good. Mr. Lee is quoted as saying: "Taiwan's democracy and its economic achievement were the sole efforts of Taiwanese," Lee writes. "The Chinese Communists have made no contributions, and of course have no right to make any claims on Taiwan." This is an improvement over his earlier claims that the 1996 elections were the first "democratic election of a president in China's 5000 years of history."

However, Mr. Lee becomes confusing when he calls on Chinese leaders to "give autonomy" to Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia and a separate northeast region. What is Taiwan doing in this list ? We though Mr. Lee had earlier emphasized that Taiwan has an "independent sovereignty." Isn't it a bit inconsistent to ask China to "give" it autonomy ???

It appears that Mr. Lee's book was "edited": the book was originally written in Japanese, and there are several discrepancies between the Japanese version and the Chinese version.

The most notably is that there is no reference of Taiwan as a part of China in the original Japanese version. It says only "As Taiwan establishes(d) its own identity, so could Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, and Manchuria ..." In the Chinese version this became "China should let Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Manchuria, etc. develop into seven autonomous regions ...."

Another important discrepancy is that a phrase in the original Japanese version "Many people in Taiwan vow for establishing a Republic of Taiwan ..." is changed into "Some people in Taiwan ..." Apparently, Mr. Lee's handlers censored the book before it was published in the Chinese-language version.

Mr. Lee is also confusing when he reportedly writes that "there is no need for Taiwan to declare independence from China. A formal declaration along with the adoption of a new name would endanger Taiwan's de facto independence".

Mr. Lee apparently fails to see that it is the Kuomintang's perpetuation of the claim to be the so-called "Republic of China" which is confusing and perpetuating Taiwan's international isolation and it lack of diplomatic recognition. Only when the government on Taiwan discards the outdated "ROC" title and presents itself internationally as "Taiwan" will it be possible to expand international recognition and work for membership in international organizations.

Mr. Carter in Taiwan

At the end of March 1999, former US president Jimmy Carter visited Taiwan. We briefly discuss his visit here, because he left with a number of misconceptions, which need to be cleared up. In a speech in Taipei, Mr. Carter defended his 1979 decision to de-recognize the Kuomintang regime, and said that it had contributed to the development of democracy in Taiwan. Mr. Carter also claimed credit for writing the Taiwan Relations Act, which was passed by Congress in April 1979. It is generally known that Congress wrote the TRA after it received a vague and inadequate draft from the Carter Administration.

Taiwan Communiqué comment: while democratization in Taiwan indeed started in the early 1980s, there is no causal link between Mr. Carter's de-recognition and the birth of democracy on the island. Democratization was primarily due to the persistent efforts of the people in the "tangwai" (outside-the-party) movement, the predecessor of the present-day DPP.

Democratization in Taiwan was aided to a considerable extent by the tireless efforts of four members of the US Congress and their staff: Senators Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressmen Jim Leach (R-IA) and Stephen Solarz (D-NY). If Mr. Carter wishes to give credit to anyone on the American side, these are the people who should be recognized.

Going back to the de-recognition decision: it could be argued that Mr. Carter's decision to recognize the Beijing's PRC regime instead of the Kuomintang's ROC regime may have solved a short-term problem in the late 1970s, but sowed the seeds for a much more difficult long-term problem in the late 1990s: how to bring about recognition of a new and democratic Taiwan.

Perhaps Mr. Carter should have held out for dual recognition, and should have brought stronger pressure to bear on the Kuomintang authorities to respect the basic principles of human rights and democracy. In the late 1970s, there were still thousands of political prisoners in Taiwan, but there was nary a word from the Carter Administration.

We thus suggest that we might have had even earlier democratization in Taiwan, and we might have had dual recognition with Taiwan and China, and a peaceful coexistence between those two nations, instead of the coming conflict with China (apologies to Messrs. Bernstein and Munro).

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