On 27 July 1999, a resolution was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, urging that the United States should recognize Taiwan's independence if the people of Taiwan opt for such status through a democratic mechanism. It also stated that the United States should immediately adopt a "One China, One Taiwan Policy" which reflects the present day reality that Taiwan and China are two separate nations.
House Resolution 166 was co-sponsored by a bi-partisan group of Representatives, including Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Steve Chabot (R-OH). In the operative part, it states:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of the Congress that
On Thursday, 22 July 1999, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to House Resolution 2415, the Embassy Security Act, which is part of the State Department Authorization process.
The amendment commends Taiwan for its tradition of democracy, and expresses the sense of the Congress that the President should publicly urge China to renounce the use of military force against Taiwan, and that the US should help defend Taiwan in case of threats or a military attack by China.
The Resolution was introduced by a bi-partisan group of Congressmen led by Representative Robert Andrews (D-NJ).
On Wednesday, 4 August 1999, a hearing was held in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (S. 693) introduced by Senators Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) at the end of March 1999.
Senator Helms said that the Act is aimed to ensure that Taiwan will have the essential self-defense capabilities, and to accomplish this he and Senator Torricelli had proposed to bolster the process for defense sales to Taiwan and help Taiwan achieve and maintain an adequate military readiness.
Several witnesses, including former U.S. ambassador Jim Lilley and former CIA Director James Woolsey spoke in favor of the legislation.
However, the legislation was opposed by the Clinton Administration. Both Stanley Roth, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs, and Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, voiced their opposition. The main argument seemed to be that the Administration is already providing Taiwan with sufficient arms, in accordance with the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: We wish we could trust the Clinton Administration. However, time and again over the past years, it has shown an increasing tilt towards China to the detriment of Taiwan. A truly balanced position would be one in which the U.S. would treat a democratic Taiwan at least as well as communist China.
Senator Joseph R. Biden (D-DE) took the position that the bill was not necessary, since the Administration " already has all the authority it needs under the TRA to sell such defensive weapons" to Taiwan. However, he warned the Administration to have closer consultations with Congress on weapon sales to Taiwan. He chided Mr. Roth, saying "You better get smart. The chairman (Jesse Helms) will get his way, unless you get smart." Mr. Biden added: "China should have no doubt that our commitment (to Taiwan's security) remains firm."
U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli, who did not attend the hearing, stressed in a separate written statement that bill S.693 will ensure that Taiwan's security needs are adequately met. Recent events make it necessary for the United States to continue its support for Taiwan, Torricelli indicated in his statement released on 6 August 1999.
He added: "The four principles of the Taiwan Relations Act have guided this relationship (between the US and Taiwan) by recognizing the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future through peaceful means, and affirming our commitment to support human rights in Taiwan. The TRA also commits us to oppose Taiwan's exclusion from membership in any international organizations, and sell defensive articles and services to Taiwan".
He stated: "The Taiwan Security Enhancement Act is designed to ensure Taiwan's ability to meet its defensive security needs. It authorizes, but does not mandate, the sale of theater missile defense equipment, satellite early warning data, and specific air and naval defense systems."
On 26 July 1999, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, attending the ASEAN meeting in Singapore, met with Communist Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan to discuss a range of issues.
One topic, which was reportedly discussed was the rising tension generated by the renewed Chinese threats against Taiwan, which followed President Lee Teng-hui's statements that the relations with China should be considered "state-to-state" relations.
When asked about the discussions on this topic, Mrs. Albright reportedly reiterated the U.S. commitment to "One China", direct dialogue between Taiwan and Communist China, and peaceful resolution of their dispute. She added that the explanations given by the Taiwan authorities "...thus far don't quite do it."
Taiwan Communiqué comment: We must suggest that thus far, Mrs. Albright doesn't quite seem to get it: with her reiteration of the outdated and anachronistic "One China" policy, Mrs. Albright is taking sides with a Communist dictatorship against a free, democratic, and independent Taiwan. In effect Mrs. Albright is saying that the Taiwanese people don't have the right to determine their own future.
To Taiwanese-Americans, saying that the "One China" policy has contributed to peace and stability in the region, is as outrageous as saying that Hitler's Third Reich helped bring about peace and stability in Europe in the 1930s.
To the contrary, the "One China" fiction has been a destabilizing time bomb under East Asia in the same way "Gross Deutschland" was under Europe in the 1930s. China's claims to Taiwan are about as legitimate as Hitler's designs for Czechoslovakia. Mrs. Albright should remember what the consequences were of Mr. Neville Chamberlain giving in to those claims.
On 13 August 1999, twelve of Taiwan's allies in Central America and Africa wrote to UN Secretary Kofi Annan, requesting that the United Nations discuss their proposal on Taiwan's membership in the UN during its 54th session which opens in the middle of September. This is the seventh consecutive year that Taiwan has taken action to join the world body through the help of friendly countries.
Accompanied with the proposal is an explanatory memorandum indicating that each side of the Taiwan Strait has been ruled by a distinct and separate government since 1949 as well as a draft resolution urging the UN establish a working group on the issue.
This year, the proposal was signed by Burkina Faso, Gambia, Swaziland, Liberia, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: While we wholeheartedly support Taiwan's membership in the United Nations, the proposal of the 12 Central American and African nations is still based on Taiwan's membership under the fallacious "Republic of China" name.
As long as the Taiwan authorities cling to this outdated title, it will be impossible for the island to join the UN, since it perpetuates the decades-old conflict about the "real" China. This issue was resolved in the 1970s, when most nations in the world recognized Beijing.
Taiwan should present itself as a free and democratic "Taiwan" and let the Chinese Civil War be distant history. Only then can Taiwan gain acceptance in the international community as a distinct and independent nation.
In January 1996 we pioneered our Taiwan, Ilha Formosa website. Over the past few years, it has grown into a major source of information for students, scholars, newsmedia and governments as well as parliaments.
The traffic to the site has grown to a level of some 70,000 hits per month, and we have attempted to make the site both accessible and comprehensive. With the increasing amount of information, this is not an easy task.
Within the next few weeks, we will give our front page a new facelift, and we hope this will make it even more attractive and accessible. Our basic goal remains to be a user-friendly source of accurate and up-to-date information about Taiwan. Visit us at: http://www.taiwandc.org
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