Taiwan Communiqué No. 92, July 2000

Report from Washington

Taiwan an "intelligence threat"?

On 24 May 2000, the Washington Times published an article showing that Taiwan was included on a FBI National Security List of thirteen countries that were designated as a "national security threat" to the USA. While the other twelve countries were all Communist-led, such as China, Cuba and North Korea or of the extremist type such as Iraq, Iran and Lybia, Taiwan was the only democratic, pro-Western nation.

Reportedly, the document containing the list was dated March 8, 1999 — more than a year ago – and may have been related to the case of nuclear spying by Mr. Lee Wen-ho at Los Alamos. Still, its publication just a few days after the inauguration of the first democratically-elected opposition President in Taiwan’s history raised deep concerns in Congress, in Taiwan and among Taiwanese-Americans.

On 5 June 2000, US Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno asking her why Taiwan was included in this list, and urging her to review the necessity of keeping Taiwan on this list.

Mr. Brown said: "As a member of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, I am concerned about Taiwan’s international position and participation. I am troubled that Taiwan is on this list, especially since there are other countries known to spy on the US not listed."

Mr. Brown wrote in his letter that current and former US intelligence officials have said that the inclusion of Taiwan on this list appears based on the Administration’s pro-Beijing policies that seek to put Taiwan in the same threat category as China.

In Taiwan, the newly-established DPP government issued a statement calling the Washington list "surprising and regrettable", and demanded that the Clinton Administration explain the decision. Foreign minister Tien Hung-mao said: "Taiwan is a democratic country, we are different from the other states listed" and stated it was unthinkable for Taiwan to engage in the kind of activities covered by the FBI list.

Susan Shirk still doesn't get it

In the beginning of June 2000, Susan Shirk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, was on her way out of her State Department position and was returning to academia.

She decided to make a number of statements, urging Beijing to be more flexible regarding Taiwan. However, in the process, she still displayed a significant bias against Taiwan, and showed that she still doesn’t understand that the United States should side with a democracy instead of leaning towards China's dictatorship.

In a 5 June 2000 interview with the Voice of America, she had this to say: "The United States would welcome any arrangement between the two sides, between the PRC and Taiwan that the people of the two sides can agree upon. If that is reunification, we would enthusiastically welcome it. The key is that it can’t be imposed by one side on the other. It can’t be done through force or intimidation. It has to be freely and voluntarily agreed to by both sides. So you may wonder why don’t we say that the United States supports reunification. We don’t oppose reunification, but we would endorse any resolution of the issues that the two sides can agree upon."

At a 8 June 2000 meeting with the US chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, she urged Beijing to loosen up on its opposition to Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, but in the next breath said "that do not require statehood."

Taiwan Communiqué comment: While perhaps well-intended, these statements display a significant bias towards China. If Mrs. Shirk says that if the two sides agree on unification, the US would enthusiastically welcome it, she should also state that if the two sides agree on independence, then the US should enthusiastically welcome it. If she says, we don’t oppose reunification, then she should also state, we don’t oppose independence.

The statement on participation in international organizations "that require statehood" of course represents the policy of the Clinton White House, but clings to the fiction that Taiwan is not a state. If the United States wishes to play a useful role in the process of reconciliation, then it should discard such artificial figleaves, and start supporting Taiwan’s role in the international community as a full and equal member.

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