On 28 March 2001, the House International Relations Committee unanimously passed legislation (HR-428) mandating that the U.S. Secretary of State "initiate a United States plan to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan at the annual week-long summit of the World Health Assembly in May 2001 in Geneva, Switzerland," and "instruct the United States delegation to Geneva to implement such plan."
With a forceful bipartisan group of 93 co-sponsors, the bill introduced by Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) _ a liberal Democrat, who is a strong supporter of Taiwan presses the Bush Administration to put some teeth into the effort to obtain meaningful participation by Taiwan in international organizations.
The bill was originally introduced in early 2000, due to Congressional frustration with the Clinton State Department's unwillingness to implement the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review and with the department's totally insufficient report of 4 January 2000, which was supposed to list the Administration's efforts to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations, in particular the WHO.
At the 28 March 2001 hearing, Congressman Brown stated, "Taiwan deserves observer status in the World Health Assembly. It is the first step for us to fulfill the commitment we made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to support Taiwan's participation in the international organizations, such as the UN and the WHO."
Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) added, "Colin Powell has stated that there should be ways for Taiwan to participate without belonging to these international organizations. Many of our colleagues are disappointed that Taiwan is not a full member of the UN or other international organizations."
Asian Subcommittee chair Jim Leach (R-IA) declared, "The greatest issue of world health might be disease control. What WHO symbolizes is people are concerned about the control of disease. This resolution is very symbolic. It's a very modest resolution."
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) noted, "Today Taiwan is a prosperous democracy. This is a symbolic move but also a substantive move. We are thinking: WHO capability should be available for the people of Taiwan and we are thinking: Taiwans resources and technology that should be available for the rest of the world. I strongly recommend it.
Other members who spoke out in support of the bill included Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY).
Thirty-one Senators signed a letter earlier this month which called on President Bush to stand up and take the lead on Taiwans participation in the WHO as an observer during the next World Health Assembly in Geneva.
In Taiwan Communiqué issue no. 95, we briefly reported on the preparatory meeting for a major new overseas Taiwanese organization, the World Taiwanese Congress, which was held in the beginning of December 2000 in Alexandria, Virginia.
In mid-March 2001, the organizations met again in Taipei, Taiwan and formally established the new organization. At the opening ceremony, President Chen Shui-bian urged all participants to help him boost Taiwans international stature under the banner of dignity and security. Let all Taiwanese stand up and join forces in boosting the islands international stature.
He lauded WTC members for their unbending effort over the years to safeguard Taiwans interests, saying: Overseas Taiwanese have made important contributions to Taiwans democratic reform. He added: Whatever our backgrounds and wherever we are, lets strive hand-in-hand for the good of our common mother Taiwan.
The meeting was also attended by Tokyo-based Alice King, who had been in the news earlier in the month for coming to the defense of Japanese writer Yoshinori Kobayashi, whose comic book On Taiwan caused a heated debate in Taiwan. Ms. King openly referred to the ROC (which is still being kept as Taiwans official name) as extinct.
As Ms. King holds the position of National Policy Adviser to President Chen, the statement caused a heated outcry from pro-unificationist opposition members, who want to cling to the outdated ROC title.
On 18 March 2001, the first anniversary of the DPP victory in the 2000 presidential election, a large demonstration was held in Taipei, calling for support from Taiwanese people worldwide for President Chen Shui-bian and the establishment of the Republic of Taiwan. Cheering Say yes Taiwan, say no to China, some 5,000 advocates of Taiwan independence marched to the Presidential Office. Before the event started, some also declared their position by obtaining a Republic of Taiwan passport.
Carrying DPP flags and signboards reading support Taiwan independence, those who joined the march blamed the pro-unificationist opposition parties (the KMT, PFP, and New Party) for having caused chaos in Taiwans society by thinking only of their own parties interest. The march called for a joint effort by all Taiwanese people to strengthen the countrys resolve to resist Chinas threats and intimidation.
During the Taiwan Presidential election campaign of early 2000, several key persons in the then-ruling Kuomintang charged that former secretary-general James Soong had pocketed large sums of money by some accounts up to US$ 36 million in KMT Party funds and election campaign donations. Part of the funds apparently found its way to the United States, where Soongs family had purchase real estate. Part of the money some US$ 12 million -- was supposedly entrusted to Soong to take care of the family of the late President Chiang Ching-kuo -- a claim denied by family members. These funds were found in accounts of the Soong family in the Chung Hsing bank.
While the election campaign was going on, no formal charges were filed. After the 18 March 2000 election victory of President Chen Shui-bian and the loss of Mr. Soong and his Peoples First Party and Mr. Lien Chan of the KMT the Taipei District Prosecutors Office started to investigate the case, involving allegations of misappropriating KMT funds, forgery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion.
However, during the past three months, the case took several peculiar twists and turns: first, on 20 January 2001, the prosecutor in charge of the case decided not to indict Soong. This led to accusations of political favoritism on the part of the prosecutor, who was said to be a political supporter of Soong.
The Kuomintang Party, which was just attempting to establish a political coalition with Soongs Peoples First Party (PFP) for the December 2001 Legislative Yuan elections, decided not to appeal the case.
Then, on 3 April 2001, the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors Office said that, through petitions, prosecutors had been informed of new facts and evidence, and that it had asked the Taipei District Prosecutors Office to re-open the case.
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