Washington Times


The visitor from Taiwan

House editorial

May 16, 2001

The Bush administration´s decision to allow Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian to stop briefly in the United States on his way to and from Latin America and, most importantly, meet with U.S. lawmakers, sends Beijing a clear and long-overdue message: Washington need not kowtow to all of Beijing´s wishes, particularly those regarding democratic-model and U.S. friend Taiwan. And, given China´s shabby treatment of the United States in response to the unfortunate but unintended recent in air collision, the decision allowing Mr. Chen some visits is especially timely and fitting.

The White House has elegantly downplayed its decision to encourage Mr. Chen´s visits with U.S. legislators. "We will try to reassure the authorities in Beijing that there is nothing in the president´s transit that they should find disturbing or in any way modifying or changing or casting any doubt on the policy that exists between us and the People´s Republic of China," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday, referring to communiques issued in 1979 which established U.S. acceptance of a one-China policy.

All the same, the White House decision does make a noteworthy break from the policy of the previous administration. When Mr. Chen stopped in Los Angeles in August for a brief 15 hours, his movements were restricted to his hotel and the State Department blocked him from attending a reception sponsored by 15 congressmen.

This time, Mr. Chen has been extended much warmer hospitality, and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told The Washington Times, "We encourage congressmen to meet with foreign leaders." Mr. Chen will meet with New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and observe the New York Stock Exchange. Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, California Republican, said that he, along with several other lawmakers, planned to meet with Mr. Chen. And Rep. Tom Delay, Republican from Texas and House majority whip, has invited the Taiwanese leader to a Houston Astros game and a tour of NASA on his return from Latin America in June. Also, Mr. Delay plans to give Mr. Chen a genuine cowboy outfit.

All these plans should create plenty of photo-ops, which Beijing will surely notice. And given the regime´s ill-temper lately, perhaps it will also provide some important lessons as to how the United States expects to be treated.