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 Extensions of Remarks by Rep. Andrews (May 3, 2006)

 

RESTRICTIONS TO TAIWANESE PRESIDENT CHEN SHUI-BIAN'S TRAVEL IN THE U.S. -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 03, 2006)

 

SPEECH OF_HON. ROBERT E. ANDREWS OF NEW JERSEY

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2006

    * Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, as you may know, this morning, the democratically elected president of Taiwan , Mr. Chen Shui-bian finally received permission to stop in Anchorage--but not spend the night--on his way to South America. This is quite a change in plans for President Chen, who had hoped to meet with Members of Congress in New York on his way to Paraguay and Costa Rica, but whose trip was delayed for a day because the administration at first refused even this brief stopover. If you have been following this case, you would probably agree with me that this is no way to treat the democratically elected president of one of our staunchest allies in the Pacific.

    * There are no laws or regulations that prevent leaders from Taiwan visiting the United States, but simply a policy of the administration that forbids President Chen and other Taiwanese officials from officially visiting the United States. What is the source of this restriction? Concern that the Chinese government will be displeased by any welcome of a Taiwanese official on our soil. However, this most recent self-imposed restriction goes even further than the previous policy I have spoken against.

    * Last week, the Chinese urged us NOT to allow President Chen to land in the United States at all. I suppose that we can therefore view this Alaskan stop as a victory for U.S. sovereignty and relations with Taiwan . However, in the past President Chen has been allowed stops in Los Angeles, Houston, and New York. The final agreement allowed him to touch down and refuel in Alaska, but not even get off the plane--what an insult to a friend and partner of the U.S.A.

    * I understand that President Chen will be allowed to pass through Honolulu, HI, next week on his way home from South America. I mean no disrespect to the fine States of Hawaii and Alaska, but the symbolism of keeping President Chen as far away from Washington, DC, as possible is unmistakable.

    * Mr. Speaker, I believe that this is no way to treat the elected president of one of our fellow democracies which happens to be one of our best friends in the region.

    * Last month we invited the unelected leader of China to the White House. We presented with a 21 gun salute, and laid out the red carpet for him. But the democratically elected President of Taiwan we do not even let set foot on U.S. soil.

    * What is wrong with this picture?

    * I believe that we should work towards lifting all restrictions on high level visits from Taiwan including the President. This would have several benefits for both the United States and our friend Taiwan . First, we would for once and for all eradicate the necessity of complex, lengthy and, truly, humiliating-for-Taiwan negotiations about where and when President Chen would be able to refuel or travel in the United States. Secondly, being able to hear first-hand from Taiwanese officials would promote a balanced understanding of both sides of the Taiwan Strait issue for Congress, the Administration and the American public. Thirdly, we would reduce the ability of Beijing to politicize our valid relations with Taiwan . Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we would extend to the President of Taiwan --and thus to the people of Taiwan --the respect and dignity they deserve.

    * Next week, when President Chen travels home to Taiwan , I hope the administration will change its plans and allow President Chen to make a stopover in New York as he initially planned.

     * It is my sincere belief that the United States needs to do a better job in nurturing and protecting the fragile democracy in Taiwan . We can do that by communicating directly with President Chen about how he sees the role of his country in promoting democracy around the world.

 

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