American Heritage Week, 2000
Chen, President, FAPA
20, 2000 in San Diego, CA
Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Friends, and Fellow Taiwanese
you, Mr. Chairman for this nice introduction. It is a great
honor to be here tonight to see so many old and new friends
and to join you to celebrate the Taiwanese American Heritage
Week as part of a month long cerebration of Asia Pacific
Heritage. I am very impressed by the sponsoring organizations
for putting up such a fabulous program to celebrate Taiwanese
American Heritage Week. FAPA takes pride to initiate this
celebration two years ago. This is the occasion to celebrate
the unique and diverse contributions of Taiwanese Americans
to the American society and to solidify our community pride.
We hope this celebration would become the tradition of our
the Taiwanese American Heritage week, President Clinton
said in his statement, and I quote, "Throughout our
nation’s history, Americans have drawn strength, hope, and
inspiration from their ethnic heritage. Our ancestors came
from every corner of the world, bring the myriad cultures,
experiences, and beliefs that shape our nation today. A
vibrant part of that legacy, the people and culture of Taiwan
have made invaluable contributions to every sector of our
President-elect Chen Shui-bian, in recognition of Taiwanese
American’s contribution to Taiwan’s democratization, said
in a letter to us to celebrate Taiwanese American Heritage
Week, and I quote, " I would like to recognize the
extraordinary achievements of Taiwanese Americans, from
business to the arts, from academia to high tech. Your are
the pride of all Taiwanese people. I also want to thank
you for being willing to come back to contribute your expertise
for a better, more modern Taiwan. It is because of your
efforts over the years to seek U.S. guarantees of support
for Taiwan and for peace in the Taiwan Strait that full
democratic reform and a peaceful transition of power could
take place in Taiwan. We specially recognize the immense
support Taiwan has received from the U.S. Congress as due
to your long-term efforts to establish close ties with Members
of Congress. In the future, my government will need even
more support and effort from you in order to strengthen
and upgrade U.S.-Taiwan relations."
senators and representatives also join us in cerebrating
our heritage week. Senator Feingold from Wisconsin, Senator
Torricelli of New Jersey, Representative Nita Lowey from
New York, Representative Bob Schaffer from Colorado, Representative
Robert Wexler from Florida, Representative Tom Tancredo
of Colorado, Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio, Representative
David Wu from Oregon, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Peter Deutsch
of Florida have all joined President Clinton and President-elect
Chen Shui-bian in paying tribute to Taiwanese Americans'
achievements and their contributions to the American society
and Taiwan's democratic reform.
this is the time to celebrate our heritage and achievement
in this land of opportunity, this is also the occasion for
us to reflect upon ourselves to know who we are and where
we came from.
all of us are the first generation of Taiwanese Americans
who came to this country thirty years ago either as students
or immigrants to realize our American dreams. Although we
are working in different professions and in different fields,
we are a very close knit community. We celebrate together
and support each other during difficulty times. What binds
us together are our common culture and heritage. Through
hard work and traditional Taiwanese value of emphasizing
education, we have become one of the very successful minorities
in the United States. We not only achieve the material success
we are also very successful in raising our children. I had
opportunities attending several meetings organized by our
second generation youngsters called ITASA, Intercollegiate
Taiwanese Students Association. I was very impressed by
the talents and abilities of so many Taiwanese American
children who attend the best colleges and universities throughout
the nation. They are our future and they are source of our
pride. Looking at these young men and women and see what
they can do for the community, I am very confident that
our community will have a very bright future.
Taiwanese Americans have very short history of immigration.
It began in 1950s and early 60s. Most of us came to the
United States originally not as immigrants but rather as
students pursuing our advanced degrees. Back then, there
were very few universities in Taiwan offering graduate programs
and anyone who was motivated to pursue graduate studies
had to go abroad and the United States was the first choice.
We have many stories to tell. I remember when I first came
to New York, I had only 300 dollars in my pocket. I spent
$60 dollars for a room, $50 for a winter coat, and $20 dollars
for a radio. There was very little left, but that was how
I started my life in the United States. I am sure you have
similar stories to share.
number of Taiwanese Americans in that period of time was
very small, perhaps about several thousand. After they completed
their advanced degrees and for various reasons, political
or economical, many of us chose to stay and eventually became
the citizens of the United States.
according to the U.S. census, there were only about 17,000
FAPA respondents who identify themselves as Taiwanese Americans.
In 1980, through the work of FAFA predecessor organization,
the U.S. Congress passed the law to allocate an annual 20,000
immigration quota specifically for people from Taiwan, independent
from those of China. From that year on, there had been a
steady influx of Taiwanese immigrants to the United States.
By 1990, again, according to the U.S. census, there were
about 350,000 immigrants who identify themselves as Taiwanese
Americans. The number is still very small comparing with
other minorities. Half of them lived in California. They
were young and their median age was only 30s. It is estimated
that the number of Taiwanese Americans perhaps will be over
a half million by the year of 2000. Looking at numbers,
you can see that Taiwanese Americans are a minority among
what the Taiwanese Americans lack in number they make up
by quality. Taiwanese Americans are quite unique in their
educational level and accomplishment. According to 1990
census, about 40% of Taiwanese Americans were college graduates,
8% of them have doctoral degrees. They are at the top among
Asian American groups in terms of education attainment.
71% of Taiwanese Americans own houses, and among Taiwanese
American working women and men, 48% are either professionals
or hold managerial positions.
are many well known Taiwanese Americans who distinguished
themselves in their respective fields. They contribute their
talents to their adopted nation in medicine, science, engineer,
education, industries and business. The best known Taiwanese
American, perhaps, is Dr. Lee yuan-tse who won a Nobel Prize
in Chemistry in 1986 and now is the president of Taiwan's
development of Taiwanese American community is closely linked
to the political development in Taiwan. Many people believe
that the seeds of Taiwan's democratization are planted by
overseas Taiwanese, particularly those in Japan and the
United States. Many of you here tonight in many different
ways have made many contributions to the development of
Taiwan's democracy. I believe that all of us must be very
proud of being a part of this great achievement.
desire to see Taiwan become a free democracy, and the right
of Taiwanese people to determine their own future, to be
independent from China's control has been the primary force
that unites our community together.
movement commonly known as "Taiwan Independence Movement"
was first started in 1956 in Philadelphia by a group of
Taiwanese students called themselves Free Formosans' Formosa
(3F) and two years later changed it to the United Formosans
for Independence (UFI). They openly advocate the idea that
Taiwan should become and be recognized as an independent
country. Their idea was radical and posed a great challenge
to Chiang Kai-shek's regime. It was extremely courageous
for them to speak up the idea, because promoting Taiwan
independence was a capital crime in Taiwan at that time.
idea of Taiwan independent spurted in 1960s, small groups
of Taiwanese began to organize a social club called Formosan
Club which was the predecessor of Taiwanese Association
of America TAA. Although Formosan Club was ostensibly a
social and apolitical organization, those who joined the
club mostly shared the idea that Taiwan must one day be
free and democratic..
was the beginning of Taiwanese organization and the prevailing
political ideology of our community. TAA has been the magnet
of our community ever since
on, as Taiwan quickened its pace of democratization, there
were many Taiwanese American organizations established to
deal with various issues related to Taiwan. These organizations
include North America Taiwanese Professors Association,
Formosan Association for Public Affairs, North America Medical
Association, North America Women' Association, just to name
a few. Each of these organizations in its own way has contributed
to the democratization of Taiwan.
in the 60s, 70s, and 80s was ruled by the remnant of KMT
forces who were defeated by Communists in 1940s. Taiwan
then was tightly controlled by martial law and ruled by
a harsh, authoritarian regime. I am sure many of you still
remember the life under that regime.
today is completely different. The political transformation
from an authoritarian to a democratic state is amazing.
It is one of the remarkable political achievement in the
20th century. It was all accomplished peacefully
without blood shed and with little social upheaval. Taiwan
now is ranked as one of the freest nations in the world.
Its people enjoy all the freedoms that are protected under
constitution. And their human rights are no longer an issue
inauguration of Chen shui-bian yesterday marked another
historical turning point in Taiwan's political history.
It shows how democracy in Taiwan has flourished and matured.
This is the first time in Taiwan's history that the political
power was peacefully handed over from a dominate ruling
party which has ruled Taiwan for 50 years to an opposition
more remarkable is the fact that while undertaking political
transformation, Taiwan also achieves one of the economical
miracles in Asia. It is the 14th largest trading
nation in the world. 7th largest trading partner of the
United States, and one of the largest holders of foreign
reserve. It is also interesting to know that the trade between
the U.S. and Taiwan, an island nation of 23 million people,
is more than the trade between the U.S. and China, a country
of 1.2 billion people. Taiwan is also the third largest
manufacturer of computers in the world.
Americans, we all very proud of what our homeland have achieved
in the past fifteen years politically and economically.
just ten years ago Taiwan was quite a different place. I
remember in 1989 and 1991 when I was in Taiwan observing
elections, the opposition party was prohibited from advocating
certain sensitive issues such as independence and self-determination.
Those dared to promote self-determination risked being charged
with sedition punishable by long jail sentences and even
remember in 1989 and 1991 while were in Taipei, we were
keenly aware that we were constantly followed by secret
security agents. I was forced out of a taxi by security
agent several times to show my ID on the way to my hotel
after attending a political rally. Hotel clerk told us afterwards
that security agents had been looking for our whereabouts.
Taiwanese have enjoyed the total freedom free from fear
of being watched and under surveillance.
sea changes, of course, did not occur over night. It took
courage, sacrifices, and even lives of many brave men and
women to bring about these changes.
1950s and 60s, under Chiang's oppressive rule and martial
law, a small group of elite Chinese mainlanders and Taiwanese
intellectuals through their publication called "Free
China" attempted to organize an opposition party to
challenge Chiang's authoritarian regime and his fictitious
goal of retaking mainland China. The leaders were silenced
and attempt failed. In 1970s, Taiwan underwent a rapid industrialization
and economic development. The ensuing formation of business
and middle class demanded greater voices in political process.
This demand translated into the support of "Dong Wai",
outside the KMT party. At that time organizing a political
party, particularly the opposition party, was illegal. In
1977 "Don Wai" won a significant victory in local
election, and a charge of election fraud in Chung-li led
to the biggest riot since 1947.
also marked a period of significant changes in Taiwan's
international relations. In 1971, Chiang's representatives
were expelled from the United Nations. Many countries also
began to shift their diplomatic recognition from the Republic
of China to the People's Republic of China. In 1972 Nixon
traveled to China and, in a joint communiqué, the United
States acknowledges that both sides of the Taiwan Strait
maintain there is one China and Taiwan is a part of China.
The right of Taiwanese people to determine their future
was totally ignored in the international geopolitics. In
1979, in a final blow to the Chinag's regime, the United
States formally established a diplomatic relations with
Beijing and began an official relations with Taiwan based
on Taiwan Relations Act.
became more and more isolated in the international community,
the demands for democratic reform in Taiwan grew stronger.
In 1979, Formosa Magazine organized a human rights rally
in Kaohsiung in commemorating UN Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. The rally provoked by government secret agents,
turned into a riot, and government used it as a pretense
to arrest fifty prominent opposition leaders who had spoken
out in favor of democratic reforms or independence. This
incidence, now we call Kaohsing incidence, represents the
most significant crackdown on dissidents since 1947. It
also represents turning point in Taiwan's democratization,
for this time, unlike the aftermath of 228 in 1947, Taiwanese
people in Taiwan and abroad were not to be intimidated and
silenced. Relatives, lawyers of jailed dissidents and young
leaders of the opposition movement continued to press for
a respect of human rights, democracy, and rights of Taiwanese
people to decide their own future.
and demonstrations continued through 1980s. Issues such
as lifting martial law, parliamentary reform, environmental
protection, women's rights, academic freedom, and censorship
had attracted much attention in Taiwan and abroad. In a
most defiant move, the opposition leaders in 1986, in spite
of government ban, formed Democratic Progressive Party.
The party took a even more bold stand by incorporating Taiwan
Independence position into its charter in 1991. Although
the KMT regime continued using censorship and arrest to
stem the tide of democracy movement, it finally yielded
to the pressure from the people of Taiwan and international
opinion by lifting the martial law in 1987, the longest
martial law in human history.
Chiang Ching Kuo died in 1988 and Lee Teng Hui took over
the presidency, the pace of political reform accelerated.
We saw removal of so call "Temporary Provision"
and "Mobilization Period for the Suppression of the
Communist Rebellion" from the Constitution and "Statute
for the Punishment of Sedition", a device used to suppress
dissidents. And we also saw students' involvement in demanding
further political reform, leading to an opening of National
Affairs Conference and the eventual dissolution of National
Assembly made of 700 "old thieves" and a new parliamentary
election in 1991.
o f these development reached its climax in 1996 when Taiwanese
people for the first time in their 400 years of history
elected their own president in spite of missile threat from
democracy marches on. In 1997, Democratic Progressive Party
surprised everybody by capturing a majority votes in local
election. The party is now ruling over 70% of the population.
The significance of this election was that it showed that
the Taiwanese voters had the confidence in a party that
had written Taiwan Independence position into their platforms.
The rising power of the DPP reflects a dynamics of democracy
we saw another milestone in Taiwan's democratic development.
An opposition party associated with Taiwan Independence
was sworn in as the President of Taiwan. The Taiwanese people
elected Mr. Chen in spite of constant intimidation, White
Paper, and military threat from China during election campaign.
The voice of Taiwanese people has spoken loud and clear.
rising sentiment for an independence country is also shown
in the public opinion. Recent polls have shown that a majority
of Taiwanese now has identified themselves as Taiwanese,
and people in favor of independence or maintaining status
quo are far more than those in favor of unification with
years ago, Taiwan Independence, TI was a rarely spoken word.
It was a taboo, a forbidden word, a word that has negative
connotation associated with danger and subversion, and few
people took it seriously. Now, it is becoming a household
vocabulary, and a distinctive possibility. Even a major
magazine, U.S. News and World Report, for instance, published
an article using such provocative title as "Spirit
of Independence: One Taiwan, One China." This development,
of course, has many implications for the U.S. and the world.
these dark days of political reforms , many Taiwanese Americans
extended their helping hands to support those who were prosecuted
and jailed. They lobbied their congressmen to speak for
human rights and democracy and political reform.
achievement toward democracy has received high praises from
the world. U.S. commentators called it a political miracle,
the greatest political transformation in the 20th
century. And yet Taiwan is not readily accepted into the
community of nations such as United Nations and other international
organizations. Nations such as Cuba, North Korea, Iran,
Iraq, and Libya, the so called rogue nations are members
of many international organizations. Yet, Taiwan, a democracy,
a free country, and an economic powerhouse has been excluded
from the international community. It has diplomatic relations
with only about 29 small countries.
roots of the problem as you all know are the China's unjustified
claim that Taiwan is part of China and KMT's faulty policy
of the past. Is Taiwan a part of China? I do not intent
to engage in historical and legal expose here.
most important fact is that the People's Republic of China
since its establishment in 1949, has never ruled Taiwan
for a single day. Taiwan is a de facto independent nation.
It has its own elected president, territory, effective government,
and a proud and industrious people who wish to manage their
own affairs. The international community should respect
and support the Taiwanese people's right to make that choice.
opens its door, develops its economy, modernizes it military
forces, China is becoming a power that the world has to
reckon with. And China is using its growing power to further
isolate Taiwan and attempts to force Taiwan to negotiate
away its future.
era of geopolitics, Taiwan indeed is facing a very difficult
situation and its very survival is at stake. However, we
do not believe that the people of Taiwan after so many years
of struggle are willing to trade away their economic fruits,
freedom, and democracy. I do not believe that Taiwanese
people are willing to live under a umbrella of a totalitarian
regime that denies its citizens' human rights, suppress
its minorities and their culture, and shot its citizens
during a peaceful demonstration in Tienanman Square in 1989.
people in Taiwan definitely need a lot of international
support, particularly the support of the United States government
and American people. We believe that the support of the
United States is vital to the survival of Taiwan, because
the United States is the only superpower in the world that
can stand up against China.
we, Taiwanese Americans, can play a very significant role.
We must ,first, constantly remind our government that the
United States not only has the legal obligation under Taiwan
Relations Act to help Taiwan defend itself, our government
also has moral responsibility to support a young democracy
from being taken over by a communist dictator by force.
we must challenge the so called "One China" policy.
The "One China' policy was formulated during the peak
of the cold war in 1970s. The cold war is over and this
policy clearly does not reflect the reality. In a span of
thirty years since Shanghai communiqué, things have changed
dramatically. Taiwan is now a full-fledged democracy and
the will of the Taiwanese people must be fully respected.
It is about time for the United States to reexamine its
policy toward Taiwan in line with the development of democracy
in this island nation.
we call upon the U.S. Senate to pass the Taiwan Security
Enhancement Act. In the past several years, we have seen
constant threats from China. In 1996 during Taiwan's first
presidential election, China launched test missiles to intimidate
Taiwanese people. This year, although no missile was launched,
China has repeatedly threatened to use force if Taiwanese
voters elects pro-independence candidate. It also published
so called White paper dictating the conditions for surrender.
The Chinese primer Chu Rong Chi repeatedly warned the Taiwanese
people of dire consequences if they voted for Mr. Chen.
up their threat, China has deployed at least 200 medium
and short range missiles aiming at Taiwan. Taiwanese people
have been living constant fear of war. Because of China
is rapidly modernizing its forces, Taiwan's ability to defend
itself is eroding. A recent classified Pentagon report clearly
shows that because of diplomatic isolation, Taiwanese forces
have suffered many deficiencies. Passage of this bill will
help strengthen Taiwanese forces to defend themselves. We
believe deterrence with strength is the best means to maintain
Taiwanese Americans, we have helped Taiwan achieve its democratization.
Now, we are facing another challenge that is even more formidable
and daunting. It requires all of us working together again
with new vision and resolve. What we are facing now is not
the issue of Taiwan's democracy and human rights. It is
the issue of survival as a nation. We must roll up our selves
and continue our work to make sure that this young democracy
Taiwan will survive, flourish, and become an equal and full
member of the international community.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for
your unyielding support of the Formosan Association for
Public Affairs. If FAPA has accomplished anything in the
past years, it is because of our competent and dedicated
staff, our members, and particularly our community. Your
support is the source of encouragement, knowing that we
have a whole community behind us. For this, I am deeply
you very much for listening.