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Taiwan Caucus

    Congressman Chabot's Remarks at the International Inter-Parliamentary Conference
 

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) remarks Taipei - January 17, 2003


President Lee, my parliamentary colleagues, friends and guests.

Thank you for the very kind introduction. I am absolutely delighted to be here with you this evening on my first trip to what Dutch sailors called “Isla Formosa”, or ”beautiful island.”

First, let me say what an honor it is to be sharing the dais with Taiwan’s first popularly elected President, His Excellency Lee Teng-hui. We are very happy to be with you and we know that your countrymen greatly appreciated the work you have done for your nation.

I come as a founding leader of the United States Congressional Taiwan Caucus, a bipartisan group that seeks to build on our long, established friendship with Taiwan, and works to promote an American foreign policy that recognizes that friendship.

I am joined by my colleagues from the Caucus: founding Co-Chairmen Robert Wexler, from Florida, and Dana Rohrabacher, from California-both longtime and loyal friends of Taiwan-and our colleagues Congresswoman Shelly Berkeley, from Nevada, Congressmen Cliff Stearns, from Florida, Solomon Ortiz, from Texas, and Gil Gutknecht, from Minnesota. We are also delighted to be joined by two distinguished former Members of Congress, Steve Solarz of New York, and the Chairman Emeritus of the International Relations Committee, our great friend Ben Gilman. I know I can speak for all of them when I thank you for your warm hospitality and friendship.

The Congressional Taiwan Caucus now boasts over 100 members of Congress who agree that the security of Taiwan is important to all of us and will continue to work within the Congress and with our President to ensure that United States policies will promote peace and stability in the Taiwan straits.

I am very lucky to have a number of Taiwanese-American friends in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio-who, like fellow Taiwanese Americans throughout the United States, have made significant contributions that can be found in every facet of American life-in the arts and science, in medicine, in research and education, and in business. It is a very impressive record that all American can point to with pride.

I have a very dear friend from Cincinnati who is here with us today, and I want to give him special recognition. Dr. C.T. Lee first came to visit me before I was elected to Congress. He is a highly-respected neurosurgeon and a leader in shouthwestern Ohio’s Taiwanese-American community. He was one of those few folks in Cincinnati who believed that I would win my race against an incumbent Congressman. I’m now beginning my fifth term in Congress and C.T. Lee is still providing me with invaluable advice and counsel. We have spent much quality time together in Cincinnati and it’s great to be with him now in Taipei. My Taiwanese friends here today should know that he is an outstanding representative for your great nation in the United States.

As many of you know, we inaugurated the Congressional Taiwan Caucus on the anniversary of the signing of the Taiwan Relations Act. Our prupose was to reaffirm the United States commitment to Taiwan, and to strengthen that friendship and strategic partnership.

Taiwan is unique.

It is a trusted ally.

It is a thriving democracy which is situated right next door to the world’s largest dictatorship.

With a population of only 23 million people. it is the world’s 17th largest economy, and our 7th largest export market.

Since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, when the United States suffered its worst terrorist attach, Taiwan has been a major supporter of American domestic relief efforts. It has also been a significant donor to Afghanistan relief efforts. We in the Congress recognize and appreciated those contributions.

Where do we go from here? First, the United States government must support the strides that Taiwan has made in establishing a peaceful Taiwan. And we must make is absolutely clear that issued between Taipei and Beijing must be resolved peacefully and with the consent of the people of Taiwan.

The United States Congress can and should take steps to assist Taiwan in its bids for memberships in international organizations, such as the World Health Organization.

Taiwan’s achievements in the fired of health are substantial, including one of the highest life expectancy levels in Asia, maternal and infant mortality rates comparably to those of western countries, the eradication of such infectious diseases as cholera, smallpox, and the plaque, and the first to eradicate polio and provide children with hepatitis B vaccinations.

A member of us have supported efforts in the Congress to promote Taiwan’s involvement with the WHO, and we will against be joining our colleague Congressman Sherrod Brown, another co-founder of the Taiwan Caucus, in introducing legislation to 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 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland and to instruct the United States delegation to Geneva to implement that plan.

Early next week, I will be traveling to Tokyo to meet with Japanese cabinet officials and I will be carrying a letter to the Prime Minister from the four co-chairmen of the Caucus, encouraging to the Japanese government to work with our government in an effort to secure Taiwanese observer status at the Assembly. Observer status for Taiwan should unite rather than divide the world community; the right to good health has no boundaries.

We can also help our friends here by ensuring that Taiwan has the means to defend itself against aggression and we will continue to support U.S. efforts to enhance that security. The Taiwan Relations Act states that it is the policy of the United States to declare that peace and stability in the region are in the political, security, and economic interests of the United States, and to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other form of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan. The United States Congress continues to support the Taiwan Relations Act.

Peace and stability in East Asia is only possible if the democratic rights of the people of Taiwan and other nations in the region are respected. Continued United States support of the democratic movement will ensure the ability of the pole of Taiwan to exercise their right of self-determination.

I want to thank all of you for your kindness and courtesy. He gracious hospitality of the Taiwan people is everything I was told to expect. And I know I can speak for all of my colleagues when I tell you how much we appreciate you having us to here to visit.

We’re pleased to make many new friends and to renew friendships with our old friends. And we look forward to seeing all of you again in Washington. And we especially look forward to the day when your President can make his first official visit to our nations Capital.

God bless all of you. And thank you again for having us.

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