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Taiwan Caucus

    85 Members Inaugurate the Congressional Taiwan Caucus

Immediate Release                                                                                                       April 9, 2002

A bipartisan group of 85 Members of the House of Representatives inaugurated the Congressional Taiwan Caucus on April 9th to explore ways to positively enhance and strengthen U.S. relations and cooperation with the government and people of Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.

"The Caucus will also serve as a forum to educate members of Congress on issues affecting US-Taiwan relations as well as play a constructive role in monitoring and supporting peaceful cross-strait discussions between Taipei and Beijing," said Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL). "Finally, the caucus will serve as a medium by which legislators from the United States and Taiwan can formally exchange ideas and policy concerns."

Caucus Members noted that U.S. policy regarding the Taiwan Strait issue calls for a peaceful, mutually acceptable resolution of this question, and, because Taiwan is a democracy, a resolution that has the consent of the people of Taiwan. Because Taiwan is such a thriving democracy, the CTC wishes to deepen its dialogue with the people of the island and their elected representatives.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said that the CTC would serve both the people of the US and the people of Taiwan. The message "to those dictators in China" is "keep your bloody hands off of Taiwan. If we get that message across, it will be worth all the trouble."

Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY) stated that he viewed Taiwan as an "independent nation" and thanked Taiwan for "standing fully with us in the war on terrorism. We need more friendly and faithful allies like Taiwan during these critical days." Gilman said he would like to see both PRC and Taiwan representatives invited to the US for a dialogue that might bring about a peaceful resolution of the cross-strait issue.

Dr. Trong Chai, head of a delegation from Taiwan's Legislative Yuan, welcomed the inauguration of the CTC, stating, "In Taiwan we have established the Taiwan-US Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association to ensure that a full expression of the opinions of the people of Taiwan is clearly heard by the Caucus and that an on-going discussion of issues of joint concern will work to the benefit of the national interests of our two great countries."

The day-long inaugural celebration opened with a FAPA-hosted symposium. The first symposium panel discussed the Taiwan Relations Act. Amb. Harvey Feldman, as the State Department's official in charge of the TRA, gave background on the development of the legislation. Amb. Nat Bellocchi noted that the TRA had been very successful and stated that he didn't agree with those who wanted to change the current law. Bellocchi did note, however, that changes can and should be made to US policy, particularly regarding Taiwan's engagement in international organizations, codification of the "six assurances, and a stronger consultative role for Congress in Taiwan policy. TECRO Representative C.J. Chen stated that while the TRA has proven to be unique, practical, flexible and durable, and current US policy is very good, Taiwan still was not satisfied. "We would rather have formal diplomatic ties," Rep. Chen said clearly. "Then Taiwan could contribute much more" to the international community.

The second symposium panel was an opportunity for a dialogue between Members of the US Congress and the visiting Taiwanese Legislative Yuan delegation. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) underscored the importance of Taiwan's democracy and the importance of democratic countries standing together in the fight against terrorism. "We will not forget Taiwan, even though we are going through a war effort," he declared. "You are an example of what a free people can do and an example to China."

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) said that the Caucus was "long overdue" and also focused on the importance of Taiwan's democracy and the common interests between Taiwan and the US. Hsiao Bi-khim, spokesperson for the Taiwanese Legislative delegation, listed several areas of interest to the delegation - further cooperation in bilateral trade and the overall US-Taiwan economic relationship, including a possible Free Trade Agreement; further joint efforts toward Taiwan's participation in international organizations; support for high level participation in the coming APEC meeting in Mexico; joint efforts to promote democracy in Asia and challenge the myth that Asian values and democracy don't mix; and moving beyond security "hardware" - weapons systems per se, to improved "software" issues - operational training and communications.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) noted that his key focus was on getting Taiwan observer status in the WHO. Mr. Brown spoke eloquently of the need for Taiwan to join the WHO and also of what Taiwan could offer the WHO because of its strong medical professional establishment.

"This is truly an historic occasion," stated Wu Ming-chi, FAPA President. "From the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 to the present, Congress has been very supportive of Taiwan. However, the establishment of the CTC provides a vital communication channel that will allow the aspirations of the Taiwanese people to have an even clearer, louder voice. A better understanding of the reality of Taiwan today is key to an informed U.S. policy toward this great democratic friend and coalition partner in the fight against terrorism."

 


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