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Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji said on Wednesday, March 15, that Taiwan would never be allowed to declare independence, regardless of who wins the island's presidential election.  He also added that "do not just act on impulse at this juncture, which will decide the future course that China and Taiwan will follow, otherwise I'm afraid you won't get another opportunity for regret."  He threatened the people of Taiwan to steer clear of pro-independence candidates during the election.
The statement and action not only undermines Taiwan's commitment to the democratic ideals of freedom and pluralism, but also attempts to interfere with the people's free will to choose their candidate.
Zhu's statement is condemned by many members of Congress.  Here are some reactions from members of the U. S. Congress:

Statement from Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Statement from Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Floor Statement from Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Statement from Ben Gilman (R-NY)
Statement from Sen. Torricelli (D-NJ)

Statement from Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA):                                                                    back to top

"The news conference remarks by Zhu Rongji threatening the voters of Taiwan with bloodshed is nothing more than a blatant gangster's strong-arm tactic.

This threat by Zhu should once and for all resolve the question of whether he is a liberal who the West "can do business with."
To the contrary, Zhu's remarks demonstrates why the United States should reject granting the communist regime permanent "Normal" trade status, because there is nothing "normal" about the willingness of Beijing to use force against a peaceful democratic neighbor."

Statement from Sherrod Brown (D-OH):                                                                            back to top

Brown Denounces China's recent threats against Taiwan

Washington, DC- U. S. Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today issued the following statement in response to China's recent intimidation tactics against Taiwan's second presidential election.  Brown, a senior member of the International Relations Committee and its Asia and Pacific Subcommittee, is widely known for his efforts to recognize Taiwan's sovereignty.

"In a mere three says, Taiwan's 23 million people will be voting in their second democratic presidential election.  As the date gets closer, the Chinese become more desperate to insert their influence in the outcome.  After issuing a policy statement on February 22 warning of a military attack if Taiwan delayed unification efforts, China went one step further today and openly threatened voters.  CNN reported that Chinese Premier Zhu Ronji warned Taiwanese citizens to vote for a candidate acceptable to China.  "Otherwise I'm afraid you won't get another opportunity for regret," Zhu stated.

China hopes to derail Saturday's election by hurling increasing hostile threats across the strait of Taiwan.  Their intimidation tactics didn't work in the first election, and the Taiwanese won't fall for them now. China needs to accept the fact that they don't have a vote in the upcoming election.  It is the freely cast note of the Taiwanese people that will determine the next president.  About this, China should not have the slightest doubt."

Floor Statement from Sherrod Brow (D-OH):                                                                    back to top
Congressman Sherrod Brown Statement on the Floor of the House of Representatives Taiwan Elections and China PNTR
March 16, 2000

Mr. Speaker, China has escalated its interference with Taiwan's presidential election on March 18.  Yesterday, Premier Zhu Rongji held a news conference intensifying threats of violence made in PRC's recent White Paper should Taiwan make any moves towards independence.  He said to the people of Taiwan, "Do not act with impulse at this juncture.  Otherwise, I'm afraid you won't get another opportunity for regret."

Considering this latest demonstration of contempt for democracy and peaceful self-determination in Taiwan, I am confused why this Congress is even considering giving China Permanent Normal Trade Relations status.  This dictatorship condones forced abortions, engages in religious persecution of Christians and Muslims, and has institutionalized slave and child labor. In fact, attempting to form an independent labor union is an offense punishable by death.  And it has repeatedly threatened violence when the 22 million people of Taiwan hold elections.

Congress has been promised over and over that free-market capitalism will create a more democratic and less hostile China. Yet after ten years of U.S. engagement with China, China remains a nation ruled by an authoritarian government with a violent aversion to human rights and a hostility to environmental and labor standards.  What makes anyone think the next ten years will be any different?

Why are there more corporate jets at Reagan National Airport during congressional debate on normalizing trade relations for China than any other time during the year?  The American public has come to know that a WTO deal for China is more about gaining access to 1.2 billion low wage workers than it is about selling our goods to 1.2 billion consumers. Americans intuitively understand that's why our trade deficit has skyrocketed from 100 million dollars in 1989 to 75 BILLION dollars in 1999.
 It is ridiculous for Congress to permanently give NTR to this totalitarian dictatorship.  I implore you, Mr. Speaker, and all members of Congress to heed the words of the Chinese Premier when considering PNTR: "Do not act with impulse at this juncture.  Otherwise, I'm afraid you won't get another opportunity for regret."

Statement from Ben Gilman (R-NY):                                                                                back to top

Gilman Blasts Chinese Intimidation of Taiwan

Washington (March 15)- U. S.  Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (20th- NY), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, released the following statement today concerning the Taiwanese election set for Saturday, march 18.

"On Saturday, the people of Taiwan will be free to choose a new president.  Regrettable, officials of the People's Republic of China have made statements designed to intimidate the Taiwanese people into voting for a candidate acceptable to China."

"These threat are unacceptable.  The United States insists that the status of Taiwan be decided by peaceful means with the consent of the people of Taiwan.  It is my hope that the people of Taiwan will ignore these contemptible threats and choose the candidate that they feel will best represent them.  Whoever is selected to lead Taiwan will have a productive working relationship with the American people, the American Congress and the American government.

"Rather than engaging in threatening behavior, China should be congratulating Taipei for the consolidation of its democracy- the first in 5,000 years of Chinese history- and for laying the groundwork for working with the new Taiwanese president for the betterment of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

"It is also regrettable that the Chinese have turned to blaming the United States for the problems in their relationship with Taiwan. It seems to me that the refusal to renounce the use of force, an unprecedented military buildup, and threatening rhetoric against Taiwan would be more central to the difficulties in the relationship. The United States has been key to the peace and stability that we have seen across the Taiwan Strait for over 50 years.

Statement from Sen. Torricelli (D-NJ):                                                                            back to top

Torricelli tells China to back-off Taiwan elections
Says Taiwan "is now a mature democracy and needs no meddling by Beijing"

Washington, D. C.- Senator Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ) today told Chinese Prime Zhu Ronji that the people of Taiwan do not need his advice after Zhu issued a warning aimed at dissuading voters from supporting pro-independence candidates in this Saturday's elections.
"Taiwan has undergone an extraordinary transformation from an authoritarian regime to a genuine democracy," Senator Torricelli said.  "It is now a mature democracy and needs no meddling by Beijing."

The Senator's statement came in response to the warning issued by Zhu earlier today during a news conference: "Let me advise all these people in Taiwan: Do not just act on impulse at this juncture which will decide the future course that China and Taiwan will follow," Zhu said.  " Otherwise I'm afraid you won't get another opportunity to regret."

Zhu's statement follows the release last month of a "white paper" which warned that it Taiwan indefinitely delays negotiations on reunification, China will "adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force.  The paper went beyond China's previous warning that it would take Taiwan by force only if it declares independence or were occupied by a foreign power.

In response to the "white paper," Torricelli, a long-time supporter of Taiwan's democracy and sponsor of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, delivered a statement on the Senate floor last week in which he condemned the threats made in the white paper:

"These aggressive statements obviously only serve to increase tension in the region and make a peaceful settlement: among the people of Taiwan and the People's Republic of China much more difficult," Torricelli said.

"It appears that the election of Taiwan's new President will be close.  It is critical to the functioning of Taiwan's democracy that the people of Taiwan stand resolute and that their voters not allow these actions to intimidate them.

"The dispute between Taiwan and Beijing will not be settled by military means, and the United States, in a policy that is not unique to Taiwan, will not idly witness a free people in a democratic nation be invaded or occupied and have their political system altered by armed aggression.

"I believe this is the cornerstone of American foreign policy in the postwar period.  It remains central to who we are as a people and our role as the world's largest and most powerful democracy.

"Taiwan, today, is the cornerstone of that American commitment.  Tomorrow, it could be Africa or Latin America.  How we stand now on the eve of these free election in Taiwan will most assuredly constitute a powerful message in all other places where others would challenge these new and fledgling democracies."

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