Ros-Lehtinen Calls For Strict Political Neutrality In Taiwan’s Elections

In a letter dated December 21, 2011 (attached), the powerful chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) called upon the Obama Administration to maintain strict political neutrality in Taiwan’s January 14th elections, and to keep a close eye on China’s intentions to disturb the democratic process.

The chairman wrote: “We must remain vigilant to cover any [..] signs of continued attempts by Beijing to bully Taiwan or to again interfere with its electoral process. Similarly, the Administration must refrain from speaking and acting in any way that can be identified as supporting any particular candidate.”

Referencing the recent high-level visits to Taiwan by Assistant Secretary of Commerce Suresh Kumar, by  USAID administrator Rajiv Shah and by Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, the chairman wrote: “While I welcome visits by high-ranking U.S. officials, I would add a word of caution. With the elections only weeks away, U.S. officials should be careful to conduct their activities on the island in a manner which projects strict political neutrality.”

She added “Deputy Secretary Poneman also indicated United States government support for Taiwan’s participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In addition, committee staffers have unofficially been informed that an Administration announcement of Taiwan’s nomination to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) may be made before the end of the calendar year.”

She concluded the letter stating: “While I naturally endorse these actions to increase Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and to strengthen its ties with the U.S. […] the timing of these announcements again appear to be problematic with regard to the elections to be held in less than one month.” (NOTE: Taiwan’s participation in the VWP program was announced on December 22.)

FAPA President Bob Yang, Ph.D. reacts: “The letter represents the wide support in Congress for a free and fair electoral process in the crucial upcoming elections in Taiwan, and for the reiteration of U.S. neutrality regarding the outcome of that process.”

Dr. Yang concludes: “The letter serves as a timely reminder that the successful continuation of Taiwan’s democracy depends largely on the willingness of all parties, including neighboring countries, to respect the choice of Taiwan’s voters.”

眾議員蘿絲蕾婷娜呼籲美國政府在台灣選舉保持中立

眾議院外交委員會主席,眾議員蘿絲蕾婷娜(Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL)1221致函柯林頓國務卿,呼籲歐巴馬政府,在台灣114日的總統大選中,維持最高標準的政治中立,並仔細監看中國意圖攪擾台灣民主進程的動機

主席在信中表示:「我們必須對北京不斷地試圖欺侮台灣或再一次干涉其選舉過程的意圖保持警覺。同樣地,我們的政府不應做出任何不當的發言或行為,使人認為我們支持任何一方的候選人。」

在提到美國商務部助理部長庫瑪爾(Suresh Kumar)、美國國際開發署署長沙赫(Rajiv Shah)、美國能源部副部長伯納曼(Daniel Poneman)最近相偕訪台一事,主席寫道:「我一方面樂見這些高層級美國官員訪台,同時我也要表達些微警示。選舉不過只剩幾周,美國官員在台灣的一切活動都必須保持嚴謹的政治中立。」

她補充:「能源部副部長伯納曼也表示美國政府支持台灣參與國際原子能總署(IAEA)。除此之外,外交委員會的同仁也私下被告知,美國政府可能會在年底之前,宣布台灣獲得免簽證候選國的資格。」

她於信末指出:「雖然我平時認同這些加強台灣在國際組織參與及其與美國關係的作為,但這些消息發布的時間在選前一個月,讓人覺得有些蹊翹。」(:台灣成為免簽證候選國的消息已於1222日發布)

台灣人公共事務會會長楊英育回應:「該信函表明美國國會成員支持台灣即將到來的重要大選以公平及不受干擾的方式舉行,及美國重申其中立立場,無論選舉結果為何。」

楊會長最後指出:「這封信函及時地提醒大家,台灣民主如何成功延續,仰賴各方人士,包括亞洲鄰國,尊重台灣選民抉擇的意願。」

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CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
House of Representatives
Committee on Foreign Affairs

December 21, 2011

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

Best wishes to you and your staff at the State Department during the coming holiday season.

Om January 14, 2012, the people of Taiwan will go to the polls for both presidential and legislative elections. These elections will mark another important step forward in Taiwan’s quarter century evolution from a garrison state under martial law to a democracy.

Taiwan’s young democracy is still fragile with the first popular election of a president only taking place in 1996. Beijing has not lessened its attempts to interfere with Taiwan’s democratic institutions and electoral process in the years since that first eventful election. Earlier this year the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman warned Taiwan’s voters to “”choose the right person”” in the upcoming election. There are also recent press reports that Beijing plans to conduct a missile test in Pacific waters near Taiwan just days before Taiwan’s voters go to the polls.

We must remain vigilant to cover any other signs of continued attempts by Beijing to bully Taiwan or to again interfere with its electoral process. Similarly, the Administration must refrain from speaking and acting in any way that can be identified as supporting any particular candidate.

In September, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Suresh Kumar visited Taiwan. Earlier this month, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah, also made an official visit to Taiwan. On December 12, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman arrived in Taiwan making him the most senior US official to visit Taiwan in years.

While I welcome visits by high-ranking U.S. officials, I would add a word of caution. With the elections only weeks away, U.S. officials should be careful to conduct their activities on the island in a manner which projects strict political neutrality. Official meetings with only one of the three presidential candidates could be misinterpreted by the Taiwanese electorate as an official endorsement.

Deputy Secretary Poneman also indicated United States government support for Taiwan’s participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In addition, committee staffers have unofficially been informed that an Administration announcement of Taiwan’s nomination to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) may be made before the end of the calendar year.

While I naturally endorse these actions to increase Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and to strengthen its ties with the U.S. — VWP being an essential component of the Taiwan Policy Act which I introduced in the House in September – the timing of these announcements again appear problematic with regard to the elections to be held in less than one month. The Taiwanese electorate could interpret these as deliverables provided by the Administration to Taiwan’s current President just before he faces the voters at the polls. It would seem more prudent to schedule any long-awaited announcement on the Visa Waiver Program after the January 14th elections.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you. And I wish you a Happy New Year!

Sincerely yours,

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN

Chairman

(December 22, 2011) Ros-Lehtinen Calls For Strict Political Neutrality In Taiwan’s Elections / 眾議員蘿絲蕾婷娜呼籲美國政府在台灣選舉保持中立