Sixteen Taiwanese-American Organizations Write To Former President Bill Clinton

Urging him to remain neutral during his Taiwan visit

On November 8th 2010, sixteen Taiwanese-American organizations sent a joint letter to former President Bill Clinton, who will be visiting Taiwan in mid-November 2010.

The organizations include all major Taiwanese-American groups, such as the Taiwanese Association of America, the North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association, the North American Taiwanese Women’s Association, and the North American Taiwanese Medical Association. It also includes international umbrella organizations such as the World Taiwanese Congress (WTC) and the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations. See below for the full text of the letter and list of signatories.

In the letter, the organizations urge the former president to remain “scrupulously neutral” during his visit, expressing concern that his statements may be misrepresented as endorsing the policies of the KMT administration of president Ma Ying-jeou.

The organizations point out that voters in Taiwan will cast their ballots on November 27th in hotly contested elections for the five major municipalities. “Many topics, such as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement … have turned into sensitive campaign issues” , wrote the organizations.

The letter also states that during the past months, Taipei has frequently used foreign visitors to give the impression that its policies of accommodation with China have “reduced tension” across the Taiwan Strait. The organizations write: “In our view, this is a flawed and superficial argument. China lessened its threats only because the Ma administration has made Taiwan subservient. In fact, the number of missiles China targets at Taiwan has increased.”

The organization emphasize that they worked hard for Taiwan’s democracy, but that “…the Ma administration has drifted in China’s direction and deviated from the status quo that the U.S. traditionally advocates. This is at the great expense of freedom, democracy and human rights in Taiwan.”

The organizations reiterate that freedom, democracy and human rights are core U.S. values and urge the former President to speak out openly and forcefully for them while in Taiwan.

They conclude by lauding former president Clinton for his 2000 statements that Taiwan’s future must be resolved peacefully and with the assent of the people of Taiwan. They urge him to reiterate these remarks, saying this would contribute greatly to the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future, free from coercion by China.

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Dear President Clinton,

From press reports we understand that you will visit Taiwan during your Asia tour in mid November, 2010. As leaders of Taiwanese-American and affiliated organizations, we are delighted that you will bestow on Taiwan the high-profile attention it deserves. At the same time, we want to take this opportunity to raise an issue of concern to our community here in the United States as well as to our relatives and friends in Taiwan.

We are apprehensive that unwittingly your visit may be used by the Ma administration to score political points. Voters in Taiwan will cast their ballots on November 27 in the hotly contested five-municipality mayoral elections. Many topics, such as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement recently concluded with China by the Ma administration, have turned into sensitive campaign issues. We appeal to you to remain scrupulously neutral. If a meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou is entertained, we hope you will also grant an audience to Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Many of us fear that statements you make in Taiwan may be misrepresented as endorsing the policies of the Ma administration. During the past months, Taipei has frequently used foreign visitors to give the impression that its policies of accommodation with China have “reduced tension” across the Taiwan Strait. In our view, this is a flawed and superficial argument. China lessened its threats only because Taiwan has become subservient. In fact, the number of missiles China targets at Taiwan has increased.

As individuals who have worked hard for Taiwan’s democracy, we are distressed that the Ma administration has drifted in China’s direction and deviated from the status quo that the U.S. traditionally advocates, all at the expense of freedom, democracy and human rights in Taiwan. Reports from Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders attest to this fact. Freedom, democracy and human rights are core U.S. values. We request that you speak out openly and forcefully for them while in Taiwan.

We recall fondly that on February 24, 2000, you proclaimed the U.S. would “continue to make absolutely clear that the issues between Beijing and Taiwan must be resolved peacefully and with the assent of the people of Taiwan.” We implore you to reiterate that position. In so doing, you would contribute greatly to the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future, free from coercion by China. Thank you for your attention. We wish you Godspeed.

Sincerely yours,

  • Kang-Hou Wang, President, Dr. Kang-Lu Wang Memorial Foundation
  • Terri Giles, Executive Director, Formosa Foundation
  • Linda Lin, President,Formosan Association for Human Rights
  • Bob I. Yang, President,Formosan Association for Public Affairs
  • John Hsu, President,Friends of Taiwan, Inc.
  • Rev. Shang Nan Tsai, Chairman, National Taiwanese Presbyterian Council (U.S.A.)
  • Shyu-tu Lee, President, North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association
  • Leanne Lian-Yuan Chiou, President, North America Taiwanese Women’s Association
  • James Tu, President, North American Taiwanese Engineers Association
  • Norman Chiou, President, North American Taiwanese Medical Association
  • Ben Liu, President, Professor Chen Wen-chen Memorial Foundation
  • Chanchi Lee, President, Taiwan Hakka Association for Public Affairs in North America
  • Chung-nan Shih, President, Taiwanese Association of America
  • Susan Chang, President, World Federation of Taiwanese Associations
  • Susan Chang, Coordinator, World Taiwanese Congress
  • James S. Chen, Chairman, World United Formosans for Independence-U.S.A.
(November 11, 2010) Sixteen Taiwanese-American Organizations Write To Former President Bill Clinton