Taiwanese-Americans Protest U.S.’ Stance On Taiwan’s Presidential Elections

The community urges the Administration to maintain political neutrality and give stronger support for self-determination

WASHINGTON (Feb. 10th , 2012) – In a joint letter to President Obama, dated February 10th 2012, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, along with 11 other Taiwanese Americans organizations, expressed disappointment with recent statements and actions by the Obama Administration which displayed a lack of neutrality in Taiwan’s recent presidential elections.

The joint letter listed a number of instances, including statements by an anonymous White House official to the Financial Times in September 2011, a series of high-level visits by US sub-cabinet officials to Taiwan in the period September through December 2011, and the announcement, less than one month before the Taiwan elections, that Taiwan would be a candidate for the US Visa Waiver Program.

The letter stated that “[T]his series of statements and actions by your administration during a politically sensitive time led virtually all observers, American and Taiwanese alike, to reach the unavoidable conclusion that the U.S. government preferred the re-election of the incumbent administration in Taipei.”

The signatories added that “[A]s Taiwan-born American citizens who learned to cherish liberty and civil rights after we came to this country as immigrants, our community has long looked up to the United States as a model for democratic self-governance.  It therefore pains us to see the U.S. act contrary to its own founding principles by choosing sides in another nation’s democratic elections.”

The signatories concluded the letter by stating: “We …. strongly appeal to you to protect the right of self-determination for the 23 million people of Taiwan, and to work toward a Taiwan policy that supports the right of the people of Taiwan to decide their own political future.”

Commenting on the joint letter, FAPA president Dr. Mark Kao, states:  “The U.S. government had clearly stated on multiple occasions that it would remain scrupulously neutral in these elections.  However, despite these assurances, the net effect of the actions of the Obama Administration during the period leading up to the elections conveyed a markedly different impression and constituted an external distortion of the political playing field.”

Kao continues: “As Taiwanese-American citizens of the US we feel deeply about democracy in our land of birth, and take the position that the United States needs to be more supportive of our hard-won democracy instead of undermining it. By implicitly taking sides in the recent election, the Administration has done a disservice to Taiwan’s democracy.”

Kao concludes: “If the US wants to support democracy in East Asia, it needs to ensure that the people of Taiwan have full freedom to choose their future, free from outside interference.  Stability in the region can only be achieved if China accepts Taiwan as a friendly neighbor, and stops its unjust territorial claims and military threats.”

台美人對美國在台總統大選選邊站表示抗議

台美人社區呼籲歐巴馬政府保持中立並加強對自決的支持

[華府二月十日訊] 台灣人公共事務會與其他11個台美人社團,在201229日聯名致函給歐巴馬總統的信件中,就歐巴馬政府最近的發言及動作,透露出對台總統大選沒有維持中立立場一事表達失望。

聯名信函中列舉數例,包括20119月來自白宮匿名官員對金融時報的發言、從20119月到12月美國數位高階官員陸續訪台,以及在大選的不到一個月前,美國國務院宣布台灣擁有「免簽證計畫」的候選國資格。

信件中指出,「您的政府在一個政治敏感的時機,採取這一系列的聲明及動作,使得無論在美國及台灣的政治觀察家,皆一致認為美國政府偏好台灣現任政府再度連任。」

他們並補充:身為在台灣出生的美國公民,以移民身分來到美國後,才學習到珍惜自由及公民權的我們,景仰美國為民主自治的榜樣。因此,我們對美國偏袒別國民主選舉中的一方,違背自己的立國原則,感到痛心。

他們於信末表示:「我們強烈地呼籲您,維護台灣23百萬人民自決的權利,並制定一個支持台灣人民有決定自己未來權利的台灣政策。

台灣人公共事務會會長高龍榮就聯名信函表示:「美國政府在很多場合上皆清楚表示過,將在這些選舉中謹慎地維持中立。但是,即使有這些保證,歐巴馬政府在選舉前夕所採取的動作,最終還是給人不同的印象,並對台灣政治現況造成了來自外在的壓力。」

他並指出: 「身為美國公民的台美人,我們深深關切我們出生之地的民主,並認為美國必須要更加支持我們得來不易的民主,而不是損害它。暗中在這次選舉選邊站的歐巴馬政府,已對台灣的民主造成傷害。」

他最後表示:「如果美國想要支持在東亞的民主,她就必須確保台灣人民在選擇國家未來一事上,享有完全的自由,不受外力干擾。唯有中國將台灣視為友善的鄰居,並停止其不公義的領土宣有行為及武力威脅,才能維持區域的穩定。」

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February 10, 2012

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As the presidents of organizations representing American citizens deeply concerned about the state of democracy in Taiwan, we write to you to express our collective disappointment with recent statements and actions by your administration that we feel represented lapses in the political neutrality of the United States government with regard to the recently concluded national elections in Taiwan.

On January 14, 2012, the people of Taiwan went to the polls in only the fifth presidential election in that country’s history.  Despite multiple assurances from the State Department that the U.S. would work with whoever is elected through a fair and open democratic process, the actions of your administration in the weeks and months leading up to the election imparted a decidedly different impression.

In mid-September of last year, only hours after the Taiwanese opposition candidate Dr. Tsai Ing-wen met with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., a senior member of your administration saw fit to publicly pass judgment on her policy platform, anonymously telling the Financial Times: “”She left us with distinct doubts about whether she is both willing and able to continue the stability in cross-Strait relations the region has enjoyed in recent years.”” Though the State Department quickly disavowed the statement, this unusual breach of confidence left the lingering suspicions that the sentiments expressed by the unnamed source indeed represented the views of the White House.

Then, in a span of three short months, we saw a quick succession of more visits by high-level U.S. officials to Taipei than during any calendar year in recent memory.  In September, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Suresh Kumar visited Taiwan.  In December Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, also made an official visit to Taiwan.  This was followed closely by the visit, also in December, by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, who became the highest-ranking American official to go to Taiwan in nearly a decade.  The atypical pace and high profile of these visits, in the midst of an intensely competitive election campaign in Taiwan, only engendered further doubts about the U.S.’s professed neutrality.

Finally, on December 21, 2011, less than one month before the January 14 election, the U.S. State Department announced Taiwan’s candidacy for participation in the Visa Waiver Program.

This series of statements and actions by your administration during a politically sensitive time led virtually all observers, American and Taiwanese alike, to reach the unavoidable conclusion that the U.S. government preferred the re-election of the incumbent administration in Taipei.

As Taiwan-born American citizens who learned to cherish liberty and civil rights after we came to this country as immigrants, our community has long looked up to the United States as a model for democratic self-governance.  It therefore pains us to see the U.S. act contrary to its own founding principles by choosing sides in another nation’s democratic elections.  It is even more distressing that the apparent rationale behind the American preference seems so neatly aligned with the “”instability”” discourse which has been central to the rhetoric of fear deployed by the People’s Republic of China to undermine genuine open political competition in Taiwan.

While it will be impossible to know whether these signals of U.S. partiality exerted decisive influence on the electoral outcome, they nevertheless constitute an external distortion of the political playing field in a still-young democracy that frustrated the opportunity of Taiwan’s voters to exercise their democratic choice free from outside interference.

In your address at the State Department on May 19, 2011 you said: “”There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination.””  We therefore strongly appeal to you to protect the right of self-determination for the 23 million people of Taiwan, and to work toward a Taiwan policy that supports the right of the people of Taiwan to decide their own political future.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Wang Kang-Lu Memorial Foundation

Formosan Association for Human Rights

Formosan Association for Public Affairs

North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association

North America Taiwanese Women’s Association

North American Taiwanese Engineers’ Association

Professor Chen Wen-Chen Memorial Foundation

Taiwan Hakka Association of Public Affairs in N. America

Taiwanese Association of America

World Federation of Taiwanese Associations

World Taiwanese Congress

World United Formosans for Independence – USA

(February 10, 2012) Taiwanese-Americans Protest U.S.’ Stance On Taiwan’s Presidential Elections / 台美人對美國在台總統大選選邊站表示抗議