Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tancredo Blasts State

Kudos to Congressman Tom Tancredo, who launched a blast at the State Department for its hypocrisy and overreaction:


Tancredo Slams State Department for Negroponte Comments, Failure to Follow Law, Hypocrisy on Taiwan

Urges Bush Administration to Support Freedom and Democracy Instead of Acting as China’s "Bag Man"

(WASHINGTON, DC) – U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo released the following letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, criticizing the administration for pandering to China and failing to manage U.S.-Taiwan relations in an evenhanded or effective way:

Dear Secretary Rice,

I was disappointed to read Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte’s comments earlier this week criticizing a proposed referendum that will be held in Taiwan next year. Unfortunately, I believe that his statements were just the latest example of this administrations total mishandling of our bilateral relationship with Taiwan.

Mr. Negroponte told a Hong Kong-based media outlet on Monday that Taiwan’s efforts to hold a democratic plebiscite would constitute a move "towards a declaration of independence of Taiwan." Mr. Negroponte’s decision to parrot this phrase (a phrase used often by the Chinese government) was both regrettable and irresponsible. Not surprisingly, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman immediately “took note” of and "applauded" this reckless comment, as it supports precisely the kind of justification the Chinese are searching for to invoke Article 8 of the so-called anti-secession law and take military action against Taiwan. If Mr. Negroponte’s goal was to help validate a future Chinese attack on the island, then he most certainly succeeded.

Mr. Negroponte also insinuated that President Chen violated his commitment to the so-called “Five No’s,” telling Phoenix TV that “President Chen has made commitments to the American President, to the international community, and to the people of Taiwan not to take any kind of steps that would represent a unilateral alteration of the status quo, such as a change in the official name of Taiwan.”

Putting aside for a moment the irony that a State Department official would express discomfort with the idea that someone might refer to “Taiwan” as “Taiwan” (after all, the State Department’s own guidelines direct executive branch officials to refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan,” and our de facto embassy on island is called the “American Institute in Taiwan”), the statement was, at best, a half-truth. Like many at the State Department, Mr. Negroponte seems to suffer from a case of selective hearing when it comes to what President Chen actually said in his first inaugural speech. This is disappointing but not surprising, as the department has repeatedly and pathologically mischaracterized President Chen’s “Five No’s” commitment over the last several years.

To refresh your memory, President Chen’s exact words were:

"[A]s long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push forth the inclusion of the so-called "state-to-state" description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to change the status quo in regards to the question of independence or unification."

Time and time again, the Department fails to mention the fact that President Chen’s "Five No’s" were contingent on the Chinese government not threatening to use force against the island. Last year, when I pointed this out to Ambassador Zoellick during a House International Relations Committee hearing, he told me that President Chen had never included any such caveat – despite the fact that I was holding a copy of President Chen’s speech in my hand at the time.

In 2005, the Chinese government explicitly threatened to use force when it passed the so-called “anti-secession law.” So why is it that the Department continues to leave this rather important detail out whenever they reference President Chen’s promises?

It is also frustrating that the Department seems unable to address China and Taiwan in an evenhanded way when it comes to cross-strait developments. While the administration is fond of saying it opposes "unilateral moves by either side to change the status-quo," in practice State Department officials seem to reserve harsh rebukes only for actions taken by the democratically elected government in Taiwan.

For example the department was vehement in criticizing President Chen’s recent efforts to rename a few businesses on the island as a "move toward independence." Compare the State Department’s reaction to this relatively trivial initiative (which even the State Department admitted was “administrative” in nature) to that of China’s adoption of the “anti-secession law” in 2005. Without question, this act (unlike President Chen’s name rectification efforts) constituted a very real change in the "status quo." And yet the strongest and most direct rebuke to China that Richard Boucher could muster after its passage was "[W]e think it’s important for both sides to focus on dialogue." The best then-White House spokesman Scott McClellan could do at the time was to characterize the law as "unfortunate” and “unhelpful." And what about China’s ongoing missile buildup opposite Taiwan on its southeastern coast? Why does the Department not speak out more frequently and forcefully about this change in the status-quo?

I am also disappointed with the handling of President Chen’s recent transit requests. State has made it increasingly difficult for senior Taiwanese leaders to visit the United States, despite the plain wording of Public Law 103-416 which explicitly states that the President of Taiwan "shall be admitted" to the United States for discussion with federal and state officials. Why does the Department continue to ignore this law and circumvent the intent of Congress by preventing President Chen from visiting the lower 48 states, instead relegating him to only short transits in far-flung places like Alaska and Guam? Does the department view the law as simply a suggestion? It is also important to note that State’s treatment of President Chen’s requests in this restrictive manner serves to further shrink Taiwan’s international breathing space – which directly contradicts the Department’s stated policy of assisting Taiwan in obtaining “meaningful participation” in the international arena.

Finally, I do not understand why the Department has expressed so much discomfort with Taiwan’s United Nations initiative. Characterizing the effort as some kind of change in the “status-quo” is quite a stretch when one considers that Taiwan has attempted to join the UN nearly every year since 1993. None of the islands previous attempts to join the world body have prompted the kind of denunciations we now hear from folks like Mr. Negroponte. Why? Is it because this time President Chen has demonstrated the temerity to put the question to his people in a democratic referendum?

The State Department has been quick to reference promises that President Chen made in his inaugural speech lately, so I would like to take this opportunity to reference a promise that President Bush made in one of his. In his second inaugural, President Bush boldly told the world "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand for you."

Secretary Rice, Taiwan is standing for its freedom. Its people should be applauded, not chastised, for exercising the rights and freedoms that they have earned during their long journey from dictatorship to democracy. I sincerely hope that America will stand with the people of democratic Taiwan, as President Bush promised we would – rather than standing with their oppressors in Beijing.

I look forward to your reply.


Tom Tancredo, M.C.


This is what we need -- Congress to exercise some oversight of State. Excellent, points, many of which have been made right here on this blog. My thanks, and the thanks of all who care about our island, go out to Congressman Tancredo.


MJ Klein said...

all i can say is "WOW." Tancredo is nobody's yes man, that's for sure. clearly he's a The View From Taiwan reader!

Scott said...

Glad you posted this Michael. I hadn't seen it before you posted. I love it when pols decide to put aside their flimsy fence-sitting ways and call it like they see it.

Even if they aren't right (although Tanc is here) at least it opens the door for dialog... and progress.

Raj said...

Good comments by the Congressman. He needs to say it as often as he can and get as many of his colleagues repeating the same story in Congress and in the media.

Anonymous said...

Even a broken clock like Tancredo has to be right sometime.

skiingkow said...


In his second inaugural, President Bush boldly told the world "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand for you."

Of course, this is the great American Myth -- now tragically being exposed again in Iraq. The U.S. does not stand with countries who stand for "liberty". The U.S. stands for it's own hegemonic self-interests.


Runsun said...

Thx for pointing to the excellent letter of Tancredo.

Eli said...

I just saw this at dailykos:

Anonymous said...

this is excellent. i can't say im always a big tancredo fan, but this was very well-written and persuasive.

Anonymous said...

this is an excellent, well reasoned letter! wish we had more of these!

I'd like to reproduce part of this blog post with your permission Michael, if you don't mind.