JINSA’s Taiwan Trip
Led by Chairman of the Board Jon Kislak and Advisory Board Member Dr. Stephen Bryen, a JINSA delegation visited Taiwan in early February. The group, including four retired Flag and General Officers, met with President Chen Shui-ban, Vice President Annette Lu, the Foreign and Defense Ministers, Chief of Intelligence and Minister for Mainland Affairs. They visited a naval base, an industrial complex and two research institutes. Sen.
Led by Chairman of the Board Jon Kislak and Advisory Board Member Dr. Stephen Bryen, a JINSA delegation visited Taiwan in early February. The group, including four retired Flag and General Officers, met with President Chen Shui-ban, Vice President Annette Lu, the Foreign and Defense Ministers, Chief of Intelligence and Minister for Mainland Affairs. They visited a naval base, an industrial complex and two research institutes. Sen. Parris Chang, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Taiwanese Legislative Yuan, hosted the delegation.
The Taiwanese were most concerned about the position of the new administration toward Taiwan and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), and the growth in the PRC’s missile capabilities. In both respects, they expressed hope that April’s annual Taiwan-U.S. security talks would result in U.S. approval for an Aegis – equipped warship, which could be expected to be delivered in eight to ten years. Approval of the Aegis, they said, would be a “symbolic commitment” of American concern.
The JINSA delegation suggested a practical approach to the security issues. Stressing that the Bush Administration had been in office for less than three weeks, it could not be expected to show a full agenda on Taiwanese issues. However, the U.S. commitment to missile defenses, plus Mr. Bush’s description of China as a “strategic competitor” to the United States rather than a “strategic partner,” could be indications of a strengthened commitment to security in the Pacific region.
The JINSA delegation encouraged the Taiwanese to think broadly about the American commitment to Taiwan, rather than focusing primarily on one system. Training and security cooperation for example, could be important. Taiwanese democracy, and its commitment to human rights, civil liberties and a free market are all strong bases for U.S. support, they said. “Look for areas in which the United States can say, ‘yes’ to Taiwan.”
One area of intense irritation to the Taiwanese was that of travel restrictions on diplomats in the U.S. The President and Foreign Minister cannot visit at all, and military delegations are heavily restricted. Vice President Lu, in transit in San Francisco on a visit to Central America, had plans to meet privately with entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley. However, the meetings were canceled after the (Clinton Administration) State Department told the businessmen it was “inappropriate.” The JINSA delegation agreed that travel restrictions should be lifted, particularly since Taiwan is a democracy, even if the United States does not have diplomatic relations with it.
“Yasser Arafat and Gerry Adams (of the IRA) can visit the White House,” said one JINSA participant, “But Annette Lu, who spent six years in prison for advocating democracy in her own country, can’t meet with business men in the U.S. We can do better than that.” Further details of the JINSA trip to Taiwan will appear in future JINSA Reports.