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Press Release

Departure Statement of Representative Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY) Chairman of the Committee on International Relations in the U.S. House of Representatives

PR9941E | Date: 1999-08-10

We are pleased to note that our visit to Taiwan has been, we consider, a very successful visit. We've had full and productive conferences and we welcomed the opportunity to share views with some of Taiwan's most senior officials. We're grateful for their candid expressions and thinking on all of the important issues confronting Taiwan at this time. We are especially grateful for the warm hospitality that has been extended to us by the people of Taiwan.

We've had good meetings with President Lee, Vice President Lien, National Security Council Secretary General Yin, Defense Minister Tang, Acting Foreign Minister Lee, Chairman Su of the Mainland Affairs Council, and Chairman Lin of the DPP. We were warmly received by all. Our extensive discussions we feel were highly productive and they also helped us and enhanced our understanding of President Lee's decision on cross-Strait relations and Taiwan's hopes for the future.

We expressed our nation's abiding interest in peace and stability in East Asia and for the peaceful resolution of Taiwan's future. We expressed our concern about Chinese "saber rattling" over President Lee's state-to-state remarks and its effect on the confidence and security-building in the region. As we leave Taiwan, we are calling upon the PRC to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

Furthermore, recognizing that Taiwan is governed by a democratically-elected president, we strongly support President Lee's right to address Taipei's views of the cross-Strait relationship. It is our view that the two sides should engage in a dialogue as equals.

To this end, we believe that talks with Beijing should proceed at a pace and scope that is supported by all of the citizens of Taiwan. As a democracy, any change in Taiwan's status should come only with the consent of the people of Taiwan. President Lee should not feel pressured to negotiate until China is a democracy, to negotiate a reunification until such time.

We also expressed our belief that Taiwan should have better international representation in international bodies and be recognized in those bodies. The 22 million people of Taiwan deserve this fundamental right no less than any other global citizen.

Finally, we hope that our visit has in some way strengthened our long-standing bonds of friendship between the United States and Taiwan - a relationship which is based on our shared commitment to democracy, to freedom, to respect for human rights and for a market economy.