|Ros-Lehtinen: “Taiwan remains a great beacon of democracy in East Asia"|
It is reassuring to note that the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee again has a chairman, who understands the importance of democratic Taiwan. Republican chairman/chairperson Ileana Ros-Lehtinen last Saturday gave a wide ranging speech on Taiwan in Los Angeles. The US based Formosa Foundation executive director Terri Giles said Ros-Lehtinen´s speech was "the most pro-Taiwan speech of any major Washington politician in a decade".
The Taipei Times reports:
US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, has warned China not to interfere in Taiwan’s presidential election and promised to support Taiwan’s democracy in every way she can.
In a wide ranging speech -delivered in Los Angeles on Saturday, Ros-Lehtinen called on US President Barack Obama to sell F-16C/D aircraft to Taipei and to work to improve relations with Taiwan.
“Taiwan remains a great beacon of democracy in East Asia and an important strategic ally in a key region of the world,” she said.
Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, was addressing a crowd of mostly Taiwanese-Americans at an event organized by the Los Angeles based Formosa Foundation.
She has organized a hearing before the full Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday to investigate the state of US-Taiwan relations and the future of Taiwan’s democracy.
“This is the first such hearing on Taiwan in seven years, but under my chairmanship, it won’t be the last,” she said.
“One of the reasons we will be holding this hearing is that I am deeply concerned for Taiwan’s future, as it tries to cope with a rising China,” she said.
“I am also increasingly troubled about recent trends in US-Taiwan relations, trends which suggest, as one academic writes; ‘a marked decline in US support for the island’s freedom of action.’ Let me make one thing clear: I support the Taiwanese people and their democracy,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“Early next year, Taiwan goes to the polls to vote for both a president and a legislature. It’s an important election and should be free from outside interference or coercion,” she said. “Beijing needs to stay out of this election. China must not repeat the bullying of the 1996 election, when it sought to intimidate by launching missiles on Taiwan’s election eve.”
“Tragically, Taiwan appears to have become an afterthought in the Obama administration’s larger aims of engagement with Asia and the Pacific,” Ros-Lehtinen said.