Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Price Taiwan Pays for US Vow of ; GOP Senators Chafe at Restrictions on Taipei, as Public View of China Hardens

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Price Taiwan Pays for US Vow of ; GOP Senators Chafe at Restrictions on Taipei, as Public View of China Hardens

Article excerpt

President Bush has pledged to do "whatever it took" to defend Taiwan if that thriving island democracy were attacked by China. Yet critics say the United States continues to treat Taiwan in a shabby and embarrassing manner.

A just-released study by the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cites numerous examples of what it calls "petty and humiliating restrictions" that the US puts on Taiwan.

The constraints are all the more notable, analysts say, since American troops may someday be required to defend Taiwan's 23 million people against a military attack by China.

The restrictions are just one aspect of America's tangled relationships with Taiwan and China, under new scrutiny after China refused to quickly return a top secret US EP-3E reconnaissance aircraft that made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island.

China has now agreed to let the US inspect the plane, a Chinese news agency reported yesterday. The agency also said the US has agreed to consider making a payment to China.

In his weekly radio broadcast on Saturday, Mr. Bush described US- China relations as "maturing" and conceded: "There will be areas where we can agree, like trade; and areas where we won't agree - Taiwan, human rights, religious liberty."

The White House let it be known that despite such areas of dispute, the president plans to go ahead with his scheduled trip to China in October.

Yet the growing restiveness in Congress over China's actions, including its aggressive buildup of ballistic missiles along the Taiwan Strait, prompted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to reexamine Taiwan's precarious status and the US role there. The staff report also questioned the unusual restrictions the US places on Taiwan, such as:

* Requiring Taiwan military personnel to wear only civilian clothing while training in the US.

* Forbidding Taiwan diplomats to fly their flag over their official building in Washington.

* Refusing to grant access for Taiwan's military to US submarines even though military personnel from communist China were permitted aboard.

* Prohibiting any US official to set foot on Twin Oaks, the Taiwan government's historic estate in northwest Washington.

* Forbidding Taiwan diplomats to use official diplomatic license plates in the US and calling its top official here "representative," not "ambassador."

There are other examples as well. For example, Taiwan Representative Chien Jen Chen says, "the State Department is still off limits. So we have to meet our friends from the State Department in neutral ground."

The limitations placed on Taiwan diplomats was one of the topics raised by several American reporters during a recent two-hour luncheon with Representative Chen at Twin Oaks. …

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