Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Official for Taiwan Fired, Cites Corruption

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Official for Taiwan Fired, Cites Corruption

Article excerpt

On his last day in office, Secretary of State Warren Christopher dismissed James Wood, an Arkansas Democrat, as chief U.S. representative for Taiwan, just 13 months after he took office.

Since the United States does not recognize Taiwan, the representative is the highest U.S. official involved with the country.

Wood said he was given 90 minutes to draft a resignation letter. Locks to his office were changed immediately afterward. On Sunday, an embittered Wood stood before reporters and pronounced his career in ruins, partly the result of what he said were false accusations that he used his position to solicit contributions for President Bill Clinton's re-election campaign. Expanding on a statement that he faxed to news organizations Saturday, Wood said he was victimized by efforts to detail corruption and fraud that occurred at the office before he was named to head it. Beyond this "horrific taxpayer ripoff," he said, were "the worst sort of inhumane sex scandals" in which Taiwanese women seeking visas were forced to have sex with a visa office employee or have their requests denied. He did not name the employee. Wood's official title was chairman of the board and managing director of the American Institute on Taiwan. The institute was established in 1979 after the United States ended formal ties with the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan and opened diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. With offices in suburban Virginia, Wood directed U.S. relations with Taiwan, often traveling to the island for consultations. En route to China with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Nicholas Burns, chief State Department spokesman, declined to respond to Wood's allegations. "Mr. Wood was asked to resign," Burns said. "I understand he is currently under investigation." State Department officials said they understood Wood took documents when he left to bolster his claim that he wanted to end corruption. (begin THREE STAR text) At the news conference, Wood said he was angered by news reports in recent months suggesting that he had solicited contributions for Clinton's re-election campaign from Taiwanese business interests. …

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