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Joint statement calling for the reform of the detention system, implementation of human rights in the administration of justice and an immediate end to the detention of former President Chen Shui-bian

June 27, 2009

We firmly believe that an independent, impartial judiciary is fundamental to the rule of law for any democratic country. The legal responsibility for anyone in the justice system must be determined through a fair procedure, without any prejudice. Only then will decisions made by the courts have any credibility in society.

 

Looking at our current “detention system,” it is obvious that the prerequisites for detention are loose, and the period of each detention could last up to two months with the possibility of repeated extensions. This system has been abused to the extent that defendants are in actuality serving the penalty of incarceration prior to the trial. For a long time, this has caused irreparable damage to the personal freedom of defendants. Therefore, from a human rights perspective, there is an urgent necessity to launch a comprehensive reform and review of the shortcomings of the detention system. Since President Ma Ying-jeou has signed two international human rights conventions and related protocols, the administration should demonstrate its endorsement of human rights by the concrete action of implementing the spirit of those treaties in Taiwan’s domestic law.

 

We believe that human rights are priceless. To minimize the possible violation of human rights, judicial officials should be allowed to execute the power of detention only when the strictest prerequisites are met. Constitutional interpretation No. 653 by the Council of Grand Justices states the following: Detaining and placing restriction on the personal freedom of the defendant under criminal charge will isolate him/her from his/her family, society and career and have a detrimental impact on his/her personal rights, such as reputation and credibility. This is the most severe form of intervention regarding personal freedom, thus it should be used with extreme caution and only as the last resort for protecting the procedure. Unless all the prerequisites stipulated by law have been met to verify its necessity, detention must not be lightly exercised. However, the case of former President Chen has clearly illustrated that the legal rights of our former head of state have not been protected. This being so, how we can ever ensure that the rights of ordinary citizens will not be violated?

 

We believe that the court decisions to repeatedly detain President Chen are unreasonable and unnecessary, and have severely damaged the credibility of our judicial system. The court has listed several actions by President Chen as reasons to extend his detention, such as: “Denying his guilt, publishing books, accepting visits from foreign press, reapplying for membership in the Democratic Progressive Party, and not feeling well.” The court has also accused former President Chen of assaulting the justice system when he was simply exercising his litigation strategy of: “no confession, no plea, no summoning witnesses and cross-examinations.” These reasons cited by the court are irrelevant to the legal prerequisites for detention: flight risk, destruction of evidence, alteration or fabrication of evidence, or conspiracy with any accomplice or witness. Besides, there were clear violations of the principle of “gesetzlicher Richter (法官法訂原則)” regarding the changing of judges. (In this case, the Presiding Judge of the case Chou Chan-chun (周占春) was replaced in the middle of the trial by Tsai Shou-hsun (蔡守訓) and as soon as Tsai became Presiding Judge, he immediately reversed Chou’s original ruling that there was no longer a legal necessity to detain former President Chen, and announced the decision to extend his detention period.) These controversies have raised public doubts about the neutrality of the judiciary.

 

Indeed, President Chen has disappointed the society with his inability to handle the behavior of his family members, as well as his failure to manage separately his political contributions and his private property. His family members wired money abroad, thus failing his commitment to the people. However, no matter what verdict former President Chen receives or how history judges him, respecting his legal right to a fair trial should be fundamental value shared by our society. The mishandling of his case has highlighted the deficiencies of the system. The emotional likes or dislikes of the society toward the defendant should not be allowed to overwhelm our concerns about the system itself.

 

An independent and fair judicial system that is trusted by the public should be a source of strength for the judiciary. A fair trial of former President Chen will fortify Taiwan’s democracy. This long-term detention of President Chen has already created tremendous damage to the image and credibility of our judicial system. It has also created more divisions, confrontations and tensions within our society which will seriously endanger the development of Taiwan’s democracy.

 

Out of a need to cherish our democracy and protect justice, we call for the immediate release of former President Chen. The government should take immediate action to reform the detention system that has violated basic rights, as well as amend related laws, such as the Criminal Procedure Law. Before the laws are amended, the judiciary should execute its authority of detention with extreme caution to minimize the violation of the rights. We all hope that by starting from the point of protecting human rights, we will then promote judicial reform and thus the foundation of Taiwan’s democracy will be strengthened.

 

This joint statement was signed by a group of 10 lawyers, scholars, and civil right activists listed below: (in alphabetical order)

Dr. Chen Chien-Jen (陳建仁), Professor, National Taiwan University
Dr. Chen Hwei-Syin (陳惠馨), Dean, the College of Law, National Chengchi University
Dr. Chiu Hei-Yuan (瞿海源), Research Fellow, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica
Dr. Huang, Juei-Min (黃瑞明), Chairman, Judicial Reform Foundation
Dr. Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao (蕭新煌), Research Fellow,, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica
Lee Yuan-chen (李元貞), Founder, the Awakening Foundation
Dr. Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), former President, Academia Sinica
Wellington Koo (顧立雄), Chairman, Taiwan Bar Association
Dr. Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), Chairman, Citizen Congress Watch  
Dr. Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Chairperson, Democratic Progressive Party
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In support of China’s democratic reform: the DPP calls for the immediate release of Chinese democratic activist Liu Xiaobo

June 25, 2009

Today (6/24/09) the Democratic Progressive Party released the following statement regarding the arrest of well-known Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo:

Because of the publication of “Charter ’08”, China has detained well-known writer and democratic reform leader Liu Xiaobo for the past seven months. Now the Chinese government has gone even one step further, arresting him on charges of “incitement to subvert state power.”

We therefore solemnly call upon the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo immediately.

We believe that democracy, freedom and human rights are universal values. Governments must not violate these values. “Charter ’08” demanded that the Chinese government to implement the protection of human rights, launch democratic reform, and move forward on a democratic Constitution for the country.

The Chinese government should face up to these demands from the public for democratic reform in stead of suppress, try to control and use intimidation against the democratic reform movement members.

We wish to point out that last year, after the publication of “Charter ’08” and Liu Xiaobo’s detention, the Ma Administration has been silent about this and turned a blind eye to the Chinese government’s suppression of those associated with the democratic reform movement. In his statement regarding Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, President Ma Ying-jeou publicly affirmed the importance China gives to democracy and human rights. In doing so, not only did he make himself an accomplice of the Chinese government’s suppression of the democracy movement but he also sent the world the wrong message that Taiwan supports China’s action. This has greatly damaged Taiwan in the world community.

Taiwan’s efforts on preserving the important assets of democracy, freedom and human rights have been affirmed by international society. While the Ma Administration is aggressively moving forward with cross-strait exchanges, Ma not only does not make a good use of this advantage to support the democratization of China and let democracy and human rights become the common language in cross-strait affairs, but, rather, he becomes an accomplice of the Chinese government’s suppression on democracy and human rights. This is completely unacceptable.

Here, we solemnly request that the Ma Administration publicly calls upon the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and show its support to the Chinese democratic activists by concrete actions and clear declaration to the international community Taiwan’s firm stand for democracy and human rights as universal values.

Using Democracy To Protect Taiwan” is Our Only Choice

June 17, 2009
Open letter from DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen to Taiwan’s “citizen/masters:” 
Using Democracy To Protect Taiwan” is Our Only Choice   
June 16, 2009
We stand at the threshold of initiating a Taiwan referendum.   We face a high wall, but we must be people who have the courage to climb this high wall. We must not lose heart.
 
We need to get more than 80,000 initial sponsors to petition for this referendum, then 800,000 to support its being a ballot measure; and finally 8 million to vote on it in order to have it pass.  This is indeed the strictest, most constrained referendum system in the whole world, thanks to the KMT Legislative Yuan majority forcing such a product on us. The referendum we have was designed not to affirm the use of referenda but to block direct democracy.
 
So many people are asking: why is the Democratic Progressive Party launching this referendum petition?  Is it so necessary to demand that the government put the signing of an ECFA to a decision by a referendum?
 
There are three reasons.  First, no matter what the content of an ECFA might be, it will determine the economic integration of Taiwan and China and is bound to change the future fate of Taiwan.  This will have a vital, critical impact on our people and our children.  The power to decide something of this importance cannot be left solely in the hands of the president and a minority of the ruling class.  Otherwise the public benefits of citizens will be transferred into the private gain of this ruling group.
 
Second, if we are successful in this referendum, it sets as a principle that any major future cross-strait agreement must undergo a citizens’ referendum and not simply be done by the government.  Then the current “birdcage referendum” must be amended.  The legal responsibility to call a referendum could be re-granted to the Executive Branch.  Then, when the government wants to see a referendum pass, it would be willing to lower the high thresholds in the current referendum system. This would knock down this high wall we have now and allow citizens to have a more complete direct democracy.
 
Finally, the relationship of Taiwan and China is the source of the domestic political divisions.  The best way to resolve these disputes is through a democratic mechanism.  Each party has its own approach and there could be no better way than to let the people judge the parties and their approaches.  If the ruling group really is interested in selling out Taiwan, then only a democratic mechanism can serve to guard Taiwan as a last line of defense.  This is what the Democratic Progressive Party advocates by the principle of “Use Democracy to Protect Taiwan.”
 
The harsh reality is that it is extremely difficult to hurdle the high threshold for a referendum to pass.  But if we give up and do not challenge this reality, with the exception of taking to the streets or a legislative struggle, what other tool do we have to check the power of this party-state-rolled-into-one-China-leaning president?
 
 Referendum campaigns in Taiwan have not become a common political practice.  In fact there is something of a stigma attached to them.  However, this ECFA referendum has to be distinguished from past referenda.  First of all this will be the first Taiwan referendum campaign that will seek to be a check on Executive Branch power.  Facing the Ma Administration’s “lean-toward-China” policy, even though the DPP launched a full-scale parliamentary and street protest campaign we were not able to block the flow of Ma’s policy. So a referendum is the only choice we have left.  This is almost mortal combat – to show the power of the people to a government which ignores public opinion.
 
Another difference is that in the past the referenda were initiated by the government about the government’s policy agenda.  But this ECFA referendum agenda is 100% from the grassroots.  Signing an ECFA has stirred the hearts of people about workers’ rights, about the very survival of small and medium sized enterprises and about the threat to our agricultural sector.   This political agenda is a major source of controversy so the people are using the referendum to show that their choices are not the same as those of the government.   Thus it gives this referendum a very unique democratic meaning and implication.
 
 This is why, if we want this referendum to pass, we have to take a different approach than in the past.
 
Whether it is 1 million petitioners or 8 million voting, we will have to have people beyond the green-blue political lines participating.  So it is necessary that this time the referendum campaign take the shape of a society-wide one.  We are organizing 100,000 people to be a vanguard to get the petition drive started.  Once the Referendum Commission has accepted the petition as valid, this vanguard of 100,000 will use their network with each one garnering 10 voters so that we can get over the second hurdle in having a referendum put to all the people.
 
If this one million strong force brings others out to vote on the referendum then we have a chance to hurdle the high wall of this birdcage referendum.  This is a challenging task, even more daunting than getting 600,000 people out for our street demonstration of May 17th.  However, faced with a president and ruling party that pays no attention to the people, we must rise up united and show our great strength.
 
I can imagine that President Ma who will soon have total control of the KMT party, the government and the military, will not welcome this referendum which challenges his cross-strait policy.  There is no doubt that the KMT will again boycott this referendum even through the Referendum Review Committee under Executive Yuan.  However, as a democratically elected president, why would President Ma do this?  If President Ma’s policy does meet people’s interest, why is he afraid of a people’s referendum on his policy? If President Ma can support a referendum on whether to allow setting the casino in Taiwan and even authorize that this referendum to be exempted from the threshold requirements, why does he insist that there is no need for referendum on policy, like ECFA, that has much greater and long-term impact on our country?
In fact, President Ma should welcome the referendum on an ECFA as backing for his negotiations with China. If referendum becomes mandatory for an ECFA, Taiwan negotiators can take more a more confident and firm position when fighting for Taiwan’s best national interests instead of letting China have its way. Democracy is the most powerful weapon Taiwan has. If President Ma does not understand how to utilize this show of public opinion, than it indicates not that he lacks confidence in democracy but rather that he despises the true voice of the people.
 
I would like to invite every citizen/master of this country who has a heartfelt love of Taiwan to join our campaign.  Faced with a roaring countercurrent of authoritarianism in our politics and economic overdependence on China, join us in this last line of democratic defense of our land, our Taiwan!

DPP Poll on “Read traditional, Write simplified” and “Ma’s Party Chairman Role”

June 12, 2009

Yesterday, the Democatic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Public Opinion Survey Center released the newest survey results on the topics of “Read Traditional characters, Write Simplified” and Ma Ying-jeou’s decision to become the next Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman. This survey polled 708 individuals on the night of June 10th, with a confidence level of 95% and a sampling error of ±3.76%.

Center Director Chen Chunlin said that President Ma had made a series of recent moves that seriously antagonized the public, including concurrently holding the post of KMT chair, promoting “read traditional characters, write simplified characters”, and providing for personnel to get political rewards.  The result is a drop of 5 percentage points in his public support, with 54% of respondents unhappy with his administration.

Poll Information:
Date: June 10, 2009
Sample size: 708
Sampling error: 95% confidence level, the sampling error is about ± 3.76%
Survey Participants: Citizens over the age of 20 with right to vote
Selection: Machine selected phone numbers with the ending by twos
Weighted by: age, gender and household registration

  1. 75.6% of respondents stand opposed to: “President Ma Ying-jeou, in order to accelerate cross-strait cultural exchanges, intends to promote “read traditional, use simplified characters.” 17.1% were in favor.
    Even 67% of pan-blue supporters opposed the use of simplified Chinese characters.
  2. 51.2% of respondents think that the “read traditional, write simplified characters” is a preparation by President Ma for cross-strait unification, while 32.1% of people do not think so.
    76% of pan-green supporters believe that the use of simplified Chinese characters in writing is preparation for unification. 37% of pan-blue supporters have indicated similar sentiments while 50% disagree.
  3. 64.9% believe that President Ma Ying-jeou will lead Taiwan toward unification, and only 6.3% of people think he is moving toward independence.  28.8% have no opinion.
    Among pan-blue supporters and undecided voters 57% think President Ma Ying-jeou is leading Taiwan toward unification.
  4. 59.1% oppose President Ma Ying-jeou also being the KMT party chairman. 25% favor this development.
    Of the swing voters, 55% oppose Ma concurrently being chair and president.  19% favor this proposition.  Even pan-blue supporters have a higher percentage of opposing Ma’s Chairman position than agreeing (49% to 44%).
  5. 53.7% are not satisfied with President Ma Ying-jeou’s performance, with 39.4% satisfied. Of these, 88% of the pan-green supporters and 56% of the swing voters are not satisfied with the performance of President Ma Ying-jeou. 70% of pan-blue supporters are satisfied, 28% were dissatisfied.

Statement by Democratic Progressive Party Chair Tsai Ing-wen at the conference on “Tibet, June 4th, human rights and democracy in China.”

June 5, 2009

This is a very important year, as it is both the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and also the 20th anniversary of the June 4th Tiananmen event. The Democratic Progressive Party held this seminar with all those concerned about human rights and democracy issues to explore the status of Chinese democracy and human rights in Tibet because the development of China’s democracy and human rights will not only affect Taiwan but, over the next decade or two, will affect development and stability throughout Asia.

Fifty years ago, China tore up the “peace agreement” it had signed with Tibet, invaded Tibet, undertook a bloody suppression of the people and drove countless Tibetans into exile.  To this day the suppression of the Tibetan people continues under the Chinese government’s heavy hand.

Twenty years ago on June 4 the Chinese government responded with violence to the student call for democratic reforms.  To this day the Chinese government has never apologized for this tragedy.

In recent years China’s economy has grown by leaps and bounds, enhancing its national strength as it strives to join the great powers of the world.  However, many people forget the authoritarian nature of this regime. If we take a closer look at the major countries in Asia, and leading economies in the world, almost all of them are democratic countries and, if not fully democratic, at least have had political parties’ alternation of power.

However, since the end of the Second World War, we have yet to see signs of democratization of the Chinese government nor the possibility of political parties alternating power.  We remember the Tibetan uprising and the June 4th events and note that the Chinese government continues unhesitatingly its policy of internal repression of any pro-democracy movement.

As a matter of fact, Taiwan also suffered and has been the object of Chinese hegemonic suppression. Democratic Taiwan, on behalf of the human rights of Tibetans and the pro-democracy movement in China, cannot and must not shirk its moral responsibility.

Unfortunately, because it is so actively promoting exchanges with China, the Ma Administration thinks only of trade and economic matters and has no concern about democracy and human rights. This past year the Ma Administration turned a blind eye toward the Chinese government’s oppression of the Tibetan people and also publicly rejected the Dalai Lama’s request to visit Taiwan.

All this is tantamount to an acknowledgement before the whole world that the Taiwan government agrees with China’s suppression of the Tibetan people.  The Ma Administration has also not said a word about the Charter 08 members who have been arrested by the Chinese government and remain missing. President Ma also has made no mention of “seeking redress for the June 4th victims”, something he has talked about each year in the past.

“Democracy” and “human rights” are Taiwan’s values most respected by all the countries of the world. They are also the most commendable and Taiwan’s “comparative advantage’ vis-à-vis China.  Now, however, these have become taboo topics for the Ma government when dealing with China. Is this not the Ma government, in exchange for uncertain, short-term economic interests, unilaterally “disarming” and facing a heavy price to pay over the long run?

If today we do not talk about democracy and human rights with China, one day Taiwan’s own democracy and human rights may not be secure. We believe that future cross-strait exchanges and interaction should include discussions about democracy and human rights. We need to express solidarity with the Tibetan people as they resist China’s brutal suppression and we must support the efforts of pro-democracy activists to pursue democracy and human rights.

This is not only because democracy and human rights are universal values, but also because as long as China continues to deny democracy and human rights the results of any consultations between Taiwan and China are likely to be dangerous, fragile, and lacking any protections.  Only if there is democracy in China can the two sides find a common value system and thus there will be equality and normal exchanges between the two sides. If this condition is met, then and only then will Taiwan and China’s development not be in danger of turning upside down overnight.

Today, we are here to show our concern about human rights in Tibet and to commemorate the June 4th incident.  We want to express our concern about democratization in China.  Since democracy and human rights are the Taiwanese people’s most cherished values, Taiwan should help with the democratization of China.

So today we make this appeal:

First, the Ma government should call upon the Chinese government to stop oppression of the Tibetan people, respect the human rights of the Tibetans and their desire for autonomy.  The Ma government should also call upon the Chinese government to publish the truth of what happened last March 14th in Tibet.

Second, the Ma government should call upon the Chinese government to apologize for June 4, 1989, vindicate those involved in this movement and allow the students in exile to return to China as soon as possible.

Third, the Ma government should call upon the Chinese government to release the members of Charter 08 who have been arrested, like Liu Xiaobo.  China should not continue to suppress the basic human right of freedom of speech.

Fourth, the Ma government should include democracy and human rights in the list of topics of cross-strait exchanges, so that interaction between Taiwan and China is based on the universal values of human rights and democracy. This should be a prerequisite for normal cross-strait exchanges.

Even if the Ma government does not act on these important issues, the people of Taiwan must! The Democratic Progressive Party will work with all concerned about democracy and human rights, and working together our action will be positive and effective.  We will also work with the democratic movement in China to start a dialogue, exchange experiences, sharing Taiwan’s history and achievements in the pursuit of democracy and human rights.  By doing so, democracy and human rights will continue to grow in Taiwan; attention will be brought to the drive for human rights and freedom of choice in Tibet, as well as for the flowering of democracy and human rights in China.

May 20th Resolution on Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi

June 5, 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese champion of democracy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is now on trial and faces up to 5 years in prison on charges by Myanmar’s military junta that she violated the terms of her house arrest after an uninvited American man swam to her lakeside house in May.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party is the National League for Democracy (NLD).  The NLD’s overseas branch, the National League for Democracy – Liberated Areas (NLD-LA) and the Democratic Progressive Party are both members of the Liberal International, an international federation of liberal democratic parties.  

The NLD won a landside victory in the 1990 parliamentary elections, but the military junta refused to recognize the results and instead reacted with force, jailing and killing dissidents. Aung San Suu Kyi has been severely monitored for the past 19 years by the junta and has been under house arrest for 13 of these years. Her house arrest was due to expire on 27 May 2009, but the military junta extended her term for another year.

Throughout our decades of democratic development, Taiwan received support and assistance from the international community.  If Taiwan wants to be a member of the international community, we must play a more active role as world citizens promoting universal human rights and democratic values, synchronizing our efforts in solidarity with the international community to help Myanmar and other countries lagging in democratic development.

The DPP, a political party whose key ideals and values are democracy, freedom and human rights, passed this resolution on Burma at its Central Standing Committee meeting of 20th May in Taipei.

1. We urge the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma. We demand that Burma’s government provide for Aung San Suu Kyi’s urgent medical needs and allow her to receive immediate medical care from doctors.

2. We urge the Burmese government to push democratic reforms in Burma and respect people’s desire for democracy and freedom. The 2010 parliamentary elections should be held with freedom, fairness and transparency.

3. We demand that the Ma Ying-jeou administration keep its promise of making human rights a priority and make every effort to promote the universal values of democracy and freedom. Taiwan should play a role as the vanguard of Asian democracy and stand in solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi and the people who desire and advocate for democracy in Burma.

4. We urge the Taiwan government to address the issue of human rights violations in Burma and join the international appeal for support for the democracy movement in Burma. We urge our government to impose necessary sanctions against Burma until such time as the military regime improves its human rights record and works on democratic reforms.

5. We condemn China’s support for the Burmese military regime, support which results in negative consequences for democracy and stability in the East Asia region. Beijing’s act of consolidating its power and hegemony over the region, while disregarding universal values, contradicts its claim of  a ‘peaceful rise.’  We urge all countries engaging with China, including the Taiwan government, to recognize this.

Taipei Times: US congressman call for overhaul of Taiwan policy

May 21, 2009

Published on Taipei Times http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2009/05/21/2003444152

US congressman call for overhaul of Taiwan policy

NAVAL VISITS: Republican Representative Ed Royce told a conference at George Washington University that engagement with Taiwan is very important

By William Lowther STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON Thursday, May 21, 2009, Page 1

A leading US congressman has told a Washington conference that the administration of US President Barack Obama should rethink US policies toward Taiwan.

Republican Representative Ed Royce, a member of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Asia subcommittee, made a string of recommendations, including allowing US Navy vessels to visit Taiwanese ports.

His address to a George Washington University conference on “The Future of US-Taiwan Relations” came amid growing pressure from the US Congress for a full Taiwan policy review.

Senior Washington sources have told the Taipei Times that the White House is seriously considering such a move.

Royce said Congress was concerned that despite the many moves by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to improve relations with China, there had been no military “drawdown” by Beijing.

“In 2001 there were 250 missiles [aimed at Taiwan], I remember the briefings. Last time I checked there were 1,400 missiles and other batteries were still coming on line. In terms of security, America’s Asian partners fear that the US is an Asian power in decline,” he said.

“How Washington treats Taiwan will signal how Washington sees its role in the Pacific. And that’s another reason why I believe that engagement with Taiwan is very important. Taiwan faces one of the most complex and lethal military threats in the world,” he said.

Royce said the US would gain from increased intelligence sharing with Taiwan and urged Obama to make greater use of Taiwan’s linguistic and cultural advantages in the region.

He said the Asia-Pacific region had been marked by rapid trade liberalization, but that starting in the 1990s the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had warned Asian countries not to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with Taiwan.

“The numerous regional and global FTAs already in place … are steadily undermining Taiwan’s international competitiveness through trade and investment discrimination,” he said.

“There have been dramatic developments in Taiwan. We need to think about setting objectives. US officials can tick off their priorities when it comes to the People’s Republic of China, but when you ask them what are the priorities with respect to Taiwan, forget it. This is why we have to have a focus on rethinking our policy,” Royce said.

Royce was the first congressman since Ma came to power to propose a specific list of priorities.

“First, keep Taiwan honest to its democratic legacy. There’s always the chance of slipping in terms to commitment to freedom of speech. In any country, there is a tendency to try to stifle debate and shut down political opponents. This is wrong. If the government strays from its principles, it’s our responsibility as Americans to help the Taiwanese to stand up for free speech,” he said.

“We should revisit the Taiwan guidelines. The US needs to find ways to more openly engage Taiwan’s democratic leaders. The Taiwan guidelines are arcane and inappropriate for the type of relationship we have with Taiwan. They are 30 years old and to my knowledge they have only been modified once. It would make sense to review and adapt our policies. It is time to do this. China and Taiwan are much different today than they were then. Detente notwithstanding, the Taiwan Strait is a flash point. It is essential that US policy makers be able to directly communicate with the leaders of Taiwan. Restrictions on US-Taiwan contact are counter-productive. Not just that but they can also be dangerous,” he said.

“In terms of international organizations, the US should push for efforts to get Taiwan membership — full membership — in the World Health Organization. This week [participation in the World Health Assembly] marks a big step, but we shouldn’t be complacent. Why not welcome Taiwan to join other UN organizations? That’s the role we should take now,” he said.

“We should send a Cabinet member on a visit to Taipei. Disappointingly, no Bush Cabinet members visited Taiwan,” he said.

“In terms of a free trade agreement, one of the concerns in the past was intellectual property rights. But there has been tremendous advances in Taiwan on that issue.Taiwan’s entry into the WTO provides a framework for a FTA so let’s put together a roadmap for this shared goal,” he said.

“Port visits. I think that allowing US naval port visits to Taiwan is in order. China denied a port call for a US naval ship to Hong Kong. A ship that was in distress. We should let Beijing know that we have somewhere else to go,” he said.

“Similarly, the PRC has not joined the Proliferation Security Initiative. Why not enlist Taiwan’s help in stopping the proliferation of missile and nuclear technology that we are concerned about coming out of North Korea?” he said.

“If we want cross-strait detente to succeed, President Ma must deal from a position of strength. The US should be prepared to proceed with appropriate arms sales to Taiwan. The arms sales incentivize China to pursue political, not military, means to reconcile its differences with Taiwan,” Royce said.