- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2000

Taiwan remains ready to talk with China

The Oct. 23 article "Chinese prepare for war with U.S." indicates that some hard-liners in Beijing expect that war with Taiwan is inevitable and that mainland China must build up its military strength because such a conflict would undoubtedly involve the United States. Mainland China's recently released defense policy report describes the situation across the Taiwan Strait as "complicated and grim." More significantly, it says "China will adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force" if Taiwan formally splits from China or continues indefinitely to refuse to negotiate unification.

It is true that tensions exist, and at times have intensified, between Taiwan and mainland China. I must point out, however, that these tensions will not ease until cross-strait dialogue is resumed and Beijing renounces the use of force against Taiwan.

Taiwan has never walked away from the negotiation table. In his inaugural address and on numerous occasions since taking office, President Chen Shui-bian has proposed that the two sides resume talks that were unilaterally suspended by Beijing in 1997. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel on Oct. 16, Mr. Chen even went so far as to say that he is "willing to work out with the other side a definition of the expression 'one China,' " as long as all talks do not face preconditions and are based on equality, democracy and mutual respect.

Taiwan's government has repeatedly extended olive branches such as this to Beijing and called for a response with some concrete demonstration of good will. Nonetheless, an intransigent Beijing has insisted that Taipei agree to Beijing's interpretation of the "one China" principle before any talks can be resumed. The democratically elected government on Taiwan cannot conceivably go against the will of its people and accept a communist rule.

The only sensible way to break this stalemate is to allow the kind of discussion that can create opportunities for reconciliation.

Mr. Chen recently reiterated his hope, in an interview with the Far Eastern Economic Review, that "everyone can show wisdom and creativity in trying to define one China in a way that is acceptable to people on both sides of the strait… . If we set aside differences and sit down for dialogue and exchange, we will find opportunities to draw closer and close the gap."

Only when the two sides are able to sit down with each other on equal terms will there be an opportunity to truly reduce cross-strait tensions.

ERIC C.C. CHIANG

Director

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States

Washington

Bush's credentials nothing to deride

I fail to understand how Democrats can question Texas Gov. George W. Bush's preparedness for the presidency in light of the fact President Clinton had less experience when he was elected in 1992.

If, as the Clinton-Gore administration have suggested, Mr. Bush's experience is inadequate, both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt were not presidential timbre either.

And since when did the vice presidency become any more than a symbol of uselessness? When was the last time you heard a vice president wax poetic on the challenges of his office?

Seems to me the only thing that Al Gore learned as vice president to prepare him for the presidency was how to lie better.

PETER FUSCO

Schenectady, N.Y.

Gun control gives government too much power

As usual, The Washington Times hits the nail on the head regarding Vice President Al Gore's abiding contempt for the rights and freedoms of the American people. This is demonstrated by his open hostility to private firearms ownership ("Issues: Gun control," Editorials, Oct. 24).

Your excellent editorial did not delve into the reason why Mr. Gore et al. try to portray the Second Amendment as implying something other than it plainly says. The answer is one word: power.

Liberals are obsessed with power and controlling every minute facet of the lives of all citizens. The democratic underpinnings of our society thwart their goal of absolute control, so the rights themselves must be undermined.

The most prominent elements of Mr. Gore's strategy to overcome the Constitution in pursuit of statism are to destroy private property rights and national sovereignty through environmental hectoring, while eliminating the means for citizens to resist government oppression by eliminating firearms ownership. Once self-defense is gone, we will no longer have any rights, only privileges. Once citizens cannot resist their own government, the government is free to decide which rights we have or don't have. That is why every gun-control proposal put forth by Gore and Co. is focused almost exclusively on law-abiding citizens.

Crime is a transparent red herring for the Gore clan's ultimate goal of complete confiscation of all firearms as has been done in Great Britain, Canada and Australia. The verbal gymnastics and blatant lies required to scare the public into incrementally accepting these fundamental changes in our society require astounding hubris and utter contempt for the intelligence of the average citizen but these qualities have been Mr. Gore's trademarks for decades.

Catchy but meaningless labels such as "assault weapons," "Saturday night specials," "cop-killer bullets," "plastic guns," etc. have been used as a disguise for outlawing whole classes of firearms.

The ultimate objective is obvious. That gun haters know they must lie is revealing.

STEPHEN J. HATCH

Centreville

Army clarifies status of Forest Glen land

I would like to respond to the feature "Paradise lost: Neglected school stands at brink of change" (Washington Weekend magazine, Oct. 26), which was about the National Park Seminary Historic District that is part of the Forest Glen Annex at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Silver Spring.

Your reporter requested that Walter Reed's Public Affairs office help in getting some of the information for this article. We provided copies of most of our historic files on the seminary property and answered the two questions asked the current status of the property and how the Army got the property during World War II.

Unfortunately, neither answer was used in the article. Therefore, I would like to clarify two important things about the seminary property: How the Army acquired the property during the war and the current status of the property.

The article says the Army took over the school and auctioned off most of the furnishings, including 400 Chippendale chairs. This implied the Army came in and took over the property by force, got the land for nothing, sold treasured parts of the property and then kept the money. An important detail is missing here the Army paid $890,000 for the property 140 acres and all the structures on it. The seminary property was acquired and paid for by the Army in 1942 under the War Powers Act to expand medical facilities for use during the war. Although this was an emergency situation during wartime, the Army still paid for the property.

The article also fails to mention what the Army was doing about the property or the current status of the property: The Army plans to report the National Park Seminary Historic District as excess property to the General Services Administration (GSA).

This reporting process involves transmitting an official Report of Excess to GSA. The draft report is currently undergoing internal review at the Department of the Army. After the review process is completed, the Army's reporting of the property as excess will signal GSA to begin the screening, marketing and disposal process of the property. Under federal property law, GSA is responsible for disposal of excess federal property.

There is a lot of public interest in the seminary property, and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify these points.

BEVERLY CHIDEL

Director

Public Affairs

Walter Reed Army Medical Center

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