- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 1, 2004

Taiwan homecoming

After three diplomatic tours in Washington over 20 years, C.J. Chen is finally going home to Taiwan, probably to write his memoirs.

Mr. Chen, Taiwan’s virtual ambassador to the United States, lived through the ups and downs of U.S. relations with his island, formally known as the Republic of China.

“Will I miss Washington? Yes and no,” he told editors and reporters at a farewell luncheon at Taiwan’s elegant Twin Oaks mansion in Northwest.

“I relish my experience here. I have lots of friends on Capitol Hill, in the administration, in the think tanks. This is the greatest capital of a great nation.”

However, he is looking forward to retirement and writing about his 37 years in Taiwan’s foreign service.

When he first came to Washington as a junior diplomat in May 1971, the United States still recognized Taiwan as the only government of China. However, two months later, President Nixon held a press conference to announce that Henry Kissinger, national security adviser, was traveling to communist China.

U.S.-Taiwanese relations were about to change dramatically. When Mr. Chen left in 1980, Taiwan was no longer the only China in Washington’s eyes.

In October 1979, the United Nations expelled Taiwan and gave the seat to Beijing. The Nixon administration had supported the admission of China but objected to the expulsion of Taiwan.

Mr. Nixon visited China the following year. President Carter recognized China and cut ties with Taiwan. However, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 to maintain informal diplomatic relations.

Mr. Chen returned to Washington in 1982 during the Reagan administration and stayed for seven years as the deputy chief of mission.

“President Reagan was always very nice to us. He always seated us next [to] him at some functions,” he said. “He was such a good friend. We always felt comfortable with him.”

Mr. Chen last saw Mr. Reagan in 1993 when he led a legislative delegation to Los Angeles. They met at the Central Plaza Hotel for about 45 minutes, and the former president posed with each of the visiting legislators for photos.

Mr. Chen, who is leaving this month after his final tour of four years, has been pleased with the reception from the Bush administration, especially when the president restated pledges to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression.

Mr. Chen’s final weeks in Washington have been filled with testimonials to his service. George Washington University presented him with its highest honor, the President’s Medal.

Members of Congress held tributes. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who helped draft the Taiwan act, praised Mr. Chen as one of Washington’s “most outstanding diplomats.”

Encourage Turkmens

The U.S. ambassador to the authoritarian state of Turkmenistan thinks the best way to promote human rights in the former Soviet republic is through “engagement rather than isolation.”

Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson said she regularly raises human rights issues in meetings with Turkmen officials and has noticed some modest improvements.

“We believe engagement, rather than isolation, is the best way to encourage positive development,” she told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

State Department human rights reports regularly criticize President Saparmurat Niyazov for violations of political and religious rights, censorship of the press and restrictions on foreign travel by Turkmen citizens.

However, Mr. Niyazov, who often is called “president for life,” has eased some visa measures to allow Turkmens more freedom to leave the country.

“As we expand this cooperation, we also see some improvements in the area of human rights, such as the elimination of exit visas and the beginning of registration of religious groups,” Mrs. Jacobson said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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