China lobbies Senate
The Chinese ambassador is warning the Senate that a House-passed bill to increase U.S. military support for Taiwan threatens China’s security and increases the chance of war in the Taiwan Strait.
Ambassador Li Zhaoxing, in a letter to all 100 senators, called the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA) a threat to U.S.-Chinese relations.
“Congress should approach the Taiwan issue with extra caution,” Mr. Li wrote.
“Failure to do so may entail explosive developments and risk unraveling of what our two countries have worked so hard and so long to build.
“The last thing Congress can do, as I see it, is to make the ill-conceived and counterproductive TSEA into law.”
Mr. Li warned that provisions in the bill to provide more U.S. arms to Taiwan pose “a severe threat to China’s security, increases the chances of military confrontation in the Taiwan Strait and destabilizes the Asia-Pacific situation by emboldening the recalcitrant separatist forces on the island.”
Mr. Li complained that the bill “fans up a ‘China threat’ hysteria.”
“How can China-U.S. relations be expected to go forward … when such a threadbare Cold-War technique is put to use against a country that is concentrating on domestic economic development while seeking to build toward a constructive strategic partnership with the United States,” he wrote.
The bill, sponsored by Majority Whip Tom DeLay, passed the House Feb. 2 on a vote of 341-70. Mr. Li wrote his Senate letter two days later.
A spokesman for the Texas Republican dismissed the ambassador’s letter.
“Mr. DeLay doesn’t need recommendations from communist China,” said spokesman Jonathan Baron. “The great threat to U.S.-Chinese relations is the profound level of Chinese repression.”
In his Senate letter, Mr. Li blamed the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) for inspiring the Taiwan bill.
“It is the brainchild of the infamous FAPA, a locally registered pro-independence Taiwan lobby whose job is to get U.S. politicians as well as legislation to advance their separatist cause,” Mr. Li wrote.
FAPA President Chen Wen-yen, whose organization supplied a copy of the ambassador’s letter to Embassy Row yesterday, said the group is not a registered lobbyist but a private advocate of Taiwan independence.
“We are also proud of our role in gathering support for the TSEA,” Mr. Chen said in a statement.
Mr. Li’s warning to the Senate was sent before his exchange of letters with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, which were featured in Monday’s Embassy Row column.
The North Carolina Republican was angered by statements by Mr. Li’s deputy, Liu Xiaoming, who bluntly warned the House against passing the Taiwan bill.
Mr. Helms said he was “aghast” at Mr. Liu’s comments, which reflected the ambassador’s statements in his Senate letter.
Mr. Li defended his deputy and replied he was “quite baffled” by Mr. Helms’ “bombardment of attacks” against Mr. Liu.
Clinton taps careerists
President Clinton has gone to the ranks of career Foreign Service officers in his latest batch of nominations for ambassadorships.
He has tapped Christopher R. Hill, former ambassador to Macedonia and a special envoy during the Kosovo crisis, to be ambassador to Poland.
Donna Jean Hrinak, now ambassador to Bolivia, will be nominated as the new envoy to Venezuela. She served as ambassador to the Dominican Republic from 1994 to 1997.
Mr. Clinton selected Douglas Alan Hartwick as ambassador to Laos. He is a former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in the Central African Republic.
He has tapped John R. Dinger as ambassador to Mongolia. Mr. Dinger is now a minister counselor at the embassy in Japan. He has also served in South Africa, Brazil and Britain.
John Martin O’Keefe will be nominated to be ambassador to Kyrgyzstan. He has served in Russia, Yugoslavia, the Philippines and Norway.
Mr. Clinton selected Mary Ann Peters to be ambassador to Bangladesh. She is now deputy chief of mission in Canada and has served as deputy director of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh affairs.