WASHINGTON — Orange County Rep. Christopher Cox travels to Taiwan today to learn how the United States can further help the island defend itself against possible future aggression by the People's Republic of China.
Cox, who recently sponsored a congressional resolution warning Communist China not to use force against Taiwan, is to meet newly elected President Lee Teng-hui.
Tension escalated last month when China conducted military exercises and fired three unarmed missiles off the Taiwan coast over an 18-day period--a move perceived as China's effort to intimidate Taiwanese voters during their first fully democratic election March 24.
The move prompted the Cox resolution and the decision by the Clinton administration to send two aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Strait.
"When we meet with the president and the defense minister, we are going to talk about what [Taiwan] needs for its defense, as well as regional issues," said Cox, who is traveling with Sen. Slade Gordon (R-Wash.). "Each time Taiwan acquires or proposes to acquire military hardware from the U.S., it's analyzed in terms of our simultaneous relationship with the People's Republic of China.
"We cannot have this kind of conversation with President Lee in America because he cannot come here without making very big waves," the Newport Beach Republican said.
Sen. Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) recently invited Lee to the United States--a move that brought harsh reaction from the Chinese government. Last year, the Chinese angrily protested when the United States allowed Lee to travel to Cornell University to receive an honorary degree.
Another U.S. delegation will attend Lee's inauguration in several weeks.