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Taiwan Leader's L.A. Meeting Falls Through

August 13, 2000|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has pulled out of a meeting today with members of Congress, a visit that the Clinton administration did not want to happen for fear of riling Chinese sensitivities to U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Chen informed Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.) on Saturday night that he was unable to attend, the U.S. congressman said in a staff statement issued in Washington.

Gejdenson, who is in California for the Democratic National Convention, organized the meeting that was to have been held at a private home in Los Angeles.

"I regret that the State Department and administration officials have pressured President Chen to refrain from meeting with Congress during his visit," said Gejdenson, ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee.

Chen is in the United States on a layover before he begins a two-week diplomatic tour of the Caribbean and Africa. The United States issued Chen a transit visa over Chinese warnings that it would severely damage U.S. ties with Beijing.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and is extraordinarily sensitive to any activity that would give Chen increased international legitimacy.

Gejdenson had invited four California representatives--Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Howard L. Berman and Republicans Christopher Cox and Dana Rohrabacher, a prominent China critic--to attend the meeting.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher made clear that the Clinton administration viewed Chen's U.S. stop as nonofficial. The same day, Rohrabacher spokesman Ricardo Bernal said that the administration pressured Chen not to meet with lawmakers and that Chen passed word that "it would be difficult" for any meeting to take place.

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