David Wu's firm stance riles China        Taipei Times  010417
By Paul Lin 林保華


US Representative David Wu (吳振偉), of Oregon, wraps up a visit to his native Taiwan today. He wanted to visit Hong Kong, Shanghai and Suzhou too, but the Beijing authorities have refused to allow him in because they believe he has been unfriendly to them during his two terms as a representative.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice have not been friendly either, but China has eagerly invited them to visit Beijing in the hope they might change their minds after having a good stay, some good meals and some good fun. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has repeatedly declined Beijing's invitations to visit. Helms, who is known for his anti-communist stance, believes he does not have to visit Beijing in order to understand China.

It was surprising that China stopped Wu, someone who actually wanted to visit, from visiting.

The Beijing authorities have always encouraged overseas Chinese to return to their roots. China threw a grand reception for the governor of Washington State, Gary Locke (駱家輝), when he returned to his hometown in Guangdong Province, in search of his roots.

So why didn't Beijing welcome Wu, whose parents both hail from Suzhou and who once helped Portland establish sister-city relations with Suzhou?

Perhaps China blocked Wu's visit because he has been very firm on American values. Wu arrived in the US when he was six-and-a-half years old. He graduated from Yale University's law school, and also has a good understanding of China and Taiwan. Beijing can't possibly buy him off by just letting him visit.

Beijing's dissatisfaction with Wu can be traced to a number of issues. Last year, he was one of a few representatives who opposed the proposal to grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to China, even though the House of Representatives passed the bill by a strong majority. For his opposition, Beijing attacked him time and time again, stopping just short of calling him a "collaborator." Pro-China people also vowed not to vote for him, but Wu managed to win re-election anyway.

Wu has explained why he voted against PNTR. He is not against raising the Chinese people's standard of living, but he insists that economic solutions are not a cure-all, and that moral factors also need to be taken into account. Wu believes that good things never come automatically in China, but rather that they come only after relentless effort.

Wu has also criticized China for politicizing trade. He believes that when the Beijing authorities come to the US to buy 50,000 tons of wheat, they try to split the purchase into small portions to buy friends in three different regions. Wu believes these are political, not economic, activities.

Unfortunately, Taiwanese businessmen who have close ties to Beijing do not understand this point. Or perhaps they do understand but pretend not to.

Wheat is not the only commodity that Beijing tries to politicize. China has threatened US aircraft manufacturer Boeing, saying they would switch purchases to the European consortium, Airbus. They have done the same to Airbus, saying they would switch to Boeing. Beijing has pitted the two corporations against each other so that they will exert pressure on their governments to stop them from criticizing China's misdeeds.

It is precisely due to his good understanding of China that Wu holds a highly favorable view of the political transition in Taiwan. Wu also believes that Chinese genes are not incompatible with modern democratic politics. As a result, he has shown special concern for Taiwan's development and security.

Wu believes former president Bill Clinton's "three no's" policy was based on an inadequate understanding of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. He also believes the primary emphasis at present should be on maintaining the status quo. That was why Wu jointly proposed the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act along with Republican caucus whip in the House, Tom DeLay.

Wu also supports weapons sales to Taiwan and the lifting of restrictions on Taiwan government officials visiting the US.

Wu was recently elected to chair the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The caucus has 25 members and occupies an influential position in Congress. It is hoped that Wu will gain a better understanding of Taiwan from his visit, and that he will further promote relations between Taiwan and the US.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

Translated by Francis Huang


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