In Support of Taiwan's March 20, 2004 Referendum-Hon. Robert E. andrews (Extensions of Remarks - March 02, 2004)
HON. ROBERT E. ANDREWS
OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, MARCH 2, 2004
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Taiwanese government's decision to hold a referendum on March 20, 2004, thus allowing their citizens to exhibit a true expression of democracy. It is clearly in the best interests of the United States to promote the spread of democracy, and to defend democracy wherever it exists, and I therefore urge my colleagues as well as the current Administration to support Taiwan's right to hold this referendum free from intimidation or threat of force from any nation.
In 2001, President Bush declared that America would do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan. Now it is time for us to act on this promise, not by a show of military force but by a show of vocal support for Taiwan's desire to express its democratic form of government. On March 20, 2004, Taiwan plans to hold a referendum to ask voters two questions on governmental relations with the PRC. First, Taiwanese citizens will be asked if they agree that their government should acquire more advanced anti-missile weapons to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities if the PRC refuses to remove the missiles it currently has targeting Taiwan. Second, they will be asked if they are in favor of negotiations with the PRC to reach a peaceful resolution to cross-strait differences. The people of Taiwan, and not the Government of the People's Republic of China, should have the sole right and responsibility for determining the future of Taiwan. Within this right of self-determination for the Taiwanese people lies the undeniable right of the Taiwanese government to hold referenda votes, when necessary, to assist the government in making key decisions that will effect the lives of their constituency.
As a democracy, Taiwan has shown great promise. Over the past decades, Taiwan has gone from having a one-party, martial law dictatorship to a growing democracy that has shown great respect for human rights and freedoms. It has also become a strong ally of the United States as well as a stabilizing democratic force in the Asian Pacific region. Now, Taiwan is in need of American assistance to preserve and defend the democratic form of government that it has worked so hard to create.
President Woodrow Wilson once said, "Just what is it that America stands for? If she stands for one thing more than another it is for the sovereignty of self-governing people." Mr. Speaker, as the foremost promoter of democracy and a country that stands for the sovereignty of the people, the United States cannot allow the collective voice of the Taiwanese people to be muffled due to intimidation from the People's Republic of China. It is the right of the Taiwanese people to be the sovereign rulers of their fate. I urge my colleagues and the administration to support this right as well as the growth of democracy in Taiwan.