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CHina's Beliigerence Toward Taiwan

As members of the Taiwanese-American community at MIT, we are deeply disturbed by Chinese President Jiang Zemin's hostile attitude toward Taiwan ["Chinese Leader Zemin Protests U.S. Stand on Taiwan and Tibet," November 17].

Despite never having had sovereignty over Taiwan for one single day, the Chinese government at Beijing is still holding on to the false claim that Taiwan is a province of China and has repeatedly threatened to overtake Taiwan by force. In March of 1996, as the people of Taiwan held their first-ever democratic presidential election, China launched ballistic Scud-type missiles at two areas just off the coast of Taiwan, one 30 miles to the southwest, and the other only 12 miles to the northeast. The missile threats were designed to intimidate Taiwan's voters and disrupt Taiwan's trade and economy.

Being a nation with the 19th largest gross national product in the world, Taiwan has a strong and vibrant economy and is the seventh largest trading partner of the United States. It has also demonstrated significant progress in its political transformation from a one-party government to a multi-party democracy.

In light of Taiwan's economic importance and its strives toward democracy, the United States has long demonstrated its commitment to the security of Taiwan. As stated in the Taiwan Relations Act, "It is the policy of the United States to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means." The United States also "considers any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States." China's threat of using military force against the people of Taiwan places the peace and stability of the entire region at risk.

Let us also not forget that China's brutal suppression of the student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and its systematic neglect for human rights have provoked the outrage of the international community. While Taiwan's peaceful transformation into a free and democratic society is not free of growing pains, it can serve as a powerful model and catalyst for the democratic transformation in China. The leaders of the Chinese government should be reminded that an invasion of its democratic neighbor, Taiwan, would wreck relations with capitalist Asia and the West, far more than the killing of the pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 ever did.

Tony J. Chen G

Michael I. Li G

Yu-Feng Wei G

Philip C. Huang '99