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Taipei May 23, 2002 - Meet the President of the Republic of China

By Bob Van Leer

  (TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Tuesday, May 23, 2002) - The highlight of today's activities was a meeting with Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China.

  Pres. Chen reiterated that Taiwan doesn't get any respect. He said the Republic of China (ROC) is the 14th largest trading nation in the world but has not enjoyed the dignity it deserves. Taiwan was admitted to the World Trade Organization but denied participation in the World Health Organization.

   He said Taiwan participation in the U.N. would recognize Taiwan's accomplishments contributing to peace and justice. He said we will continue our efforts.

  This session was covered by cameramen from all six Taiwan TV stations.

  Chen said the worst time for our economic problems has passed. He expressed appreciation to Pres. George Bush, Congress and the American people for support of the ROC.

  Chen said he hoped there will be a time when he can visit the U. S. and he said he would be happy to accept an invitation from our organization, the National Newspaper Association.

  Chen said trade with Hong Kong has increased since the British left and returned the colony to China. Taiwan would like to have improved relations with China in the basis of the Three Links: free trade, free communications and free transport.

  U. S. interests in Taiwan are handled by the American Institute on Taiwan (AIT), a strange creature created by the Taiwan Relations Act. AIT is a non-profit corporation staffed mostly by former U. S. State Department officials. They resign from the State Department to work for AIT and then go back to the State Department after they leave AIT. AIT handles business an embassy would handle if we had one here.

  Later, we visited the offices of the Liberty Times and Taipei Times. Chang Kuei Lee, president of the Taipei times, said it is a private company owned by an individual, and not publicly traded.

  The newspapers are well done and the production facilities and quality of printing are better than anything we have seen in the U. S.

  Our stay in Taiwan is over and we fly to Hong Kong tomorrow morning. Linda Beerman, wife of Allen Beerman, director of the Nebraska Press Association and our tour leader, fell and broke her arm in three places. She was treated locally and will fly with to Hong Kong tomorrow for another medical consultation. From there she will return home with her husband, probably for surgery. The tour will continue on to Beijing without them.

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