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Lawmakers May Invite Taiwan’s Chen

May 8, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Pro-Taiwan lawmakers have had informal discussions about inviting President Chen Shui-bian to Washington, a congressional source said Wednesday.

The source said members of Congress who met with Chen when he traveled to New York last year are eager to continue the dialogue with him. Chen was the first president of Taiwan to visit New York, although he stopped in Los Angeles in 2000 while in transit to Latin America.

There have been no discussions about a possible invitation with the administration, said the source, asking not to be identified.

China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, strongly opposed Chen’s 2001 U.S. visit on the ground that such travel could strengthen pro-independence forces on the island.

After the New York stop, Rep. Robert Wexler, R-Fla., among those who met with Chen, said the visit ``should not be seen as antagonistic to China. It is simply a maturing of our relationship with Taiwan.″

Chen’s party is pro-independence but has moderated its position since his election. He has said he won’t act to promote independence while holding that unity with the mainland is not Taiwan’s only option.

The Bush administration backs a one-China policy, a position restated last week during the visit of Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao.

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