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Jimmy Carter Plans Taiwan Visit

February 22, 1999

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Jimmy Carter plans to visit Taiwan next month _ a trip that comes 20 years after he severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan so the United States could recognize Beijing.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Roy Wu said Taiwan would ``welcome″ Carter, who will visit March 29-31 at the invitation of the Institute for National Policy Research, a private think tank.

Carter will be accompanied by his wife, Rosalynn, and deliver a speech to the institute. He likely will also meet top Taiwanese officials, including President Lee Teng-hui, although the Foreign Ministry declined to confirm any meetings with the former U.S. president.

Many Taiwanese believe Carter treated them unfairly, and his visit could provoke new discussion of his decision to recognize Beijing. Washington continues to have rocky ties with mainland China, while enjoying good relations with Taiwan.

Carter cut U.S. diplomatic ties to Taiwan on Jan. 1, 1979, cementing Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation, igniting violent street protests and sparking a new wave of domestic repression by the increasingly insecure martial law regime.

Cutting ties with its cold war ally allowed the United States to normalize relations with China’s communist government, which had driven Taiwan’s ruling Nationalists out of the Chinese mainland amid civil war in 1949.

China still considers Taiwan a breakaway province, and vows to use force if necessary to reunite the two sides.

Although just 28 countries now recognize Taiwan, the island has undergone a peaceful transition to democracy in the 1990s, and now boasts one of Asia’s strongest economies.

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