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U.S. ex-congresswoman recalls drafting TRA 40 years ago

2018/12/16 15:31:21

Patricia Schroeder

Taipei, Dec. 16 (CNA) A former congresswoman of the United States who voted nearly 40 years ago in favor of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) has said that the act works "pretty well" for the country, as it has continued to thrive on all fronts nearly four decades later.

Former U.S. congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who in 1973 became the first female U.S. representative elected in Colorado and blazed a trail for a new generation of women on Capitol Hill, told CNA during an interview on Dec. 11 that she thinks the act works well for Taiwan.

"I am very surprised that 40 years later, it (the TRA) has worked so well. At the time it was drafted, we had never done anything like that before. And I think it's worked pretty well," she said.

"There were a lot of things we were involved in that we had to change them after, the world has changed. But I haven't seen they said that about Taiwan," she added.

She praised Taiwan's highly educated citizens, well-developed public transportation system, and booming economic environment.

The U.S. changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on Jan. 1, 1979. A few months later, the U.S. Congress passed the TRA, which was promulgated by then-President Jimmy Carter April 10, 1979.

The TRA provides the legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan in maintaining its self-defense capability.

Asked to comment on the background of the TRA, Schroeder said she was not surprised to see Carter cutting ties with Taiwan in favor of Beijing because after disgraced ex-U.S. President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China, "everybody thought that was the next step."

Schroeder disclosed a story behind the cutting of ties with Taiwan.

She said that she and her husband were invited by Harold Brown, who then served as U.S. secretary of defense, to watch Handel's Messiah at the Kennedy Center.

During the show, she overheard Brown receiving a call from Carter, telling him that the U.S. would recognize Beijing while ditching Taipei.

Brown was asked to call Senator Barry Goldwater, a strong supporter of Taiwan, to inform him of the decision. "And the senator was very unhappy (to hear that)," she recalled.

Schroeder disclosed that she had been following the drafting of the TRA closely for months, since one of the law partners of her husband was then president of AmCham in Taipei, Robert Parker, who served as a witness during the hearing of the TRA in Washington.

"We got to work on this (TRA) right away. We got to really figuring out how Taiwan-U.S. relations were going forward. In just a few months we had it done," she noted.

She also said she does not share the concerns of some that Taiwan will be used as a bargaining chip in ongoing trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing.

"I have never heard anybody say that it (Taiwan) was a bargaining chip, I think that's just from people who like to worry," she said.

"It is like saying that the U.S. will trade out Israel or England," she continued, stressing that, England, Taiwan and Israel are cemented in U.S. foreign policy and will never change.

Schroeder arrived Taiwan on Dec. 10 to attend a women's leadership and empowerment workshop. She left on Dec. 13.

(By Elaine Hou and Joseph Yeh)