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Visiting US representative warns of dependence on China

By Joseph Yeh--A visiting United States congresswoman yesterday expressed concern over Taiwan's over-reliance on China economically, saying the dependence may come at the expense of Taiwanese interests.

“I believe the relations between Taiwan and China are for the Taiwanese to decide,” said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in Taipei.

Ros-Lehtinen however said she was worried that if Taiwan continues to economically engage with the mainland, the island could be forced to “sacrifice a lot” in order to maintain such relations.

The chairwoman said that Beijing is increasingly using military intimidation against Taiwan, and that the communist country has repeatedly ignored the rule of law, democracy and separation of powers, as well as censored the Internet.

These democratic values, however, are shared by Taiwan and the U.S., she added.

With increasingly closer economic engagements between the two side of the Strait, the U.S. politician warned that Taiwan “may run the risk of sacrificing these principles that have set you apart from many neighboring countries in Asia” just in the name of economic gain.

Ros-Lehtinen made the remarks in response to questions raised by students on cross-strait relations at a roundtable for local youth in Taipei yesterday.

The discussion, organized by the U.S.-based Formosa Foundation, was also joined by two U.S. Congresspeople Jean Schmidt and Thaddeus McCotter.

During the roundtable, Ros-Lehtinen reiterated Washington's long-held stance in abiding by the Taiwan Relations Act to provide weapons to meet Taiwan's defense needs.

U.S. Congress will continue to push for sales of advanced weapons to Taiwan to meet its defense needs, including the F-16C/D jet fighters or more advanced models such as the F-35, she noted.

The chairwoman, leading a 21-member Congressional group from across party lines, arrived in Taiwan on a military charter flight on May 20 for a three-day visit to attend President Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration.

The delegation was expected to leave Taiwan yesterday afternoon.

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