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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, November 8, 2004

Diplomacy a must for Taiwan mission

If they haven't done so already, we urge state officials to consult very carefully with the State Department about their plans for a major trade mission to Taiwan next month.

There's no question that Taiwan investment in Hawai'i is welcome, and there's certainly room for more.

The danger is in large official delegations visiting Taipei under the careful eyes of Beijing.

State officials, of course, are aware of China's strident claim that Taiwan is nothing more than a wayward province that will be returned to the fold by invasion if it dares to declare independence.

And Beijing has placed enormous pressure on other countries that have had bilateral relations with Taiwan. Only a handful have not buckled.

With the right care, a state delegation should be able to navigate China's diplomatic radar to visit Taipei.

We're not sure, however, that the Lingle administration is worried about being ultra-careful. It has gone out of its way to give less-than-careful welcomes during visits to Hawai'i by Taiwan's president and vice president.

In years past, these officials have sat in their airplanes on the airport tarmac to receive visitors, denied even the chance to set foot in the United States.

We like and admire Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, and the business interests that the state hopes to woo.

We wish the circumstances between Taiwan and China were otherwise.

But they're not, and it's imperative that the state ensure that a diplomatic upheaval doesn't result from this rather modest — and on its surface, desirable — trade initiative.