Thursday, August 5, 2010

WA State Senatorial Candidates, Part 3: Bob Burr

Continuing with the spotlights on the senatorial candidates, Democratic leaning Bob Burr and his wonderful response to my e-mail:

Hi Richard:

Thanks for the inquiry. I agree with you that this issue is off the radar screen of most people in Washington D.C. but that it could re-emerge big time. Taiwan is small, with less than 2% of the population of China; yet, on most economic measures, it is more like a country 20% China's size. One of my earliest political memories is of Quemoy and Matsu and that left a lasting impression.

While I was at Prudential, I was instrumental in setting up agencies designed to serve the Chinese communities and worked closely with several immigrants from both Taiwan and the mainland. The work ethic, value of education and family orientation that I observed was something that I wish was more widespread in American society. It came as something of a surprise to me--and a revelatory one at that--that the Taiwanese immigrants were more favorable towards reunification than the Chinese. I am hardly an expert in the area. I do believe that the United States should try to have friendly relations with both countries and do not believe the Hong Kong model will work for Taiwan. I don't want to see something doing well subverted nor its people subjected to restrictions. Thus, if the Chinese got to the point of playing the "it is us vs. them" card strongly, I would choose "them"--the Taiwanese. Unfortunately, I have limited confidence that our government would take such a stand if its hand was forced.

I believe that the People's Republic of China and Taiwan are two separate entities and that neither holds rightful dominion over the other. Taiwan should be a member of the United Nations. I am not a fan of United States arms sales to the world, but approve of sales to Taiwan. I approve of the growing trade and movement towards rapprochement between the two countries.

In summary, I would hope not to have to be moved from a position of neutrality/fence sitting an China vs. Taiwan and have the two entities amicably resolve their long-standing differences; however, in a serious showdown situation, my support would be to Taiwan.



Simply, wow. His depth and candor in his response is quite refreshing to hear. Mr. Burr starts off with acknowledging my statement that the Taiwan issue is currently on the back-burner, but at the same time realizes that this issue can and likely will be a potential flash-point in the future. This is one of the vital points about discussing Taiwan, China, and U.S. relations - realizing that this delicate dance between the three is a big deal. Having someone know a lot about the history between the three and the current situations doesn't do much if that same person does not feel like it is a potential area for "big" things to happen on an international scale.

Mr. Burr moves on to discuss more of his past experiences with both Taiwanese and Chinese, and includes an interesting comment of which I'm not sure how to take. Burr states,

"It came as something of a surprise to me--and a revelatory one at that--that the Taiwanese immigrants were more favorable towards reunification than the Chinese."

Overlooking the error of him in saying reunification rather than unification, this is quite a revelatory one as well to me. While I'm not sure during what time he was at Prudential working with these Taiwanese and Chinese, but from what I've seen is that a lot of those Taiwanese that immigrated to the U.S. between the 70s to 80s are those that were negatively affected by the martial law era of the KMT in Taiwan at the time. As a result, they likely have a negative view of the KMT and of China in general. But, I do not doubt Mr. Burr has come across Taiwanese that view unification favorable.

The latter half of his response, Mr. Burr wraps up by basically saying were it to come down to a showdown, he would support Taiwan. This definitely sounds good actually hearing him say it, but also I believe most politicians would support this notion if it really came down to it in the end. But at the same time, he is frank in saying that he has limited confidence in the U.S. actually holding up with Taiwan against China.

All in all, Mr. Burr left a great impression on me - not only being one of the first to respond back but also with honesty and knowledge of the situation. While some of his analysis may be different than what the majority of Taiwanese want (Taiwanese supporting unification vs not & Taiwanese supporting ECFA and not- his comment about rapprochement) I believe he definitely has a better handle on the Taiwan & China issue than incumbent Patty Murray.

For his statement on the voter's pamphlet, Mr. Burr is a strong proponent of changing up the current senate in a big way - eliminating private financing for elections, eliminating the excessive lobbying that results in "earmarks, tax breaks, and legislative concessions," and basically calling for the removal of all incumbents. In short, Burr's closing line is, "Say no to the status quo. Vote Bob Burr."

While I may still receive a few more responses from other Democrats, but for those Democratic leaning voters of Washington who also want to see the best for Taiwan, take a good look at Bob Burr and consider him instead of Patty Murray for the 2010 Primaries.

P.S. Not sure what the Chinese at the end means, anyone care to chime in?

Edit 8/9/10: Thanks to Henry for providing a translation for the Chinese in Bob Burr's response:

"The last two words; Un-Lei is his family name Burr - Famous Blast (Thunder). The first five; not so sure- could be said a foreign person with simplicity and robustness sustaining ten thousand years."

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