Reporters may contact: Meredith Dickenson
SMU News and Information
(214) 768-7654

May 30, 2001


DALLAS (SMU) -- Cal Jillson, chair of Southern Methodist University's Department of Political Science and the director of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, is available to discuss how the upcoming visit of Taiwan's president to Houston will affect U.S. diplomatic relations with China.

Jillson may be contacted at 214-768-4321 or 972-307-8422.

As part of the last leg of a 10-day tour of the U.S. and Latin America, Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), will visit Houston June 2 and 3. He is expected to eat at a local steak restaurant and attend a Houston Astros baseball game with Congressman Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.

Jillson, who recently returned from a research trip to Taiwan, says the public outings for President Chen and his private meetings with American political leaders, including New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani and several U.S. congressmen, is evidence of changing diplomatic relations among the U.S., Taiwan, and China.

"During previous transit stopovers in the U.S., Taiwanese presidents have been restricted to their airplanes or to their hotels and have not been permitted to meet with U.S. officials," Jillson said. "President Chen's more public and generous treatment on his current visit suggests a more supportive U.S. policy toward Taiwan and will further strain relations between the U.S. and China."

Taiwan is regarded as a renegade province by the People's Republic of China (Mainland China), which tries to prevent other nations from establishing diplomatic relations with the quasi-nation of 22 million people located about 100 miles off the coast of China. Jillson says Taiwan claims autonomy, but not independence, from Mainland China. According to Jillson, the U.S. has full diplomatic relations with China. The U.S. only provides arms to Taiwan and supports its autonomy from China.

SMU'S Tower Center in Dedman College supports teaching and research programs in international and domestic politics with an emphasis on global studies and national security policy. The center sponsors several conferences a year, works with other international organizations such as the Dallas Council on World Affairs, and supports faculty research and travel. Each year the Tower Center Board of Directors awards undergraduate fellowships to SMU students interested in studying in Washington, D.C. or in U.S. embassies abroad. Another Tower Center program places SMU students in summer internships in the U.S. State Department. The Tower Center was established in memory and honor of former U.S. Senator John Tower, who earned a master's degree in political science from SMU in 1953 and taught in the SMU Department of Political Science after his retirement from the Senate.