Former vice president given green light to visit United States

Former Vice President Wu Den-yih's (???) application to travel to the United States later this month has been approved, the Presidential Office said Friday.

Wu was invited to attend the annual meeting of the Taiwan Benevolent Association of America in Boston scheduled for Sept. 23-25. Wu will give a keynote speech at the meeting on Sept. 24.

Alex Huang (???), spokesman of the Presidential Office, said the office has screened Wu's application based on the Classified National Security Information Protection Act and regulations regarding control of personnel involved with classified information leaving the country.

Huang said that a task force assigned to review Wu's application met on Aug. 22 and again on Aug. 29. It has notified Wu's office of the approval of his visit.

Wu will depart for the United States on Sept. 20 and return on Oct. 6.

Hung also explained why Wu's application was approved while former President Ma Ying-jeou's (???) request to visit Hong Kong was rejected.

Huang said the purpose of Wu's visit to the United States is to meet with Taiwan expatriates, which is different from Ma's visit "in nature."

"Political sensitivities and risks involving national security are within a controllable range, "Huang said.

Former President Ma applied for permission to visit Hong Kong to deliver a speech at an award ceremony and dinner to be hosted by the Society of Publishers in Asia on June 15.

The application was rejected on the grounds that Ma had had access to huge volumes of classified national security information as president and that it was less than one month since he had left office.

The task force assigned to review the application also took into consideration the difficulty involved in controlling the risks of a former president visiting Hong Kong, which is a highly sensitive area in terms of Taiwan's national security, a government spokesman said.

Furthermore, Taiwan's National Security Bureau has no experience cooperating with its Hong Kong counterpart and there was not enough time to coordinate with other authorities in Hong Kong or mainland China, the spokesman said.

Under Taiwan's Classified National Security Information Protection Act that was introduced in 2003, former presidents, premiers and government ministers with classified status are required to gain government approval for overseas travel up to three years after leaving office.

Wu's office said the former vice president was happy to hear that the Presidential Office has given its approval to the trip, which will be Wu's first overseas visit since stepping down on May 20.

The office also said that in addition to giving a speech at the Taiwan Benevolent Association of America in Boston, other itineraries are being arranged.

Wu will also visit Los Angeles and Houston for the purpose of meeting old friends, instead of taking part in official activities. Wu's wife will accompany him during the visit, Wu's office said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel