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Nearly 1,000 supporters braved rain storms to welcome Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian on Monday. The supporters, some from as far as Hawaii, waved green and white flags and pictures of the president as he arrived late Monday at a Manhattan hotel.
Calm was not the prevailing sentiment Monday night when Chen arrived at about 6:30pm and was greeted by about 1,000 supporters. They waved green and white flags representing Taiwan and shouted "Long live Taiwan!"
President Chen Shui-bian arrived in New York City at the start of his historic visit Monday, to the cheers of a throng of Taiwanese-Americans welcoming him outside the city's prestigious Waldorf Towers. More than 1,000 well-wishers lined Park Avenue, waiting in pouring rain for more than two hours before Chen's motorcade reached the hotel at about 6:30pm.
In an unscripted step, Chen got out of his limousine with first lady Wu Shu-chen a half block away from the hotel to wave gleefully at the crowd and thank them for showing up.
"People are very anxious to see the president," said one of the supporters. "We are here not to see a president, but to have the president see us. We want to give him moral support, especially at this time when everyone is attacking him in Taiwan."
Monday night, in an unprecedented event, Chen and his party had a late dinner with some 21 members of the US House of Representatives that lasted for more than two hours. The law-makers, along with a dozen aides, flew from Washington in a special Air Force C-9 jet for the meeting. Afterward, at about 11:40pm, the same plane took the group back to Washington.
It was the first time a Taiwan president has been allowed to meet openly with members of Congress. Such meetings have been blocked by previous US administrations, but the George W. Bush administration earlier this month gave its blessing to the dinner, saying it was in the best interests of the US.
California Republican Repre-sentative Dana Rohrbacher, who headed the delegation, said he is "very gratified" that both Republicans and Democrats made the trip. "It should symbolize not only to the people of Taiwan -- but to the people of the mainland -- that the Congress of the United States is solidly behind democracy, solidly behind democratically elected leaders, and we will not see Taiwan being threatened by the use of force."
Rohrbacher said the main message was that "Never will a democratically elected leader find that there's no one here to welcome him because the United States is afraid of making some dictator in Beijing unhappy."
New York congressman Benjamin Gilman and California's Tom Lantos both said they hoped that Chen could travel to Washington next year to address Congress.
"One day soon we hope to welcome you in our House in Washington," Gilman said in a speech during the dinner. "We want you to know that in your time of need as China aggressively deploys missiles across the Taiwan Strait, your friends in Washington strongly support your efforts to ensure that Taiwan remains free."
The congressmen presented Chen with two gifts, Rohrbacher said. The first was a copy of a resolution passed by the House unanimously on Thursday welcoming Chen to the US, which called the visit a "significant opportunity to broaden and strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the United States and Taiwan."
The other was a replica of the Statue of Liberty, "a bond of friendship and a love of justice and freedom that binds our people," Rohrbacher said.
During a meeting with 22 members of the US Congress in New York City on Monday, Pres-ident Chen Shui-bian reiterated his appreciation for the George W. Bush administration's support of Taiwan and expressed hope that the US can help the nation join more international organizations. Business leaders, government officials and lawmakers from Chen's delegation also attended the banquet. In his speech, Chen thanked Taiwan's friends in the US for speaking out on behalf of Taiwan over the past year.
Both Republican representative Ben Gilman and Democrat Tom Lantos yesterday talked about the importance of "democracy and freedom," suggesting that the US should provide stronger protection to Taiwan.
Chen met with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In that meeting, the two discussed everything from baseball to politics to crime. Chen asked Giuliani to invite the New York Yankees to play a game in Taiwan, preferably this year when Taiwan hosts the Baseball World Cup in the fall.
Chen was then to leave for Wall Street and meet with Dick Grasso, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. At 2pm, the president and his wife were to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
陳水扁總統伉儷歷經十四個小時的長途飛行，二十一日傍晚抵達紐約，受到近千名台灣僑胞的熱烈歡迎。 美國在台協會理事主席卜睿哲代表美國政府在場迎接。美國以國家元首的安全措施迎接陳水扁。陳水扁一行抵達機場後立即進入美方在停機坪準備好的加長型禮車、廂型車，在警車開道下駛往位於曼哈頓的伍爾道夫大飯店。 近千名來自美國東岸的台僑，包括「扁友會」、「李登輝之友會」與「台灣商會」等千名台僑從下午四時起便在飯店對街集合，高舉綠色的民進黨旗幟與歡迎標語，雖然紐約下著大雨，但僑胞熱情不減。
五月二十二日，陳總統和隨行的部會首長共進美式自助餐後，將於八點會見紐約市長朱利安尼，並接受朱利安尼贈與市鑰，兩人會談時間約二十五分鐘，其後，他將會見美國扁友會代表，為時一個小時，再前往華爾街證券交易所參觀並座談。 餐會後，陳總統伉儷將參觀紐約大都會博物館，博物館參觀行程結束後，陳總統返回飯店將接見刻在美國進修的前行政院長唐飛，之後會見富士比雜誌董事長溫伯格 ，接下來則會見美台商會協會理事主席卡路奇。