Sun, Feb 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Public will reject pro-China tactics

By the Liberty Times editorial

French President Jacques Chirac stated during a state banquet in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) last Monday that holding a national referendum along with Taiwan's presidential election is a "grave error" that will disrupt regional stability.

On the other hand, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) indicated during his New Year's remarks on Jan. 27 that the referendum will constitute another major accomplishment in Taiwan's democratic evolution.

In the past, Taiwan won the recognition of the world with its economic miracle and now it will win the respect of the world with its democratic achievements, Chen said. He went on to say that he believed Taiwan could write a new chapter in history.

The referendum is a focus of attention not only in Taiwan, China, the Asia-Pacific region and the US. Against the backdrop of security threats posed by China and as a result of media manipulation, the issue has even attracted the attention of European countries. In the future, with the approach of the presidential election, it could become the center of global attention.

Among all the countries that have expressed views, the US is the most influential and significant. General Richard Meyers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, visited Beijing last month. During his meeting with former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), Meyers explicitly indicated the US government's opposition to a unilateral change of the status quo by either side of the Taiwan Strait.

He also told a press conference that on the Taiwan issue the US and China understand each other's stance.

If Taiwan is attacked, the US will assist Taiwan in its self-defense. Meyers said that as China continues to make massive missile deployments, according to the Taiwan Relations Act, the US is obligated to assist Taiwan in its self-defense.

Meyers is a top US military commander. His comments in Beijing were open and unequivocal. It was also an international declaration that constituted a pleasant development at a time when the US-Taiwan relationship was characterized by the pan-blue camp and by some local media as being at the "lowest point" over the so-called referendum "controversy." Meyers' comments were an accurate piece of "preventive national defense" on the part of the US.

In other words, Meyers has clearly informed China that the US has not changed its policy of supporting Taiwan's self-defense pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act as a result of its disapproval of holding the referendum.

In addition, during Meyers' visit to Beijing, Chen announced the topics for the referendum. US Secretary of State of Colin Powell responded that the US neither opposed Taiwan's national referendum nor endorsed it, stating that Chen has shown flexibility on the issue. At the same time, Powell reiterated that both Chen and the Chinese leaders are "good friends" of the US, and that both the US-Sino and the US-Taiwan relationships are in good order.

Obviously, China's intention to exploit the US to pressure Taiwan has not been accepted by the US government. This proves that the US-China-Taiwan relationship is back in equilibrium.

Powell's comments have relieved the pressure and suspicion of the US over the national referendum.

As the head of the alliance of democratic countries of the world, the US government cannot and should not have double standards for democratic values. All its concerns about the referendum arose from China's deliberate twisting of the referendum as "incremental Taiwan independence."

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