Sun, May 07, 2000 - Page 1 News List

No news is good news, says Lord

Winston Lord, former US Assistant Undersecretary for Asia Pacific in the State Department lead a delegation to visit Taiwan and China at the end of April. Yesterday he told reporter Nadia Tsao about what he had learned from the countries' leaders

Taipei Times: Can you tell us who you visited in China and what important messages you received?

Winston Lord: We met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇), [senior research fellow at the China Defense Science and Technology Information Center] Liu Huaqiu (劉華秋), [PLA Deputy Chief of Staff] Xiong Guangkai (熊光楷), [vice chairman of the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS)] Tang Shubei (唐樹備) and [ARATS Chairman] Wang Daohan (汪道涵). The major message I got during this trip is that they are still pressing Chen to accept the "one China" principle which is not something new. I think they will maintain that position from now on.

It is difficult to understand what's going on in Beijing. I think there should be some debate on Taiwan going on, but I can't prove it. Actually we got a fairly consistent line from the Chinese -- though the tone might be different sometimes but the substance is consistent, They are pressing Chen to accept the "one China" principle.

TT: Some officials in Washington noted that they felt encouraged by cross-strait relations since Chen's election; does this mean that people can be optimistic about developments?

WL: I have to say that I was travelling in a private and unofficial capacity. However, I was impressed with the steps that the president-elect [Chen] has taken so far. He has been quite moderate in his approach to cross-strait relations. In Beijing, we pointed out Chen's conciliatory mood and urged the Chinese to be patient. We hope that the two sides can reconcile their differences, possibly through private talks if it's necessary, before any official talks.

However, it is not up to me to make recommendations to the president-elect, he has to make his own decisions. But we did mention to him that he has been very constructive so far. We did make clear to the Chinese that they cannot expect Chen to go too far and too fast because he has to build a national consensus. We pointed out to Beijing that they should respond to the constructive mood he has made.

TT: Do you see mutual distrust between Beijing and the new government in Taipei?

WL: There is some mutual distrust of course; only time can solve the problem and that's why Beijing needs patience. I do not think we should use "pessimistic" or "optimistic" to describe the situation. As I mentioned, Chen has been very constructive and moderate, Beijing's "wait and see" [policy] also shows some restraint. But I do not expect the problem to be solved on May 20 because it is not realistic. I do not see any sign of resumption of talks right now but we will see the testing and negotiating go on in the future. I do not foresee a military conflict in the near future either.

TT: Did you make a briefing or report to the White House about your trip?

WL: I wish to do it in a nonofficial and private meeting, but we do keep in touch with Washington.

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