Fri, May 26, 2000 - Page 1 News List

US spy list has MOFA seeing red

BAD COMPANY The government is outraged to find Taiwan branded as a threat to the security of the US along with such dubious company as Iran and Libya

By Catherine Sung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) issued a formal protest yesterday over the US government placing Taiwan on the FBI's Country Threat List.

The list specifies countries which are seen as a threat to US national security in areas such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation and espionage.

According to The Washington Times, Taiwan was placed last among the 13 nations designated as a threat to US national security, including Russia, China, North Korea, Yugoslavia, Serbian-controlled Bosnia, Vietnam, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan.

In a press statement, the foreign ministry called Washington's action "surprising and regrettable" and demanded the US government explain the decision.

The foreign ministry said that no concrete evidence of wrongdoing had been provided by Washington.

The foreign ministry's statement denied Taiwan's representative offices or overseas staff had ever engaged "in any illegal intelligence activities."

"As Taiwan reaches a new level of democratization, we hope the US will value the longstanding friendly relations between the two sides and strengthen bilateral cooperation under the guidelines of the Taiwan Relations Act."

"Taiwan is a democratic country; we are different from the other states listed," Tien told reporters yesterday.

Tien said it was "unthinkable" for Taiwan to engage in the kind of terrorist activities covered by the FBI list.

Asked whether he has a response to the foreign ministry's statement, Raymond Burghardt, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) declined to comment and told the Taipei Times "it's Washington, not us."

"Check your files, this story is not anything new," Burghardt said.

AIT spokeswoman Susan Stahl said: "We have no comment. AIT's policy is not to discuss intelligence matters."

White House foreign affairs spokesman P.J. Crowley also refused to comment, the Central News Agency reported from Washington yesterday.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) expressed "grave concern" to Burghardt yesterday, the foreign ministry statement said.

Foreign ministry officials said although Taiwan "may have" been blacklisted for economic espionage in the past, this is the first time Taiwan has been grouped under the category of national security threats.

"We have checked the records in the past few years and there is no indication that we have been placed on such a list," said one official in the foreign ministry's Department of North American Affairs.

The Washington Times report indirectly pointed to the Clinton administration's pro-Beijing stance as the reason for blacklisting Taiwan.

AIT officials dismissed these speculations as "purely domestic US politics."

Arizona Senator Kon Kyl questioned the report saying: "It's very strange to me that Taiwan would be on this list, especially since other countries that spy on us are not."

Lawmakers on the Legislative Yuan's Foreign Affairs Committee were also outraged by Taiwan's inclusion on the FBI's list and said they will also meet with officials at the National Security Bureau and AIT to get to the bottom of the matter.

"We are shocked," said DPP legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌). "We want to know under what condition the decision was made to place Taiwan on the list," Hong said.

Chen Chien-jen (程建人), Taiwan's designated representative to Washington DC, said he was puzzled by the action.

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