Fri, Sep 14, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan offers US its unconditional support after attack

By Monique Chu and Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTERS IN TAIPEI AND WASHINGTON

In the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attack, Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) yesterday said that Taiwan regards the US as its No. 1 ally and would side with the nation without any hesitation.

"The US is our closest ally in the world. I hope the people of Taiwan would have no doubt that our national security and US attitudes are closely related," Tien said.

When asked if his clearly stated pro-US policy would make the nation a target for terrorists, Tien said: "Do we have any other choice? At a time when the nation that is the friendliest to us faces such a dramatic attack, wouldn't we be hypocrites if we didn't declare our support?"

"Aside from siding with the US, I don't know what other choice we have," Tien said. "I would like to ask you to identify other countries which would offer necessary assistance to us when Taiwan faced a crisis. Would any other country do that?"

The US-trained scholar-turned minister said it has been Taiwan's consistent policy to side with the US over the past five decades.

When asked if the ministry had received information from the US that Taiwan was also on Osama bin Laden's list of "unfriendly" nations, Tien said: "I've heard that, but our country's basic stance is against terrorism."

"Some terrorists that are anti-US and anti-democratic would treat us in an unfriendly manner. But Taiwan is not alone as western European countries and US allies in Asia such as Japan would be listed [by bin Laden as unfriendly nations]," Tien said.

"We need to be on the alert and enhance measures to ensure our domestic stability," Tien added.

However, Tien pointed out, just because Taiwan sided with the US didn't mean Taiwan was unfriendly to countries in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the number of Taiwanese missing in the wake of Tuesdays's attack on the US stood at eight yesterday, and could rise, the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Andrew Hsia Li-yan (夏立言) said.

Hsia would not make public the name of the worker, a 20-year-old engineer with a private company that was on the 91st floor of twin tower number two.

His wife called the office to report him missing yesterday.

Earlier in the day, one of the original eight that were missing contacted his family.

Two Taiwanese employees af Taiwan's First Commercial Bank, Chang Mei-ching (張美欽) and Wang Ching-huei (王晴暉) remain missing.

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