Wed, Mar 27, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Chen lauds democratic tie with US

COMMON VALUES The relationship between Taipei and Washington is based on the two nations' shared values of freedom, democracy and human rights, the president said

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan has forged a "democratic alliance relationship" with the US, based on the two countries' shared values of democracy, freedom and human rights, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

"This is partly why US President George W. Bush, during his latest trip to East Asia, said that the US would not forget its commitment to Taiwan and that the US would adhere to the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with necessary guarantees," Chen said during a seminar on regional economic affairs and security yesterday.

Chen said that the US pursuit of "a balanced cross-strait relationship" is in the interest of the US and is conducive to normalization of cross-strait relations.

Beijing halted talks with Taipei after former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) announced in July 1999 that cross-strait relations are "special state to state" in nature. Beijing requires Taipei to accept the "one China" principle as the precondition for a resumption of talks, a demand rejected by Chen.

The president vowed to lead Taiwan as an active partner in the US-led campaign against terrorism as part of Taipei's determination to shoulder a greater responsibility for maintaining regional security.

"As a genuine defender of the international order, Taiwan has been committing itself to joint international actions against terrorists and humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees," Chen said. "We hope the international community understands Taiwan's steadfast willingness and ability to jointly share the responsibility in securing peace, security and prosperity in the region."

In light of the upcoming change of leadership in Beijing and China's task of bringing its economy in line with WTO requirements, the world is monitoring closely whether China can accept rules dictated by an outside authority, Chen said.

"The world is also concerned with how the [new] Chinese leadership will deal with the country's relations with Taiwan in a democratic, peaceful and rational manner," the president said.

Meanwhile, Chen in his talk reiterated his determination to reform the nation's intelligence-gathering agencies in the wake of the recent scandal surrounding the National Security Bureau (NSB).

Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), senior advisor to the National Security Council, who also attended the seminar yesterday, said neither partisan interest nor political strife should lead to the leaking of intelligence information.

"The damage has been done," Lin said of the recent media disclosure of the leaked NSB documents that detailed usage of the NSB slush funds worth NT$3.5 billion established under former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) administration.

"I think the damage can be kept to a minimum," Lin said.

When asked to comment on the recent row over the NSB secret funds, former US ambassador-at-large Richard Fairbanks said the statements made by the Taiwanese government so far were "reasonable."

While each government is concerned with national security, to safeguard human rights and press freedom is also of salient concern for a democracy, Fairbanks said, adding: "balancing these is always a challenge."

What is more at stake for any government involved in scandals is "what comes after the scandal," said Fairbanks, counselor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

The center hosted yesterday's seminar together with the Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中信銀).

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