Fri, Oct 24, 2003 - Page 1 News List

US official denies Bush called Chen a `troublemaker'

RUMOR FROM CHINA Taiwan's representative office in Washington has been told George W. Bush did not refer to Chen as a troublemaker at APEC

By Nadia Tsao  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

A US official denied that President George W. Bush had called President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) a troublemaker at this week's APEC summit, as was alleged by a Chinese official.

The US official told the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington that Bush did not make any such comment.

The statement was made to put to rest concerns over remarks by Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and deputy head of the Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs.

Jia said that Bush had described Chen as a troublemaker in his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) at the APEC summit in Bangkok on Sunday.

Jia made this comment when he received a Taiwanese delegation, led by Jenny Ma (馬愛珍), chairwoman of the Taiwan Women Entrepreneurs Association, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

It was learned that Taipei's representatives to the US on Wednesday had checked with a US Department of State official who knew the content of the Bush-Hu meeting. After cross-checking the meeting record, the US official said, as far as he understood, Bush did not describe Chen as a "troublemaker."

The US reportedly also felt annoyed by Jia's comment. It is generally believed that Jia has attempted to play the US card to affect Taiwan's presidential election next March, while trying to avoid arousing resentment among Taiwanese by having Beijing intervene directly.

It was understood, according to the US official, that Bush had reiterated the US pledge to abide by the "one China" policy during the meeting with Hu. Bush also expressed his opposition to Taiwan declaring independence, according to the US official.

It is known that "not supporting Taiwan's independence" is the wording Bush's aides used in the information sheets they prepared for the US president. But Bush said both "not supporting Taiwan's independence" and "opposing Taiwan's independence" in his meeting with the Chinese leader. Neither the White House nor the State Department corrected Bush's statement.

However, Bush has never publicly expressed his opposition to Taiwan's independence.

Bush did not clarify himself when Hu told the press after their meeting that Bush had said he "opposes Taiwan independence." Nor did senior White House officials try to offer explanations in the briefing following the Bush-Hu talks.

The US official merely said Bush had told Hu that the US doesn't support Taiwan moving toward independence.

The official also reiterated an earlier statement by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that the US doesn't want either side of the Taiwan Strait changing the status quo unilaterally in a way that would upset peace and stability.

Translated by Jackie Lin

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