Sat, Dec 13, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Bush highlighted nation's plight, Lu says

By Lin Chieh-yu and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said yesterday that US President George W. Bush's criticism of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) actually helps Taiwan and highlights the country's need to defend itself against China's missiles.

Lu said the comments made during Bush's meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) amounted to successful "placement marketing."

"President Chen did not fail and Taiwan did not lose any points. The `defensive referendum' has made international society more concerned about the status quo in the cross-strait relationship and had a positive impact for Taiwan," Lu said.

"International society should now better understand that Taiwan wants to promote and practice the same kind of democracy as in the US, while China acts against the UN's anti-military stance and that it is the bad guy who makes wrong accusations first," she said.

After meeting with Wen, Bush said: "The comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally, to change the status quo, which we oppose."

The media and opposition parties in Taiwan have interpreted the comment as a serious warning and said Chen's insistence on holding a referendum had created problems for the country.

But Lu, who was nominated as Chen's running mate on Thursday, defended her boss yesterday.

She said that the contents of the Bush-Wen talk might have violated the Taiwan Relations Act. What was more important, she said, was that international society and the US Congress had all voiced their support for Taiwan.

"Taiwan has been a good child, an honors student of democracy, but the Taiwanese leader cannot go to Washington to meet with the American leader, who also pursues the universal values of democracy, human rights and peace," Lu said.

"Yet the communist leader of the biggest authoritarian state in the world, who threatened the use of military force against Taiwan, was a guest at the White House," Lu said.

"Does that match the US' traditional spirit and founding values?" she asked.

Lu said the US had mobilized a good portion of its army to look for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to no avail, but there were hundreds of missiles deployed on China's coast aimed at Taiwan that the US pretends are not there.

Lu said Wen's talk and actions showed that China was still afraid of direct democracy in Taiwan because once the referendum went ahead, the result would deliver clearly the message that the Taiwanese people reject China and reunification.

"China is afraid of referendums," Lu said.

Lu said Bush's talk showed that the US opposed "the change of status quo" but not referendums themselves.

As long as Taiwan's government improves its communication with the US, promotes understanding on both sides and takes its case to international society, the US, in the end, will accept the defensive referendum, she said.

"The US and Taiwan both follow the same universal values, and we are important partners in strategy and economics. The US has never sacrificed its friends with common beliefs and values in its history, and we believe the Bush administration would not sacrifice or betray Taiwan," Lu said.

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