Thu, Jan 08, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Bush failed Taiwan: Lieberman


US Senator Joseph Lieberman blasted President George W. Bush on Tuesday for "turning his back on Taiwan," which he said was an "outrageously unprincipled position for a president of the United States to take."

Speaking with five other Democrat presidential candidates in a radio debate, Lieberman, a Democrat candidate for this year's presidential primaries, said that Taiwan's plans to hold a "defensive referendum" is not a declaration of independence.

"This was not a declaration of independence by the Taiwanese. This was a call for a referendum on whether the Chinese should remove the missiles from across the Taiwan Strait. And for the president [Bush], when China griped about it, to knuckle under, that's not what the leader of the greatest democracy in the world does," Lieberman said.

Lieberman, a senior senator who has served for over 16 years, was Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential election.

He has been a staunch supporter of Taiwan since the early 1980s.

On the referendum issue, John Kerry said that "the United States has always had a `one China' policy, not withstanding how terrible we may understand their regime to be. And that has been a Republican president, Democrat president policy alike. I think it is the right policy."

At the same time, Kerry said, no president could possibly allow Taiwan to slip backward from the democracy it has achieved.

"And what we have succeeded in doing through the years is to maintain a balance, what people have called a purposeful, constructive ambiguity, where we've left it uncertain as to precisely what steps we'd take."

"But we've made it clear we will not tolerate any kind of invasion, any kind of effort to move backwards," he said, adding that "I think now is the time for us to also be strong with Taiwan and to make it clear that while we are supportive of the democracy, and while we recognize the society they've built in a capitalist society, we are not going to permit them to declare independence; that would be unacceptable."

Kerry made the remarks in response to a question by Neal Conan, moderator of the debate, who asked: "Taiwan has scheduled what some are describing as a provocative referendum as a sign of restiveness, and some fear that it could lead them to a policy of independence. When it comes down to it, will you stand with the rambunctious democrats in Taipei? Or with the autocrats in Beijing?"

Responding to the same question, Lieberman said: "America is always strongest in the world when we stand by our principles, and the bedrock principle is freedom and democracy.

"So yes, China's big. We have to work to manage our relations with them. Taiwan is small, but China is not a democracy; Taiwan is. And we have to stand with that rambunctious democracy," Lieberman said.

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