Wed, Aug 04, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Kerry vows to maintain arms sales

CAMPAIGN BOOK The US presidential hopeful and his running mate said they support the country's `vibrant democracy,' but avoided endorsing the Taiwan Relations Act

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry and his vice presidential running mate, Senator John Edwards, have pledged to continue to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons if they are elected in November.

The two Democratic hopefuls made the pledge in a 252-page campaign book they unveiled on Monday in which they provide details of their positions on domestic and international issues and expand on the party platform that was approved at the Democratic nominating convention in Boston late last month.

Like the platform, the book, Our Plan for America: Stronger at Home, Respected in the World, reiterates the party's commitment to a "one China" policy and a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues.

But it also goes further than those statements, saying the candidates "support Taiwan's vibrant democracy and robust economy and will maintain America's commitment to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons." However, like the platform, the book fails to specifically endorse the Taiwan Relations Act, on which the arms sales pledge is based.

During the 2000 presidential election, the Democratic platform said it would "fulfill its responsibilities" under the act.

The section on Taiwan came in a brief paragraph in the book on Asia, in which the Democrats also expressed the belief that the US "must engage with China effectively" to secure its adherence to standards of human rights, non-proliferation and trade.

In addition, the paragraph mentions seeking stronger relations with Japan and South Korea and "the complete, irreversible and verifiable end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program."

The book also takes China to task for "manipulating" the yuan and promises efforts to convince China to adjust the value to ease the entry of US goods and services into China, and reduce Chinese soaring exports to the US.

Kerry and Edwards released the book at campaign events for firefighters and other "first responders," a term meaning police, medical and other emergency personnel who respond first to terrorist attacks and similar catastrophes. According to the Kerry-Edwards campaign Web site, the two candidates wrote the book by themselves.

Taiwan as an issue has been virtually absent in the presidential campaign. Kerry's only mention of Taiwan was in response to a question at a primary party debate in December, when President George W. Bush publicly rebuked President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) after meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) at the White House on Dec. 9 last year.

Asked about Bush's harsh words for Chen, Kerry appeared to endorse a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems" solution for Taiwan. That was the first time Kerry is known to have expressed such an opinion.

Democratic observers dismissed the statement, saying that it was inadvertent, coming as it did at the end of a long debate and longer day on the campaign trail. They say Kerry would not likely support that position if he were elected president.

The Republicans have not re-leased a draft of their campaign platform, which is expected to be announced closer to their nominating convention next month.

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