Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Chen calls off annual military exercise

CROSS-STRAIT AFFAIRS The president announced that the Han Kuang military drill, which was slated for Sept. 9, would be canceled as a gesture of goodwill toward China

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN HONOLULU

Shortly after boarding a chartered flight on the first leg of his seven-day visit to the nation's two diplomatic allies in Central America, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced on Monday night that the annual Han Kuang, or Han glory, military drill would be canceled as a gesture of sincere determination in pursuing cross-strait peace.

Chen's announcement at an altitude of 9,000m follows in the wake of media reports that China had apparently cancelled its military exercise on Dongshan Island after withdrawing some 3,000 troops.

The Han Kuang drill was slated to take place on Sept. 9.

"Some said that it was a goodwill gesture from China," Chen told reporters. "Regardless of what China's intention is, Taiwan definitely fosters goodwill and is sincere in pursuing cross-strait cooperation based on the principle of peace."

"I hope the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can move toward better cooperation and create a win-win situation," the president said, adding that the decision was made after consulting with Minister of Defense Lee Jye (李傑).

Saying that the US and Japan were foes 50 years ago, but have since become good partners, Chen expressed the hope that China and Taiwan would "strive toward persistent peace and goodwill."

At a banquet held in his honor by a Taiwanese expatriate in Honolulu, Chen on Monday stressed that the existence of the Republic of China "is crystal clear."

After a ten-hour flight, Chen and his entourage arrived in Honolulu yesterday for a refueling stop. The president and his entourage were welcomed by hundreds of flag-waving expatriates and a number of political figures, including Hawaiian Attorney General Mark Bennett and Taiwan's representative to the US David Lee (李大維).

Hawaiian Governor Linda Lingle was not available to meet with Chen during the stopover, as she was attending the Republican Party's national convention in New York.

During the stopover of less than seven hours, Chen made a quick visit to Pearl Harbor's Arizona Memorial.

According to a source, Chen also met William Brown, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, and Democratic Representative Daniel Inouye.

According to the source, Brown said that the decision to cancel the Han Kuang drill "was a gesture of great goodwill" and that "the US welcomes the decision."

Chen and his delegation yesterday departed for Panama to attend the inauguration of Panamanian president-elect Martin Torrijos on Sept. 1.

Chen is slated to travel to Belize on Sept. 2 for an official visit.

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