Wed, Nov 17, 2004 - Page 1 News List

MOFA thanks Powell for boosting Taiwan-US ties

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked US Secretary of State Colin Powell for his contribution to Taiwan-US ties yesterday after US President George W. Bush accepted his resignation.

Despite Powell's denial of Taiwan's sovereign status and call for the country's "peaceful reunification" with China during his visit to Beijing last month, the ministry said Powell has repeatedly expressed approval of the democratic development in Taiwan during his tenure.

Ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) mentioned Powell's citation of Taiwan as a "success story" in a major speech on US East Asia policy to the Asia Society Annual Dinner on June 10, 2002.

Saying that the US takes its responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) "very, very seriously," Powell remarked in the speech that people tend to refer to Taiwan as "The Taiwan Problem."

"I call Taiwan not a problem, but a success story. Taiwan has become a resilient economy, a vibrant democracy and a generous contributor to the international community," Powell said.

"The ministry appreciates Mr. Powell's contribution to increased ties between Taiwan and the US ... He also supported Taiwan's participation in international organizations, including the World Health Organization," Lu said in a press conference.

Lu said the ministry believes Powell's departure would not affect Taiwan-US relations.

"Taiwan and the US share universal values such as freedom, democracy and human rights. Both sides have intense trade and cultural exchanges and have been cooperating well in international anti-terrorism efforts," Lu said.

The ministry would consider the possibility of inviting Powell to visit Taiwan after his leaves office, Lu added.

The ministry declined to comment on the likely impact Powell's replacement, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, will have on cross-strait relations.

"The appointment is yet to be approved by the US Senate," Lu said.

Rice first visited China in 1988 and then again in 1992, made her most recent trip to Beijing in July.

Although it is predicted Rice would take a hardline stance on US foreign policy, it is not immediately clear whether the US' Taiwan policy would depart from its previous position after Rice assumes the post.

Whether Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Randall Shriver, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, will stay after Powell's departure may have significant influence on Washington's future Taiwan policy, observers said.

In a speech she made at the University of Louisville in March, Rice said the US has a very clear policy on China's relations with Taiwan and that it "remains the kind of upright anchor to keep that policy in place."

"There's `one China,' but we expect that no one will try -- in one way or another -- to change the status quo unilaterally. That means that Taiwan should not try to move to independence unilaterally, and it means that China should not provoke or threaten Taiwan," she said.

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