Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Bush calls on China to show restraint

APEC SUMMIT The US president expressed concerns over China's growing number of missiles pointed at Taiwan during a meeting with Hu Jintao in Santiago

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN SANTIAGO, CHILE, WITH CNA

President of the Academia Sinica Lee Yuan-tseh, left, waves to the public while being welcomed by Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, right, as the 17th envoy to enter the APEC meeting on Nov. 20 in Santiago, Chile.

PHOTO: YEH CHIH-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

US President George W. Bush Saturday sent a strong message to his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) during their high-profile meeting on the sidelines of the APEC forum, calling on China to exercise restraint in its military buildup across the Taiwan Strait.

"The president pressed on our concern over the fact that there are so many missiles on the mainland that are pointed at Taiwan. He urged the Chinese side to act with restraint and prudence. It was the standard formulation that we have used in the past and it remains our consistent policy," said outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powel.

Bush also made the point that neither side should take unilateral actions, which might prejudge the ultimate peaceful resolution of this issue, Powell said.

Powell made the remarks Saturday afternoon in response to a media inquiry about the Chinese authorities' earlier interpretation of the US government's stance on cross-strait policy during the closed-door meeting between Bush and Hu in the morning.

The Chinese foreign ministry claimed that Bush had specifically told Hu that the US government will not send any "inconsistent messages" to Taiwan.

During a White House briefing about the meeting in the afternoon, senior US officials told the media that Hu said Beijing understood the importance of cross-strait talks, suggesting the possibility of the resumption of a cross-strait dialogue.

In addition to reiterating the "one China" policy, three communiques and Taiwan Relations Act, US officials said that Bush also told Hu that he understood the sensitivity of the cross-strait issue and that the message the US government sent out to Taiwan was clear. Bush made the remark in response to Hu's request to jointly solve the problem of Taiwan independence.

Hu also took much time to explain the "Taiwan problem" to Bush in detail, according to China's foreign ministry.

"The president told US President Bush that Taiwan has stubbornly been engaging in independence movements and refused to accept the `1992 consensus.' Its so-called constitutional reform is merely a separatist action aimed at severing Taiwan from its motherland," Chinese authorities said.

To solve the "Taiwan problem," Hu told Bush that China has insisted on peaceful resolution and the "one country, two systems" policy to reach the ultimate goal of unification.

"Taiwan independence will only lead to instability across the Taiwan Strait," Chinese authorities quoted Hu as saying. "We hope the US doesn't send any wrong messages to support Taiwan independence."

Commenting on the Bush-Hu meeting and Chinese authorities' one-sided interpretation of Bush's remarks, William Yih (易榮宗), spokesman of the Taiwan delegation, called on China to respond positively to the goodwill gestures recently expressed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"We hope China can accurately understand the goodwill gestures and take advantage of the opportunity to seek a peaceful resolution to the cross-strait issue," he said.

Before Bush held talks with Hu in Chile Saturday the US had assured Taiwan that there would be no changes in its policy toward cross-strait relations.

"US authorities had briefed us on their basic policy line ahead of the Bush-Hu talks on the sidelines of the ongoing informal leadership meeting of the APEC forum in Santiago the previous day, " Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said.

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