Sat, Dec 25, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Mark Chen says US opposes China bill

THREAT TO STABILITY The foreign minister said the US was opposed to Beijing's draft law, which aims to stop Taiwan from declaring independence

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The US considers China's proposed anti-secession law to be a threat to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) said yesterday.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress will start a four-day discussion of the law today, Chen told reporters at a tea party. He added that the last thing the US wanted to see now was a conflict between Taiwan and China.

If China insisted on enacting the law, "the people of Taiwan will definitely react to it and tensions will rise," Chen said.

After recent communication with Washington concerning the anti-secession law, Chen said he could say with "firm assurance" that the US sees the law as "a move to change the status quo."

"The US doesn't welcome the law. If Washington continues with its current stance over the law, it will apply pressure on China," he said.

Chen said that China chose this time to introduce the anti-secession bill because it knew the US needed its help in Iraq and North Korea.

"Beijing could have issued the proposal much earlier, but it kept delaying announcement of this until now. It is very careful in handling the issue," Chen said.

"The US doesn't want problems in the Taiwan Strait, but China deliberately brought up the bill now to force Washington to pay attention to the Taiwan problem," he said.

Chen said the US and China "use each other" to solve problems that concern them most.

Playing down recent comments by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage that Taiwan is one of the biggest landmines in China-US relations, Chen said that based on information received from US officials he was sure that the Washington's Taiwan policy had not changed.

Chen said that what he desired most for Taiwan-US relations were the direct communication channels which senior Chinese and US officials enjoy.

The nation has suffered a lot because it cannot explain many issues to Washington directly, Chen said.

"Some visiting US academics once asked me what I want most in our relations with the US. I told them I want a `hotline' between the two sides," Chen said.

He added that better communication channels could reduce misunderstandings between the two countries.

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