Sat, Apr 22, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan welcomes Bush remarks

CLARIFICATION Although the nation was not a major topic of discussion at the Bush-Hu summit, Taiwanese officials were happy with President Bush's comments

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

US President George W. Bush grabs Chinese President Hu Jintao's jacket to keep him from walking down the stairs during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Thursday.

PHOTO: EPA

Government officials yesterday welcomed US President George W Bush's reiteration of Washington's stance on Taiwan in his talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Bush met Hu at the White House in Washington on Thursday, where the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues including trade, human rights, nuclear proliferation and Taiwan.

"In his welcome speech on the White House's South Lawn, President Bush reiterated the US commitment to peace across the Taiwan Strait. [Bush said that] the US would uphold its `one China' policy based on the three Sino-US communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, remained opposed to any side unilaterally changing the status quo, and that Taiwan's future must be resolved peacefully," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"This shows that the US policy remains consistent and unchanged. This shows that the US takes the issue of peace in the Taiwan Strait seriously and remains committed to preserving that peace," the statement said.

Taiwan watched nervously as Bush and Hu held their summit at the White House, fearing that Bush might publicly criticize President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Although Bush did not say he was opposed to Taiwanese independence, he did say that he did not support it.

Analysts in Taiwan pointed out that Bush saying "I do not support" did not amount to a declaration of opposition.

Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) noted that Taiwan was not the focus of the Bush-Hu meeting. Huang said that the US president's comments that he opposed any provocative acts by either side which could change the "status quo" were in line with Taiwanese policy.

Huang commented on Hu's reaction to a question from the press regarding when China would be democratized in which the Chinese president said that he didn't know the definition of "democracy."

"To most people, it's a simple question. Democracy is about people being able to choose their own leader, participate in the policy-making process and that minority opinions are respected and protected," Huang said.

Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Chairman You Ying-lung (游盈隆) said that Bush's remarks that "We [the US] believe the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully" dealt a severe blow to China's "Anti-secession" Law.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he appreciated Bush's support for Taiwan's democracy and maintaining peace across the strait.

While extending gratitude to Bush for reaffirming the US commitment to Taiwan, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun criticized Hu for calling Taiwan "a part of China."

Hu "upheld the `one China' principle, excluding Taiwanese freedom to opt for independence," Yu said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said Bush's statement on cross-strait relations was a "reiteration of the common stance shared by seven previous US presidents."

Saying the government's action on the National Unification Council had impacted on US-Taiwan relations, Ma said: "We need to be extra careful because even a seemingly insignificant act of negligence could be interpreted as changing the status quo unilaterally."

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang and Mo Yan-chih

Also see stories:

`Bu-Hu' meeting bedeviled by flubs

Chinese media whitewashes Hu visit

Pro-Taiwan demonstrators denounce China's buildup

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