Thu, Jun 21, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan slams US remarks on UN bid

THE PEOPLE'S WILL The government was quick to defend its plan for a referendum on UN membership after some strong comments from the US State Department

By Charles Snyder, Jimmy Chuang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS IN WASHINGTON AND TAIPEI

"I can read it to you again, if you like," McCormack said.

"That won't be necessary," the reporter responded.

McCormack also refused to respond to a questioner who noted that Taiwan is a democracy and that Chen was responding to polls that showed that 80 percent of the voters support Taiwan's bid for UN membership.

In Taipei, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) voiced his support yesterday for Taiwan to join the UN, but condemned the government for taking an aggressive approach with its referendum campaign.

"We approve of any efforts seeking Taiwan's participation in international organizations, but we must adopt a feasible approach," Ma said in Nangang.

He accused the government of manipulating the UN bid issue.

"Most Taiwanese people want the country to return to the international community. I believe the purpose of the referendum is not to `understand public opinion,' because the people's voice is clear," he said.

Arguing that the US was opposed to the referendum plan because of the politics behind it, Ma said the government should prioritize its efforts to join international organizations and adopt more practical measures.

Citing the example of Taiwan's entrance into the WTO under the name "The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu" and APEC under the name "Chinese Taipei," Ma said that the government should show flexibility.

"What's more important is to increase the opportunities for us to attend international events with dignity," he said.

Ma declined to say what name the country should use to apply to international groups.

KMT Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) responded to McCormack's statements by saying that the US had clearly voiced its "opposition" to the referendum bid, instead of "not supporting" it.

"[That] reflects the fact that the US regards the move to join the UN under the name of `Taiwan' as an act of de jure independence," Chiang said.

He disagreed with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers who said the US was meddling in Taiwan's domestic affairs.

"When meeting with AIT [American Institute in Taiwan] Chairman Raymond Burghardt [on June 14], President Chen demanded the US restate its `six assurances' to Taiwan. Was the president asking the US to interfere in Taiwan's domestic affairs?" Chiang said.

People First Party Legislator Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) urged Chen to take McCormack's words seriously, saying it was unlikely that the US was using a "two-pronged strategy" of opposing the plan publicly while supporting it privately.

"I hope that President Chen will not be impetuous enough to launch the bid just to show his bravery," Hwang said.

That West Germany and East Germany were both UN members before their reunificiation and North Korea and South Korea both have seats in the UN shows that a divided country is allowed to join the world body, Hwang said.

But such membership could be achieved through "negotiations" with the US and China rather than making a "mad dash" for it, he said.

KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) said McCormack's press conference had proved that the president's UN plan was unrealistic.

"Everyone, including the KMT, would be happy to see the country's entry into the UN under the name Taiwan, but will the name do the trick when the country's formal name -- Republic of China -- is not accepted?" Hsu said.

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