Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 1 News List

US revises references to Taiwan after complaint

`CORRECTIONS' MADE Taipei objected to references to Taiwan included in two articles released by the US Armed Forces Press Service on Saturday and Sunday

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The US Department of Defense has revised articles carried by its official news service that made reference to Taiwan after complaints from Taiwanese officials in Washington.

The officials objected to references contained in articles released by the Armed Forces Press Service on Saturday and Sunday about US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' trip to China, where he discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, including China's breakneck military expansion and Taiwan.

On Monday, the press service eliminated the offending references from the articles on its Web site and the Pentagon's spokesman for East Asian affairs, Major Stewart Upton, conceded that the original references were "inaccurate."

This was after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had instructed Taiwanese Representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) to ask for "clarification" on the articles.

"The first thing in the morning [on Monday], on instructions from Taipei, we [got] in touch with the Pentagon, the State Department and some of the relevant government agencies," Deputy Representative Stanley Kao (高碩泰) told the Taipei Times.

"Very quickly we got the response from the American authorities that the US cross-strait policy remains unchanged," Kao said.

"So, quickly the Pentagon made the correction. We are appreciative of this response, the quick rectification of the US position," he said.

"We will continue to [ensure] that people involved in news releases, without looking into the nuances, the subtlety of this very sensitive cross-strait issue, no longer make any mistakes that cause misunderstanding or uneasiness," Kao said.

"We are satisfied with the corrections. Hopefully, that is the end of the story," he said.

Gates arrived in Beijing on Sunday for two days of talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and other leaders before moving on to South Korea and Japan. It is Gates' first visit to China since he replaced Donald Rumsfeld in December.

In an article on Saturday previewing Gates' trip, press service reporter Jim Garamone described US policy on cross-strait relations as "a sincere desire to see reunification done in a peaceful manner." Garamone also referred to the government's planned referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan" as an "independence referendum."

The next day, another Garamone article said the US was "against independence for the island nation."

Those three references were removed from the articles on Monday. The article released on Sunday carried this editor's note: "This article was modified from the form in which it was originally published to correct our coverage." Saturday's archived article contained no such note.

The revised articles say only that: "The Chinese are concerned about the up-coming referendum in Taiwan which the United States also opposes."

They no longer contain any reference to "independence."

US policy is now described as "a sincere desire to see the Taiwan issue resolved in a peaceful manner." The word "reunification" is not mentioned.

Sunday's article says merely that "The US delegation expects the Chinese to also bring up Taiwan."

Upton said US policy on Taiwan is "consistent and clear."

"The United States remains committed to a peaceful resolution in a manner acceptable to the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the United States opposes unilateral change, by either side, to the `status quo,'" he said.

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