Promising to mend relations with the US if elected, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday thanked American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chair-man Raymond Burghardt for his concern over the impact the UN referendum could have on the nation's next leader.
"His remarks were warm-hearted and well-intentioned," Hsieh said, adding that he agreed with a lot of what Burghardt had said.
Burghardt, who met with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at the Presidential Office on Monday, warned Chen not to make any decisions during the remainder of his term in office that would cause problems for his successor.
Hsieh said he knew very well that Chen would continue to set national policies until he steps down on May 20 next year and that the nation's next president would take over thereafter.
"Don't worry. I don't think President Chen will do anything that will have a negative influence on me or make any decisions on my behalf," he said. "That is the way we have interacted with each other over the past 20 years."
Hsieh answered questions about Burghardt's comments while attending a book launch in Taipei. The book, Striving for Victory in Adversity, was written by Kuo Chiung-li (
Hsieh said the US remained a good friend of Taiwan, but added that he did not think Burghardt's comments marked the last time the US would publicly oppose the government-backed referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan."
"While we listen to what our friends say and consider it carefully, we must also think about our own national interests," he said.
"We must exercise our power wisely and creatively because the country faces constant adversity," he said.
Hsieh said that while he would seek to build trust between the US and Taiwan, there were many ways of achieving this goal.
These included regular direct communications with the US and the international community and cooperation with NGOs, he said.
While governments normally focus on consolidating relations with the ruling parties of their nation's diplomatic allies, Hsieh said he would pay equal attention to developing ties with opposition parties if elected.
Commenting on cross-strait relations, Hsieh said that smaller countries like Taiwan must exercise "smart power" in dealing with bigger countries like China.
Bigger countries, on the other hand, must learn to be more tolerant and conciliatory to their smaller counterparts, he said.
"It is meaningless to tell the lamb to peacefully co-exist with the tiger, it is more meaningful to tell the tiger to co-exist with the lamb," he said.
Taiwan is at a critical juncture, Hsieh said, and politicians and the public must consider how to turn things around.
Meanwhile, Chen said yesterday that the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) referendum on UN membership was intended only to spoil the DPP's referendum proposal. The public would soon see through this ploy, he said.
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