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Tue, Aug 08, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Top presidential adviser submits resignation

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) accepted the resignation of senior presidential advisor Ding Mou-shih (丁懋時) yesterday, according to acting secretary-general to the Presidential Office, Chen Che-nan (陳哲男).

"President Chen will respect Ding's wish to resign," said Chen at the weekly presidential press conference yesterday morning, refusing to make further comments on Ding's resignation.

While it was widely expected that the deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council, Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), would take Ding's place, Chen denied that Chiou would replace Ding as the presidential envoy to the US.

"President Chen will follow the institutional procedures to improve relations with the US, so everything will be done above-board with no `secret envoys' going to the US," he said, adding that Taiwan's representative to the US was in full charge of developing diplomatic ties.

Chiou also denied that he had any knowledge of being considered for the post.

Ding, a 75-year-old career diplomat and former secretary-general of both the National Security Council and Presidential Office, had expressed his wish to retire several times over the past few years.

Ding has previously said that it was time for someone younger to take over his job.

However, Ding's agility in handling cross-strait tensions and his familiarity with the foreign service had made him the right-hand man of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), especially during the cross-strait missile crisis in 1996.

Ding was highly recommended by Lee to help President Chen establish unofficial communication channels with the US since he had served six years as Taipei's "unofficial" representative to the US in Washington from 1988 to 1993. He also conducted many rounds of secret meetings with top officials in the US.

"Nevertheless, Ding's stepping down won't influence the operation of the National Security Council. Our communication channels with the US have been working smoothly even though former president Lee had established many other channels," said a member of the NSC, who declined to be identified.

The source said that Ding had many accomplishments during his years of public service and hinted that Ding would still provide advice to the Chen whenever the president asked for advice.

Observers say the reason President Chen was willing to accept Ding's resignation immediately was that new communication channels with the US will need to be established in any event, following the presidential election in the US in November.

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