Tue, Mar 26, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Scholar denies link to Lee, Minghua project

Huang Lien-fu is a Taiwanese scholar based in the US who eight years ago introduced the Taiwan Research Institute to American public relations firm Cassidy and Associates, an introduction which led to the signing of a controversial US$2 million contract. In an interview with the `Liberty Times' on Sunday, he denied allegations that he dined with former president Lee Teng-hui at Taipei's Taotao Restaurantor or had ever heard of the Minghua project


Hong Kong's Sing Tao Daily (星島日報) recently reported that Taiwan tried to influence US Taiwan policy by using secret National Security Bureau (NSB) accounts. On what it called the Minghua project, the two figures said to have shuttled between the US and Taiwan were Carl W. Ford, now assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research in the George W. Bush administration, and Huang, who used to be Lee's student, according to the Sing Tao Daily. Taiwan spent NT$400,000 entertaining Ford during his visits to Taiwan, according to the report.

Currently teaching at Howard University, Huang for the first time publicly talked about the operations within Cassidy and Associates. Before and after working for Cassidy and Associates, Ford had openly supported Taiwan's national security and suggested that the US boost its arms sales to Taiwan, Huang said. Ford had not received illegal bribes from Taiwan, Huang asserts.

The following is an excerpt of the interview.

Taipei Times: Hong Kong's Sing Tao Daily reports that you and Ford are key figures in the Minghua project and tried to exercise influence on the Bush government's Taiwan policy. Would you please elaborate on that?

Huang Lien-fu (黃連福): Neither Cassidy and Associates nor myself have heard of the so-called Minghua project. When the public relations firm signed a contract with TRI, it did not ask from which account the money came. As for Ford, his expertise is in military matters, nuclear weapons and Sino-US relations. He has long been concerned about Taiwan's national security. When he served as an adviser to Cassidy and Associates, he put much effort into military problems.

At the Senate appointment hearing, Ford clearly outlined his visits to Taiwan and his concerns about the Taiwan Strait issue. Seventy percent of the reports he presented to the Senate were related to problems across the Taiwan Strait. Beijing has been constantly criticizing his stance for viewing China as an enemy. When working for Cassidy and Associates, Ford was justified in receiving money from Taiwan for his lobbying efforts. But he has his own points of view and often did free favors for Taiwan -- even before he worked for Cassidy and Associates.

Regarding the so-called classified documents reported in the Sing Tao Daily, there are many areas of untruth.

First of all, Lee once invited me and my wife to a Japanese steak house in Taipei. For the sake of security, the whole restaurant was booked out. So how could it be possible that Lee dined on Chungshan North Road in the downtown area? Therefore, I, Ford and Lee have never been to Taipei's Taotao restaurant.

Second, despite Ford's knowledge of military matters, it would be stretching the truth to credit him alone for the Taiwan arms sales. The sales involved a complex policy-making process and debates under several governments. For instance, before the Bush government decided the content of its arms sales to Taiwan last year, several mainstream US newspapers ran stories on Taiwan's needs for military procurement. The assistant to Jesse Helms, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also submitted relevant reports. All these have nothing to do with Cassidy and Associates. So the arms sales are definitely not something Ford alone can control.

TT: The Sing Tao Daily said your were former president Lee's student and has played an important role. Can you explain your role between the Taiwan Research Institute and Cassidy and Associates?

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