Thu, May 02, 2002 - Page 3 News List

NY mayor stands up for Taiwan

UNINTIMIDATED Just after meeting with China's vice president, Michael Bloomberg referred to Taiwan as a `country' and said he would meet with its officials any time


New York Mayor Michael Bloom-berg has stirred up a political storm by referring to Taiwan as a country, much like China, and by saying he "certainly would meet with Taiwanese officials."

Bloomberg, who replaced Rudolph Guiliani early this year, made the comments after meeting with Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on Monday, the New York Sun reported Tuesday.

After meeting with Hu, Bloomberg was asked if he would consider meeting with representatives of the government of Taiwan. He replied that he "certainly would" and that he "would certainly welcome visitors from either country."

An editorial in the new newspaper, which only began circulating on April 16, recalled that Bloomberg's predecessor was even more blunt and honest by maintaining "a memorably principled policy."

Guiliani famously refused twice to meet with top Chinese officials, according to the editorial, which noted that President Jiang Zemin (江澤民) was in New York in 1997 and Premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) was in the city in 1999.

It pointed out that US policy that recognizes China and acknowledges its "one China" policy has meant that leaders of Taiwan are unable to come to the US on state visits.

They are allowed transit, however, and when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) passed through the city in 2001, Guiliani made a point of meeting with him in the presidential suite of the Waldorf, it added.

When Bloomberg met with Hu, it said, the new mayor "at least made it clear that he was prepared to meet also with the Free Chinese leadership and suggested he thinks of Taiwan as a country."

The New York Sun said friends of Taiwan in America viewed Bloomberg's remarks as expressing "a reality which the State Department and the Bush administration have insisted on denying -- that the Republic of China on Taiwan is, like the People's Republic of China on the mainland, a country of its own."

The director general of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, Andrew Hsia (夏立言), said Bloomberg "was simply stating the reality." Hsia added that he fully expects Bloomberg to honor his pledge to meet with Taiwanese officials in addition to Chinese officials as he said "he certainly would."

The deputy executive director of the New American Century, Tom Donelly, told the newspaper that "the fiction that Taiwan is part of China is increasingly difficult to credit."

"I'm not surprised that Mayor Bloomberg might have inadvertently let the truth get out," he added.

The report quoted Donnely as saying that the "one China" policy advanced by China has become increasingly difficult for the US to maintain as Taiwan has democratized and as US relations with China have grown tense.

"The world has changed, Taiwan has changed," he was quoted as adding.

The daily then quoted a senior Senate Republican foreign affairs staffer of Senator Jesse Helms, a long time supporter of Taiwan, as saying Bloomberg's remarks "represent the basic good instinct of the American people."

The staffer, speaking on condition of anonymity, added that "these are actually two countries, and one of them is a democracy."

A spokesman for the PRC consulate in New York declined to comment on Bloomberg's remarks, the report said.

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