Wed, May 21, 2003 - Page 4 News List

US will not make Taiwan deal with China over Korea

WASHINGTON Taiwan's US representative Chen Chien-jen said that the assurance was made to him from people within the Bush administration

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The US has assured Taiwan that it will not compromise Washington's commitments to Taiwan to gain China's support and cooperation in dealing with North Korea's nuclear threat, Taiwan's top man in Washington says.

"I have been assured repeatedly by our friends in the US administration that it will not happen," Chen Chieh-jen (程建人), the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, said Monday.

Chen made his comments in answer to a question after a keynote luncheon address to a seminar on the first three years of the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) presidency at George Washington University.

"Taiwan is very much on the side of the United States on this issue," Chen told several hundred scholars, government officials, journalists and others interested in Taiwan affairs. "We don't like to see North Korea going nuclear, and we don't like to see [that] government continue to suppress its people," he said.

"If theirs is anything we can do by working together with the United States, we're more than willing to do that," he said.

Nevertheless, he added, Taiwan does have concerns over the implications of the North Korea issue.

"There have been so many contacts between Beijing and Washington on this particular issue, that there are talks about possible trade-offs on this particular North Korea issue," he said.

Nevertheless, US President George W. Bush administration officials have laid these fears to rest, he said.

"So, I do trust our friends in the administration. I see no reason why on this particular issue the United States would compromise its relations with Taiwan in order to accommodate Beijing," he said.

Earlier in the program, Chen Tuan-yao, a scholar with the university and with the Institute of International Relations in Taiwan, said that the North Korea issue is part of the "rising uncertainties" about future US-Taiwan relations.

He said the issue is a "serious challenge" to Bush, who now "must rely on" China for its support and help in sorting out the problem. Chinese officials want concessions in exchange for their help, he said, adding that the issue will affect the balance of power in the region and will affect US-Taiwan relations.

However, another participant, Georgetown University professor and former Congressional Research Service China chief Robert Sutter supported Chen's position.

"I think the administration is very clear on their support for Taiwan. These are individuals who are very experienced in dealing with China. They know their definition of American interests in Taiwan is very clear, and I think they know what they are doing," Sutter said after the conference.

China, which earlier had sought trade-offs from Washington, "knows that that's a non-starter now. They can't play that game any more with these guys," Sutter said.

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