Sat, Jul 05, 2003 - Page 3 News List

China not showning good will: Chen


Japanese newspaper said yesterday that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was pessimistic about the possibility of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait resuming dialogue before the end of his term of office next May.

In an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, Chen was quoted as saying that China had not shown goodwill toward Taiwan.

For one thing, Chen said, China has never apologized for spreading SARS to Taiwan nor has it ever furnished Taiwan with information about its SARS situation.

Second, Chen said, China has spared no effort to block Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) -- the governing body of the World Health Organization(WHO) -- as an observer.

"Even though we applied only for observership at the WHO's annual assembly, not for full membership, Beijing still fiercely opposed our bid," Chen said, adding that a Chinese delegate's remarks at this year's WHA meeting held in Geneva in May hurt the feelings of Taiwan's people.

In response to a press inquiry about why Beijing was opposed to Taiwan's WHA presence, the Chinese delegate said belligerently: "Who cares about Taiwan?"

Chen said he is disappointed with the new Chinese leadership as it has not changed Beijing's high-handed attitude toward Taiwan.

The daily said Chen also accused the WHO of discriminating against Taiwan in handling the SARS epidemic.

Chen said the Geneva-based world health watchdog body is expected to lift Taiwan from its list of SARS-affected areas today. However, he said, Taiwan would have been removed from the list much earlier had Beijing had not interfered with the WHO's operations.

Touching on the opening of direct cross-strait transportation links, Chen said that as the issue involves national security and the exercise of public authority, such as enforcement of exit, entry and quarantine regulations, the two sides must sit down to talk and flesh out detailed measures.

"We cannot authorize a private organization to handle the issue. The government must guide all negotiations. And if China continues to insist on its so-called `one China' principle, we cannot open direct cross-strait shipping and air links," Chen was quoted as saying.

The Mainichi Shimbun said as the SARS fallout has prompted Chen to toughen his stance toward Beijing, an early opening of direct cross-strait transportation links has virtually become impossible.

In the interview, the paper said, Chen also divulged that the US government has assured his administration that it will not sacrifice Taiwan's interests while forging closer ties with China.

Chen said he believes that the US will honor its commitment because Taiwan's sustainable development is in the interests of the US. If Taiwan were to become part of China, he said, US interests in the West Pacific would be affected.

On the referendum issue, Chen said he already promised in his inaugural speech that his administration would not hold a referendum on Taiwan's status during his tenure so long as Beijing doesn't attack the island.

"This commitment remains valid," Chen said.

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