Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen Chien-jen's performance upsets KMT

VETERAN DIPLOMAT Taiwan's top representative to the US brushes off criticism he has sided with the DPP and says he is only furthering national interests

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The success of President Chen's stopover in New York last week should be attributed to the nation's top representative to the US, Chen Chien-jen (程建人), many overseas pro-independence groups said, adding that no one in the DPP or the government can do a better job than the veteran diplomat.

"Chen has long and stable connections with the two parties [the Republicans and Democrats] and the US Congress and government," said Joyce Chang (張瓊雅), executive director of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA).

"From the later period of Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) administration and after the rotation of political parties, Chen has been the first window for the US government to access Taiwan," she said.

"He has developed connections in Washington for more than 30 years," Chang said.

Many government heavyweights have known Chen since they were junior [officials]," she said.

"His connections in Washington are irreplaceable," she said.

Chen, a former member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has won the support of the DPP and the trust of the US government, and pro-independence overseas Taiwanese like him. However, his solid diplomatic performance has resulted in criticism from his KMT comrades.

In the past month, Chen was under a lot of pressure as both KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) visited the US.

It was a big challenge for Chen Chien-jen, who serves as representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, to receive the president and Lien.

Chen Chien-jen chose to keep a low profile when Lien visited the US, which irritated Lien's aides.

Lien's wife, Fang Yu (方瑀), even refused to accept flowers from Chen Chien-jen's wife, Yolanda Ho (何友蘭), arguing that Chen Chien-jen had pledged loyalty to Chen Shui-bian and betrayed Lien.

After seeing Chen Shui-bian make his breakthrough trip in New York, they questioned Chen Chien-jen's loyalty to the KMT and ignored his efforts to promote a better relationship between Taiwan and the US.

"The KMT and DPP still have their old framework of authority," said Tsai Ming-hsien (蔡明憲), a former DPP lawmaker who is now Taiwan's deputy representative in the US.

"To them, party members are subordinates, not national assets," Tsai said.

A senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said two events forced the US to re-establish its communication mechanism with Taiwan: former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) "special state-to-state" remark in 1999 and the DPP's taking power in 2000.

Chen Chien-jen, who has over 30 years of experience in the diplomatic field and once served as deputy representative to the US, has formed deep relationships with both the Republican and Democratic parties.

"Therefore, President Chen expected Chen Chien-jen to assist the DPP government in maintaining the Taiwan-US relationship," the official said. "In addition, Chen Chien-jen, who has promised to devote his life to diplomatic work, would not reject the president's sincerity."

"Before the DPP won power and formally took office, both diplomatic allies and non-diplomatic allies were nervous," said Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office.

"Chen Chien-jen, who was foreign minister at the time, invited ambassadors and representatives from both diplomatic allies and non-diplomatic allies to briefings in order to stabilize foreign relations for the new ruling party," Wu said.

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