Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office, Lee, brush off Wen's comments

REBUFF Remarks by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao were criticized as misguided sentiment as well as being unhelpful

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AP

The Presidential Office yesterday urged Beijing's leaders to concentrate their attention on understanding what people of Taiwan really want instead of wasting time in making sentimental appeals to Chinese nationalism.

"While President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has endeavored to maintain the peace in the Taiwan Strait since he took over the power, it is China's ballistic missiles deployed to target Taiwan that pose the biggest threat to regional peace," said James Huang (黃志芳), the Presidential Office spokesman.

Huang was asked by reporters yesterday to comment on those remarks made by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) during his US visit.

Wen first displayed a tough tone against Taiwan in New York, saying the Chinese government would not renounce the possibility of using military force against Taiwan and would not tolerate any separatist force attempting to use democratic practices such as a referendum as "a cover" to achieve independence.

A day later, he turned to literary allusion, citing a line from the famous poet Yu Kuang-chung (余光中) to describe his feelings about the split between Taiwan and China.

"The curving, shallow strait is our biggest national grief, our biggest nostalgia," Wen told a group of Chinese supporters in New York.

Yu fled to Taiwan in 1949 with the KMT forces at the end of the Chinese civil war. About 20 years later he wrote, "Nostalgia is the curving, shallow Strait. I'm on this side, the mainland on the other."

"In fact, those 496 ballistic missiles rather than the [Taiwan] Strait, are the shadow and pressure on the people of both sides of the Strait," Huang said.

"To show off with sentimental poetry will do nothing good to improve the cross-strait relationship," he said, "and therefore, we sincerely hope that China's leaders should clearly understand what people of Taiwan are concerned about and expect."

As to the question whether Wen's visit will have a negative impact on US-Taiwan relations, Huang stressed that the communications and interactions between Taiwan and the US are good, and "without any gaps."

"The president has expounded his idea in implementing a national referendum, and the US government also made its stance clear," Huang said.

"The US understands that the president's defensive referendum has no relation to the independence and will not violate his `five noes' promise," Huang said.

"We also understand that the US government's remarks about not supporting any referendum that will lead to a change in Taiwan's status quo," he said.

"Both sides agree on each others and there is no gap between us on the referendum," Huang said.

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) also said yesterday that Wen's remarks proved to the international community how completely ignorant China's leaders are about democracy.

"Taiwan is a democratic country while China is a communist country," Lee said when asked by the reporters to comment on Wen's remarks.

"Those people who regard a democratic development as a divisive movement are not qualified to talk about democracy," he said.

"Not to mention the question of how there could be nostalgia between two different coun-tries," Lee said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) was equally dismissive.

"We can't feel the warmth of Wen's remarks," he said.

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