Wed, Dec 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

AIT briefed on `five noes' threat

ASSURANCE A source said that US officials were given an extra briefing to clear up any misunderstandings after President Chen said he may revoke an earlier promise

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

To avoid further misunderstandings between Taiwan and the US, the Presidential Office on Monday briefed American Institute in Taiwan officials on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) threat to revoke his "five noes" promise, a government source told the Taipei Times yesterday.

"We hope that the US government can gain a full understanding of the president's ideas in the shortest time instead of having misunderstandings conveyed to them through fragmented media reports," the source said.

Chen told reporters on Monday that the five noes promise made in his inauguration speech no longer applied because of China's military threats against Taiwan.

Chen said that in the three years since taking over the presidency, he had made many concessions to China, especially in tolerating an upsurge in the number of ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan.

"But I cannot keep making compromises without any principle," Chen said. "Therefore, if China launches any missile tests, I will formally announce that the five noes promise no longer exists."

The source said that the president's tough stance highlighted his resolution to hold a referendum alongside the presidential election next March, and was a warning to Beijing not to provoke Taiwan.

"The defensive referendum, which the president now calls a `peace referendum,' can in no way be withdrawn," the source said.

"The president has no intention of raising tensions between Taiwan and China, yet he cannot escape the media's concern over the five noes," the official said.

Presidential Office Secretary General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) also stood by Chen, saying that the point of the president's remark was that he was still willing to compromise with China.

"The president is making his thoughts and words clearer to the international community," Chiou said. "The president did not prepare to talk about the five noes, he was answering the media's question about the issue," Chiou said. "The good thing is that he made his ideas clearer."

Chiou said that the referendum would have no bearing on independence or reunification but was just a measure to secure the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

"It is the Taiwanese government's bottom line, and President Chen strictly abides by it."

"The US government doesn't like Taiwan's defensive referendum, but it has never opposed it and we understand the US government's line," Chiou said.

"Logically speaking, the five noes do not exist, but in practical terms, the president has abided by it with all his efforts to seek peace," Chiou said.

"Speaking frankly, the president can no longer abide by the five noes since China's actions have not meet Chen's request," Chiou said. "But the president would like to compromise. However, the compromise should not be without limits -- as soon as any missile is launched, the five noes will be revoked," he said.

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