Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

US will applaud election result: Chen

INTENSE COMMUNICATION Regardless of who wins the election later this month, the US will congratulate the nation for another peaceful step on the road of democracy

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The US is expected to applaud Taiwan's democratic progress after the March 20 presidential election, the representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington Chen Chien-jen (程建人) said Tuesday.

The turbulence in the Taiwan-US relationship caused by President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) referendum proposal has gradually been smoothed over after intense communication between both countries about the issue for more than two months.

"The referendum has heightened US concerns about this year's presidential election in Taiwan. But continuing communications over the issue over the past two months have furthered the US' understanding of the vote," said Chen Chien-jen.

Taiwan's de facto ambassador, however, admitted that some concern remained in the US about the presidential election.

"But the concerns are not necessarily related to the referendum," he added.

"The impression I got from communicating with US officials regarding the referendum is that the US highly approves Taiwan's democracy. I would expect the US to respond positively to Taiwan after the March 20 vote," said the representative.

According to Chen Chien-jen, the US has been closely observing Taiwan's presidential election, but has avoided giving the impression that it is trying to interfere with the poll.

"The US has repeatedly emphasized its neutrality on the election," he said.

US President George W. Bush's administration has been studying how to react to the Taiwan election.

"No matter which candidate wins the election, the US should know how to respond," Chen Chien-jen said.

It is unlikely the US will make any further comments about Taiwan's referendum before March 20, said the representative, "but the US will pay close attention to Taiwan from March 20 to May 20 [the date of the presidential inauguration]."

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), the opposition presidential candidate, vowed to visit the US to "repair" Taiwan-US ties, which he claimed had been damaged by Chen.

Chen Chien-jen declined to speculate about the feasibility of Lien's proposal. Whether Lien will be able to visit the US is "up to the US government," he said.

With Massachusetts Senator John Kerry now effectively the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, reporters asked how Chen Chien-jen interpreted the senator's public announcement of support for China's "one country, two systems" policy.

TECRO sent papers explaining Taiwan's stance on China's cross-strait formula to Kerry after he made the comments, said the representative.

The statement said Taiwan rejected the "one country, two systems" formula and Chen's government cited Beijing's tightening grip on Hong Kong's democratic development to explain how the formula failed to work when it was applied to a democracy by an authoritative regime.

"We need also to pay attention to Kerry's latest remarks regarding cross-strait affairs. He said should a crisis occur in the Taiwan Strait, he would -- like former US president Bill Clinton -- dispatch fleets to protect Taiwan," he noted.

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