Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 3 News List

MOFA says US won't interfere in Taiwan's affairs

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday it did not know of any interactions between the opposition parties and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) when asked to comment on the pan-blue camp's appeal to the US for help in solving the election dispute.

After losing the presidential election by a wafer-thin margin, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and his running mate, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), requested that US experts participate in an investigation of the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on the eve of the election.

Victor Chin (秦日新), director general of the ministry's Department of North American Affairs, said political parties do not need to communicate with US officials through the ministry.

"But I believe the US will adhere to its principle of not interfering in other countries' internal and election affairs," Chin said.

So far the US has made no comment about the failed referendum, he said.

The referendum, proposed by Chen, asked the public whether it wanted the government to strengthen the nation's anti-missile defenses and whether the government should establish a "peace and stability framework" with China.

When Chen won the 2000 presidential election, the White House sent him a congratulatory message. This year, however, the US government congratulated the Taiwanese people for conducting "a democratic election campaign." The message was issued by the State Department.

Asked to comment on the difference between the congratulatory notes from the White House and the State Department, Chin said the question should be addressed to the US government.

Ministry spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) said governments and political dignitaries from 62 countries had sent congratulatory notes for Chen's re-election by last night.

Meanwhile, an advisory committee to the Mainland Affairs Council convened yesterday to discuss the post-election cross-strait relationship.

Regarding Chen's plan to write a new constitution, the committee suggested that the government, when starting constitutional reform, take into account not only local opinion but also international concerns, especially those of the US and China.

The committee also urged the government to repair its relationship with the US, which is believed to have been damaged in the course of the campaign due to issues such as Chen's plans for a new constitution and the referendum.

Jan Jyh-horng (詹志宏), director of the council's planning department, said the advisory committee suggested the council try to understand Beijing's attitude toward the election result.

Lacking official communication channels with the Chinese authorities, the council can only speculate on Beijing's response to the presidential vote by looking at the Chinese media's reports on the election.

Jan said that Beijing seemed to have been deliberately limiting media coverage of the presidential election, which made it particularly difficult for council officials to know what Beijing was really thinking about the vote.

The committee said Taiwan and China should encourage more cross-strait academic exchanges.

While Taiwanese and Chinese officials cannot freely exchange opinions, academics from both sides should be allowed to discuss whatever topics they are interested in and act as a bridge between both sides' governments, the committee suggested.

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