Fri, Jun 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan pays respects to Reagan's memory

CONDOLENCES A crowd of government officials and members of the public signed an official book of condolences at the American Cultural Center in Taipei yesterday

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ahead of former US President Ronald Reagan's state funeral in Washington today, government officials, diplomats and the people of Taiwan paid respects to the Taiwan-friendly US leader by signing a book of condolences provided by the American Cultural Center in Taipei yesterday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement praising Reagan's long-time support for Taiwan's democracy.

"Mr. Reagan was a firm friend of all democracies. Our government and people deeply regret the passing away of the former US president," the statement said. "President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) sent their condolences to Mr. Reagan's family."

The ministry has decided to send Control Yuan President Frederick Chien (錢復), a former foreign minister and top representative to the US, as Taiwan's special envoy to attend Reagan's state funeral.

"Chien has a close relationship with the US and had opportunities to meet Reagan on many occasions. He is the right person to represent Taiwan to join Reagan's funeral," Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau said after signing the book of condolences.

Chien and his wife departed for Washington yesterday afternoon.

Chen Chien-jen (程建仁), outgoing head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, will also attend the funeral.

Kau described the "Six Assurances," which the Reagan administration gave Taipei in July 1982, as one of the most important milestones in Taiwan-US relations.

In the Six Assurances, the Reagan administration promised Taiwan that it would not set a date for the ending of arms sales to Taiwan; not consult with China on arms sales; not play a mediation role between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan; not revise the Taiwan Relations Act; change its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan; nor exert pressure on Taipei to enter into negotiations with Beijing.

The Six Assurances came as the Reagan administration's efforts to soften the blow to Taiwan after the US and China signed the 817 Communique, which called for a reduction of US arms sales to Taiwan.

Judith Mudd-Krijgelmans, spokesperson for the American Institute in Taiwan, thanked Kau for the ministry's condolence.

"We will always remember the `Great Communicator,' especially for his support for US public diplomacy," Judith wrote in the book of condolences of her memory of the victor of the Cold War, one of whose most famous quotes is "the march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history."

Reagan visited Taiwan twice during the 1970s. On Oct. 9, 1971, Reagan, then the governor of California, arrived at Taipei as former US President Richard Nixon's special representative to attend the Republic of China's (ROC) National Day celebrations on Oct. 10.

Reagan, accompanied by his wife. Nancy Reagan, said upon arrival in Taipei that he carried a message of good will from Nixon to Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), then president of the ROC. Reagan said he was glad to participate in the 60th anniversary of the founding of the republic.

In 1978, one year before the US switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing, Reagan again visited Taipei by invitation of Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), now chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, to deliver a speech at a conference hosted by the Sino-American Cultural and Economic Association.

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