Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 3 News List

US relations still solid, says MAC

NATIONAL SECURITY Council chairman Joseph Wu said US officials are holding firm on Taiwan policy, but added that Taipei needed to explain its policies more carefully

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Relations between Taiwan and Washington are "still solid," despite efforts by China to split Washington and Taipei, Mainland Affairs Coun-cil (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said on Wednesday.

"The attitude of the Bush administration toward cross-strait issues still seems to be quite firm," Wu told the Taipei Times at the end of the first day of his two-day visit to Washington, where he is holding meetings with academics, congressmen and US officials.

Wu said he arrived at this conclusion based on the reports of US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's meetings with top Chinese leaders last week.

In those meetings, "even through the Chinese side seemed to apply a tremendous amount of pressure on the American side, and tried to paint President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in a negative manner, telling the national security advisor that Chen is not trustworthy and things like that, the national security advisor did not seem to be moved by such pressure," Wu said.

A key lesson of his talks in Washington was that Taiwan must make a greater effort in explaining its policies toward US policymakers and academics, Wu said.

While the experts that he met understood the issues "quite well," they were concerned that "some other people are not able to understand fully what's going on in Taiwan," Wu said.

He added that in view of China's efforts to portray Taiwan in a negative way in the US, "we have to spend more time in trying to counter those efforts by China."

Thus, he said, not only government officials, but also Taiwanese academics should make more trips to Washington to explain government policy.

He said his talks with the think tanks were "frank," although the Americans did not criticize Chen's actions or policies.

"I've learned a great deal on this trip," Wu said.

Wu said that, after returning to Taipei, "I'm sure that I am going to make a report [to Chen] in a proper way, so we know how to handle some of the things that we might not have done enough of," such as promoting more meetings between US and Taiwanese academics.

Wu said that he spent "a great deal of time" on Wednesday arguing that Taiwan and China need to engage in dialogue "because there are many issues that can only be solved through dialogue and negotiations."

In view of the extensive relations between China and Taiwan in the economic, trade, tourism, cultural and educational spheres, Wu said, negotiations are very important.

"The two sides have to sign some serious agreements with each other concerning ... issues in all of these [areas]," he said.

The think tanks Wu met with, however, realized that China is "stubborn," and said they thought China would not change its position any time soon, he said.

"They understand that Taiwan is not the one that is trying to postpone or delay cross-strait negotiations," he said.

"The US effort in trying to facilitate a more conducive atmosphere for cross-strait dialogue is welcomed in Taiwan. We appreciate the efforts of the US side to try to facilitate such an environment," he said.

Wu declined to name the Bush administration officials he met or to discuss any of the issues they raised.

However, it is believed that he met with senior officials from the US National Security Council and the State Department.

Wu and Lin Fang-mei (林芳玫), the chairwoman of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs, were to fly to Boston yesterday, the third stop in their US trip, before returning home.

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