Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 3 News List

US Democrats are bound by US law: foreign ministry

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday played down the absence of an endorsement of the Taiwan Relations Act in the US Democratic Party's campaign book for the presidential election, saying that the law would be followed no matter which party was in power.

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry and his vice presidential running mate, Senator John Edwards, have pledged to continue supplying Taiwan with defensive weapons if they are elected in November.

However, in their 252-page campaign book, Our Plan for America: Stronger at Home, Respected in the World, which was released on Monday, the Democratic hopefuls did not specifically endorse the Act, on which the arms-sales pledge is based.

Ministry spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) said that the campaign book focuses on issues about which the American people are most concerned, such as combating anti-terrorism, national security and Iraq.

"The book gives only general comments on other foreign-affairs matters. On the China-Taiwan problem, it says that the cross-strait issue should be resolved through peaceful means," Shih said.

He said the book's reference to cross-strait affairs "displays the Democratic Party's friendliness toward Taiwan."

"The Democratic Party tried to be concise when stating its policies in the campaign book. That is why this year's campaign book is much shorter than in 2000," he added.

Shih said that the Act is a US law, and that although the campaign book did not mention the document, the Democratic Party still had to abide by the law if it wins the presidential election.

The US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. It states that the US should be able to "resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion" should Taiwan be attacked and that it should provide arms "of a defensive nature" to Taipei so that the latter can "maintain a self-sufficient defense capacity."

Reiterating the Democratic Party's commitment to a "one China" policy and a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, the campaign book goes further to say the candidates "support Taiwan's vibrant democracy and robust economy and will maintain America's commitment to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons."

Meanwhile, Shih declined to comment on a US Senate delegation's rebuff of China's demand in Beijing on Tuesday that Washington stop arms sales to Taiwan.

Senate leader Ted Stevens, whose delegation met a number of Chinese leaders, including Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), also ruled out the possibility that the US would repeal the Taiwan Relations Act.

Speaking to reporters, he pointedly said that the arms sales were a result of China's military build-up.

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