Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 3 News List

MOFA denies US intervention

PEACEFUL RESOLUTION The foreign affairs ministry spokesman said not to believe rumors that the US had pressured China and Taiwan to cancel their military exercises

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomed yesterday the US Republican Party's support for Taiwan as outlined in the platform approved in the party's national convention in New York, but declined to comment on whether the US had urged China and Taiwan to call off the recently-canceled war games.

The platform pledged to defend Taiwan from any move by Beijing to forcibly unify it with China, stressing "all issues regarding Taiwan's future must be resolved peacefully and must be agreeable to the people of Taiwan."

It also vowed to oppose any unilateral change to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and to support Taiwan's efforts to join the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations.

"We welcome the US' support. In this year's World Health Assembly, the US not only spoke for us, but also voted for our bid to join the WHO. We have been actively working toward the goal [of entering the organization]," ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said.

The platform criticized China, which recently canceled its plan to hold joint-force military exercises on Dongshan Island, for seeking military capabilities that could threaten its neighbors and for failing to uphold its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) subsequent order to call off the country's planned live-fire drills, part of the annual Han Kuang series of military exercises, after China canceled its war games sparked speculation about whether the US had exerted pressure on China and Taiwan.

"The drills on Dongshan simulated an invasion of Taiwan. They are not children's games. It is impossible that China canceled the war games for no reason," said Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), a member of the legislature's National Defense Committee.

"Chen decided to call off this part of the Han Kuang exercises because China canceled the drills on Dongshan. He must have inside information [about the Chinese military exercises]," Lee said.

"Taiwan and China do not want a war. The cancelation of the military exercises is a move beneficial to people in both countries," he said.

"It is possible the US played a role in the matter," Lee said.

Lu declined to comment when asked whether the US pressured Taiwan and China to withdraw from the war games.

Although he recognized that there were differences between the Republican Party's and the Democratic Party's Taiwan policies, Lu nevertheless said the US government's foreign policy was likely to remain largely the same, no matter which party takes power.

Differing from the Republican Party platform's staunch support for Taiwan, the Democratic Party's campaign book -- launched last month -- failed even to endorse the Taiwan Relations Act that the US Congress passed in 1979.

The act states that the US should "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 Taiwan so that the latter can "maintain a self-sufficient defense capacity."

"There is continuity in the US government's foreign policy ... We share the US mainstream's judgment of values in the international community and recognize that Taiwan is of strategic interest to the US," Lu said.

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday questioned Taiwan's decision to cancel a major live-fire drill in response to China's reported cancelation of its scheduled military exercises on Dongshan Island.

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