Fri, Dec 03, 2004 - Page 4 News List

US officials vow to keep Taiwan safe

LAWMAKERS UNITED Visiting members of the US Congress concurred on Taiwan's sovereignty as a nation, and were perplexed at Chinese 'word games'

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) understands the difficulty the US faces in dealing with China and Taiwan but would fiercely resist the country's unification with China, a visiting US congressmember said yesterday.?

"I gather from our discussion with your president that he would fiercely resist probably to the death any reunification of Taiwan into mainland China, although I am not quoting him on that," said US Representative Phil Gingrey, a Georgia Republican.

After US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher cautioned Taiwan against holding a referendum to seek independence on Monday, Chen told Gingrey and two other visiting members of Congress John Carter and John Culberson, both Texas Republicans, that he will uphold the pledges he made in his inauguration speech this year and Double Ten National Day address.

Chen promised in his inaugural speech this year that he would not declare independence, not change the name of Taiwan's government, not add the state-to-state model to the Constitution and not promote a referendum to change the status quo.

Chen understands the practical realities of the difficulty for the US because of the People's Republic of China, said Gingrey, who described the US as a great friend of Taiwan.

The congressman said with the opening of markets in China, the country may hopefully drift away from totalitarianism.

"Then Taiwan will have the opportunity, as I think it deserves, to be recognized on the international scale as a separate, independent nation," added Gingrey.?

Asked whether he thinks Chen promised not to declare Taiwanese independence because the president believes the country is already independent, Gingrey paraphrased Chen's conversation with him and his colleagues: "I agree that is what he said."

Taiwan and the US, however, "understand the problem with an official declaration of independence, even though unofficially, that is what de facto exists," Gingrey said.

Carter said in their conversation with Chen, the president told them not to be concerned too much about political rhetoric.

"I got the impression that he is very excited about the constitution. The nation is coming up with writing a new constitution and the establishment of democracy firmly in Taiwan. I am personally excited, too. I think it is good. I think he would like negotiations with mainland China," Carter said.

Carter said he also got the impression that Chen "wants to be able to have independence for Taiwan without being offensive or threatening to mainland China."

Culberson, who described Chen as a "self-made man" to be admired immensely, noted that history proves that Taiwan is a "free, sovereign and independent nation."

"I always think it is very unfortunate and I regret very much that president [Jimmy] Carter withdrew support for Taiwan back in the 1979. I am very proud of President Bush for standing by Taiwan and promising to defend Taiwan, as I will, against any potential aggressor," Culberson said.

"I don't understand why the Chinese play these word games. It is an objective and historical fact that Taiwan is an independent sovereign nation. It's apparent, anyone can see with their eyes," said Culberson.?

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