Thu, Dec 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP plays down Armitage's comments

DIPLOMACY DPP officials said there was no need to `overinterpret' recent remarks by the US official, while KMT members saw a more serious message

CNA , TAIPEI

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was yesterday seeking clarification of remarks made by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage that Taiwan was "probably the biggest landmine" in US-China relations.

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊毅) said that Armitage's remarks related to both Taiwan and China, but that the DPP was attempting to seek further information on the comments.

Saying there was no need for "overinterpretation" of the remarks, Lee said that Armitage was merely pointing to the sensitive nature of relations between the US, China and Taiwan, and that he was opposed to either side of the Taiwan Strait changing the status quo.

Arms Sale

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that Armitage's remarks would not affect the good relations between the US and Taiwan.

Tsai also urged the pan-blue camp not to boycott a NT$610.8 billion (US$18.2 million) special budget submitted by the Executive Yuan so that Taiwan could display its determination to defend itself.

The purchase from the US includes eight diesel-electric submarines, a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft and six Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries.

Meanwhile, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday said that the government should squarely address remarks made by Armitage and adjust its cross-strait policy.

Adjustments Needed

Wang said that Armitage is well-informed and a major policymaker in the US. He said the government had to address his remarks seriously and adjust exchanges with China to move cross-strait relations along a more peaceful and stable course.

Wang also said the US is obliged under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) to provide Taiwan with weapons sufficient for its defense to deter military action, but that there was a difference between "deter" and "defend."

He urged the government to review its understanding of the TRA and adjust cross-strait and defense policy based on the review.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) described Armitage's remarks as "serious."

Huang said that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent campaign to change of the names of the nation's overseas missions and state-owned enterprises and hold a referendum on a new constitution was considered by the US to be "crossing the line."

Huang urged Chen not to pursue personal interests that would push the nation to the brink of war.

According to KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴), Armitage's remarks sent a strong warning to Taiwan.

Chang said that Armitage's words came in the wake of Chen's promotion of the name changes and a new constitution.

He said that the US had earlier adopted an ambiguous attitude toward cross-strait relations, but was now being compelled to clearly state its policy, which he said was not in Taiwan's favor.

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