Thu, Jan 13, 2005 - Page 3 News List

US officials are `concerned' over anti-secession bill


Senior US officials have expressed grave concern to China over its proposed anti-secession legislation, Taiwanese lawmakers said Tuesday.

Legislators Sun Guo-hua (孫國華) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Hsieh Ming-yuan (謝明源) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made the remarks after meeting with US State Department officials.

Sun and Hsieh quoted State Department officials as having told them that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had conveyed US concern about Beijing's so-called anti-secession law while meeting with Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, who visited Washington last week.

According to State Department officials, both Armitage and Hadley told Chen that the proposed anti-secession law would only escalate cross-strait tension and be counterproductive to cross-strait relations. They also told Chen that Taiwan would not accept such legislation.

Chen did not bring with him the content of Beijing's proposed anti-secession law, the State Department officials were quoted as having said.

"State Department officials think Beijing's reluctance to divulge the text of its draft anti-secession law probably shows that the content has not been finalized and that Chinese authorities might revise certain clauses in terms of reactions from various quarters," Sun said.

Sun said the US government is not expected to explicitly express its official stance on the anti-secession law until after the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp parliament, formally passes the legislation.

"The US officials also said they think the period of 2005 and 2006 is critical to cross-strait relations. They said they believe the period is a `window of opportunity' for cross-strait ties. Neither side of the Taiwan Strait should miss this opportunity. They said the two sides should conduct `quiet diplomacy' and hold direct, candid talks to resolve bilateral disputes," Sun said, adding that the US is willing to assist in pushing for cross-strait dialogue, but the responsibility for realizing it rests with Taiwan and China.

As for Taiwan's constitutional re-engineering plan, the State Department officials said they attach great importance to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "four promises."

"If Chen's administration upholds the `four noes' promise, they said the US government will tell Beijing that Taiwan's constitutional reform program will not have an adverse impact on cross-strait ties. As for Taiwan's plan to change its five-branch central government framework to a three-branch one, the US officials said they have no opinion," Sun said.

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