Sat, Jan 29, 2005 - Page 3 News List

MAC head says US against Beijing's anti-secession law

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

The US is very much opposed to China's proposed anti-secession legislation and is putting pressure on Beijing to halt the bill's passage, according to Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) following a recent trip to Washington during which he attended US President George Bush's inaugural festivities.

"When I mentioned the name of the former US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, the Americans understood immediately what I was getting at," Wu said yesterday, suggesting that Iraq had invaded Kuwait because Glaspie had not opposed such a plan during a meeting with former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Gulf War.

Wu clarified his analogy, saying that he felt that the trip had been a success because he had been able to convey the "destructive nature of the anti-secession law" to the US.

Wu was in the US from Jan. 17 to Monday, primarily to attend Bush's inaugural ceremony, but he also took the opportunity to lobby for support with US academics, congressmembers and media in regard to the anti-secession bill.

"The US reaction to the law is very strong. They feel the timing is inappropriate, and that the bill will unnecessarily escalate tensions," Wu said, saying that the US was putting pressure on China not to pass the law.

It is unclear, however, what the council plans to do beyond international lobbying. Asked whether Taiwan plans to take a more aggressive stance on the matter by pushing through legislation to counter the law, Wu merely said that it was not "something that we are thinking about right now."

Wu admitted to feeling mixed emotions yesterday, saying that while he was happy to see cross-strait direct flights take place this year, he also feared that the anti-secession law would ultimately counteract the progress made with the charter flights. The historic flights are slated to take place beginning today.

"The law will be a hindrance to the many issues we need to work through after the cross-strait flights are concluded," Wu said. He said that on the tenth anniversary of Jiang Zemin's Eight Points speech "common ground does exist for forging a consensus" across the Taiwan Strait.

As of press time yesterday, the council had not observed any significant changes in Beijing's Taiwan policy as expressed by Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, speech to commemorate the anniversary. The occasion is often used to signal Beijing's policy in the upcoming year.

Institute for National Policy Research executive director Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), who accompanied Wu on his recent trip to the US, offered similar sentiments, saying on Thursday that the US felt the anti-secession bill was "unproductive and unnecessary."

"This is an opportunity for Taiwan to turn around its international image as a troublemaker," he said, explaining that this was in part a competition of international reputation between Taiwan and China.

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