Thu, Mar 03, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Wu works to bridge US-Taiwan divide

Wu Li-pei, a long-time advocate for Taiwan, gained attention this week after resigning from his position as senior presidential adviser to protest an agreement made between President Chen Shui-bian and People First Party Chairman James Soong. Before this rift, Wu last month headed Taiwan's delegation to US President George W. Bush's National Prayer Breakfast and during his stay in Washington spoke to US officials on issues that concern Taiwan. Wu sat down with `Taipei Times' reporter Huang Tai-lin last week and outlined the response he received, and some of the common concerns that US officials raised, including constitutional reform and weapons sales


Former senior adviser to the president Wu Li-pei points while talking during an interview at the Presidential Office late last month.


Taipei Times: You recently returned from heading the Taiwan delegation to the US National Prayer Breakfast. Could you share with us the discussions that took place during your visit there?

Wu Li-pei (吳澧培): We spent seven days in the US, including visits to New York, Boston and Washington. During our stay, we met and exchanged views with a number of think tanks, members of congress, former and incumbent officials, as well as media outlets.

The main issues put forward by us were the EU's plan to lift their embargo on arms sales to China, China's proposed "anti-secession" law and Taiwan's bid to take part in international bodies; whereas for the US, they often brought up topics ranging from [Taiwan's] referendum to constitutional reforms and Taiwan's arms procurement from the US.

On the arms embargo, we expressed our deep concern over the possibility that should the EU decide to lift the embargo on arms sales to China, it would destabilize the East Asian security environment. We mentioned that it could also further weaken the US' presence in the Asian region, which is already on the decline.

The only thing remaining would be to decide how to approach [the issue] so as to effectively prevent this from happening.

As the US works to improve its relations with the main EU members such as Germany and France, it makes us feel a bit more optimistic that the US may be able to efficaciously prevent [the EU from lifting their embargo.]

On China's planned "anti-secession" law, we let them know that Taiwan, after the bitterly fought elections of last year, was able to -- after the elections -- address issues in a more rational and calm manner.

As a result, Taiwan can better express goodwill toward China, which seemingly responded by sending two of its [Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait] officials to participate in the funeral for [late Straits Exchange Foundation chairman] Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), and by not insisting on the "one China" principle when negotiating with Taiwan on the recent cross-strait charter flights for the Lunar New Year holidays.

China's plan to enact its "anti-secession" law, however, quickly destroyed all this amity.

Although its content is not yet known, the fact that they have introduced this law is itself already a very malicious move. We relayed to the US in strong terms that this proposed law of China's is absolutely unacceptable to Taiwan.

Besides, we don't think the law would bring any good to China since it would end up scaring Taiwanese businessmen away from investing there.

The issue that concerned them the most was arms sales. We of course explained to them that it is domestic politics. You can't blame the president when it is the Legislative Yuan that failed to pass it [the bill for the weapons procurement budget].

Their biggest concern, even from those who generally are friendly with Taiwan, was that, "are you just going to sit there and let us do the job?"

Unfortunately, from what we observed, it was apparent that this was the general impression lingering in US political circles -- that they think Taiwan doesn't want to defend itself, and simply expects the US to come and act as its shield.

TT: What were your observations with regard to the US' view on China's proposed "anti-secession" law?

Wu: I once said that it is strenuous work [for Taiwan] to be an ally of the US, as any tiny moves will be fingered by the US as acts of provocation and Taiwan will be branded as being a "trouble-maker."

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