Sun, Mar 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Rice lauds Taiwan's democracy

VALUES The US secretary of state said Taiwan is an example that democracy can be successful in Asia and reiterated her opposition to unilateral changes to the status-quo

CNA AND AFP , Washington and Beijing

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that Taiwan's democratic development is an important message that traditional political culture should not hamper political openness in China.

"It's yet further evidence that the notion that was in fashion somehow back in the 1980s and early 1990s that democracy was not an `Asian value' is simply crumbling across the entire region," Rice said.

"And in this regard, the further development of an open Chinese political system clearly should not be a matter of traditional or political culture, as people sometimes want to make it," she added.

Rice made the remarks during a flight to Tokyo when asked by reporters what message she will give Beijing about Taiwan. Rice is scheduled to arrive in Beijing today as one of her stops on her on-going Asian tour.

Rice said Washington's message to both China and Taiwan is that the US maintains a "one China" policy and does not expect either side to try to change the cross-strait status quo unilaterally.

She noted that neither China nor Taiwan will be able to resolve the cross-strait problem unilaterally.

"What we've been encouraging instead is that they engage each other on ways to reduce cross-strait tensions, not engage in unilateral actions that actually add to cross-strait tensions," Rice said.

In related news, China accused US lawmakers Friday of interfering in its internal affairs by criticizing a law that believes gives it a legal basis to wage war against Taiwan if the country moves to declare independence.

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday warned that the anti-secession legislation alters "the status quo in the region, and thus is of grave concern to the United States."

An official from the Chinese legislature's foreign affairs committee labelled the US criticism blatant interference in China's internal affairs, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"When the US House of Representatives disregarded facts and passed a resolution blaming China for changing the Taiwan Strait status quo, it totally confused right and wrong," Xinhua quoted the unnamed official as saying.

"No foreign forces have the right to intervene," on the issue, the National People's Congress official added.

"It is known to all that we have made unremitting efforts to develop relations across the Taiwan Strait and promote China's peaceful reunification," the official said.

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