Fri, Mar 25, 2005 - Page 3 News List

US is unconcerned about Chen's joining protest: Joseph Wu

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

The US is not concerned about whether President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) takes to the streets and participates in the rally protesting Beijing's "Anti-Secession" Law tomorrow, according to the nation's top cross-strait policymaker, Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).

Wu, head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), made the remarks yesterday while responding to lawmakers during a question and answer session at the legislature.

HIGH MARKS

"I've been personally in touch with Richard Bush and US officials, and they've all given Taiwan's handling of the situation high marks," Wu said.

Richard Bush, a former American Institute in Taiwan chairman, is the director of the Brookings Institution's Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies.

Several lawmakers had pointed to an article that Bush wrote for the Chinese-language daily China Times as a call for restraint in responding to Beijing's law.

Responding to complaints that the government should focus on formulating effective policies rather than taking to the streets, Wu said that tomorrow's rally was one of the best ways to express to the international community Taiwan's desire for freedom and democracy.

Wu did not commit to participating in the protest himself, saying only that he would go if his busy schedule permitted.

THE POLICY FRONT

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said yesterday that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had not criticized China during her recent trip there as harshly as Taiwan would have liked. Instead, Lin said, she was fighting Beijing's legislation on the policy front -- something Taiwanese officials should do as well.

"If the Anti-Secession Law is a tiger, then Rice is working to pull out the tiger's teeth by making peace in the Taiwan Strait a common security objective with Japan and by putting pressure on the EU to keep the arms ban on China," Lin said.

In a report commissioned by the legislature, the council identified three policy objectives in responding to Beijing's Anti-Secession Law. The council plans to continue to publicly condemn Beijing's use of non-peaceful means, to lobby for support from the international community and to build domestic consensus on the matter.

STABILITY

Wu said that because the rally's call for freedom, democracy, peace and stability was fundamentally the same as the government's statements in response to Beijing's legislation, there was no real conflict of interest if he decided to take to the streets this weekend.

Wu also said that the National Assembly elections on May 14 could be a possible turning point for cross-strait relations.

"It's just the first major event between now and future [cross-strait] development," Wu explained, while declining to predict where relations might be at that time.

The government will continue to assess the impact of the Anti-Secession Law on cross-strait ties as it formulates future policies, Wu said.

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