Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 3 News List

`China is not too bright,' President Chen declares

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

China's repeated obstruction of Taiwan's observership bid to join the World Health Assembly (WHA) was not smart and had "let goodwill, if any, go down the drain," President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

"China is not too bright. It is a great pity that China often misjudges the situation and lacks an understanding of Taiwan's public opinion and Taiwanese society," Chen said yesterday while receiving former French prime minister Michel Rocard at the Presidential Office.

Chen made the remarks in view of the failure of Taiwan's ninth consecutive bid to be included in the world health body. The WHA -- the highest decision-making body in the World Health Organization (WHO) -- decided not to list Taiwan's bid on its agenda.

China and the WHO signed a memorandum of understanding last Saturday regulating Taiwan's contacts with the health body and stating that Taiwan can only seek technical assistance from the WHO via China, and that the WHO cannot send medical experts to Taiwan without Beijing's permission.

"It seems to me that China's `goodwill' in offering lavish welcomes during the two Taiwanese opposition leaders' recent China visits has disappeared, as Beijing again bluntly blocked our WHA bid in Geneva," Chen said, referring to the recent pilgrimages made by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

"If China had actually shown any goodwill toward Taiwan when the two Taiwanese opposition leaders visited Beijing, that goodwill has gone down the drain," he added, warning that China's incessant marginalization and oppression of Taiwan will only further the gulf separating Taiwan and China, and will incite more abhorrence from the people of Taiwan toward China.

Noting that if what Chinese Minister of Health Gao Qiang (高強) claimed on Monday in Geneva was indeed true -- that Beijing opposed Taiwan's WHO entry bid because Lien and Soong had said in China that Taiwan does not have sovereignty -- "then Lien and Soong's China trips have not helped expand Taiwan's space on the international stage, but rather have further denigrated, marginalized and localized Taiwan," Chen said.

Although China has misjudged the situation, Chen said Taiwan will never give up its effort to seek rapprochement and dialogue with China.

"No matter how big the differences are, both sides of the Taiwan Strait should settle their disputes through peaceful dialogue," he told Rocard, who currently serves as a member of the European Parliament.

Noting that the principles of democracy, peace and equality were what European countries had used as the basis for transformation into a union, Chen told his French guest that he hoped French President Jacques Chirac would tell Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) about these three principles.

If Hu ever takes them into account, Chirac would have made a great contribution, Chen added.

Meanwhile, commenting on China's latest obstruction of Taiwan's bid to join the WHA, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday said Beijing has given a "heartless" answer to the request of all of the people of Taiwan.

"The move shows that China is arrogant and heartless," Lu said.

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