Sun, Jun 05, 2005 - Page 3 News List

US receives briefing on China visits

`CLOSE CONTACT' A representative of the pan-blue camp in the US handed over a report on Lien and Soong's visits, while academics fretted about the stalled arms deal

CNA , Washington

A representative for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) in the US said yesterday that he has delivered "the most precise briefing" to Washington on details of the recent visits to China by the leaders of the two parties.

Jason Yuan (袁健生) made the remarks while receiving a group of Taiwanese journalists visiting the US under the leadership of Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Huang Wei-feng (黃偉峰).

Yuan said Washington has maintained close contact with the KMT and PFP since last December's legislative elections and such contact became even closer during last month's China visits by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

According to Yuan, Washington approached his office for Lien's itinerary before the KMT chairman's departure for China, and after his return to Taiwan, Washington further requested details of Lien's meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to serve as background material for US President George W. Bush's May 5 phone talks with Hu.

Yuan said he briefed Washington officials on everything he knew, which included the fact that Lien and Hu discussed the issue of removing China's missiles targeting Taiwan, but did not touch upon Taiwan's arms procurement plans.

Regarding a joint letter signed by 33 members of the US House of Representatives to Lien, urging him to help expedite the passage of the NT$480 billion (US$15.4 billion) arms procurement package, Yuan said the letter has not been delivered to him yet. Yuan said the move was not activated by the administrative branch and he doubts if the letter represents the majority opinion of Congress.

However, during a meeting with the visiting Taiwanese journalists, Gary Schmitt, executive director of the Project for the New American Century, a Washington-based think tank, said Washington is concerned about the delay of the arms procurement package by the opposition-controlled legislature and that the joint letter by the 33 congressmen represents this concern.

American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Dan Blumenthal noted that the KMT used to support arms procurements when it was in power and he said it is ironic that the KMT has changed its attitude just because it is now in the opposition.

Blumenthal said it is only the KMT's hostility toward President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) that has prompted the party to block the arms procurement package, which he said is something a responsible opposition party would not do.

Although the procurement will not immediately reverse the military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait, it will help deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, he said.

Meanwhile, on Chen's claim that Soong met secretly with Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, in the US, Yuan described it as absolutely untrue. Yuan said it was impossible for them to meet each other because Chen Yunlin left Washington, DC in early January, while Soong arrived there on Jan. 15.

Chen has claimed that during his meeting with Chen Yunlin, Soong promised to oppose a constitutional amendment that would allow for referendums on future constitutional amendments in exchange for Beijing's approval for him to visit China.

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