Tue, Jul 12, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Former US diplomat meets nation's leaders

FRIEND OF TAIWAN Randall Schriver, who enjoys a reputation as a strong supporter of Taiwan, began meeting with political leaders, with the US arms bill a key concern

By Mac William Bishop  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs Randall Schriver met with senior Taiwanese politicians yesterday, with the stymied special arms procurement budget at the top of his agenda.

Schriver went to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters yesterday and met with party Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), according to today's edition of the Chinese-language Liberty Times.

The Liberty Times is the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times.

Schriver also met with Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), the daily said.

Schriver's key focus in his discussions was the NT$410.8 billion (US$12.8 billion) arms budget to procure eight diesel-electric submarines, 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and three PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile batteries, according to the reports.

The budget has been consistently blocked in the legislature by the pan-blue camp, which has argued that the arms package is unnecessary and too expensive.

The pan-green camp has argued that the weapons systems are necessary to bolster the nation's defenses, in light of the rapid modernization of the Chinese military and Beijing's bellicose attitude toward Taiwan.

Although he has left government service and now works for Armitage Associates -- a consulting firm run by former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage -- Schriver will be meeting with virtually all of the nation's top officials during his three-day visit. He is expected to hold meetings with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and officials from the Cabinet, including the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition to his tenure at the Department of State, Schriver also served in the Pentagon as the senior director for China, Taiwan, Mongolia and Hong Kong during the Clinton administration.

During his postings in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Schriver made a name for himself as an outspoken advocate of democracy and strong supporter of Taiwan.

"Randy [Schriver] had a widespread reputation for being one of the strongest supporters of Taiwan's democracy in the Bush administration," a US government insider told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Although Schriver understands the importance of US-China relations, "he would never support anything to give up Taiwan or its democratic achievements" in order to placate Beijing, the source said.

Because of his views on the importance of democratic development in East Asia, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy invited Schriver to deliver a speech yesterday evening on "Taiwan and global democratization."

The speech was delivered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' training center on Taipei's Dunhua South Road.

In a meeting yesterday with Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Schriver said that China's rise has caused increasing concern in the US and threatens the stability of the Asia-Pacific region, the MAC said in a statement.

"The rise of China has caused negative feelings in political circles in the US," Schriver told Wu, according to the MAC.

"What China has done recently, including increasing its deployment of missiles aimed at Taiwan and enacting the `Anti-Secession' Law, has decreased the degree of mutual confidence in the cross-strait relationship," Schriver told Wu.

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