Thu, Nov 10, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Bush `optimistic' about China trip

`ANGST AND ANGER' The US president, who will visit Beijing next week, says he will stress continuity in US policy toward Taiwan and welcome cross-strait talks

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

US President George W. Bush says he is "optimistic" about the chances for a peaceful resolution of differences between China and Taiwan in view of recent cross-strait dialogue. But in an interview with Asian news media on the eve of his trip to the region, Bush did not repeat his administration's call for China to talk directly with the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) government to solve cross-strait issues.

Bush also said that, in his visit to Beijing, he will stress the continuity of US policy toward Taiwan, which would confirm Washington's "one-China" policy; adherence to the three joint communiques between the US and China; a position not supporting Taiwan independence; and "strong support" for the Taiwan Relations Act.

"I'm constantly reiterating my position so that both sides clearly know the position of the United States," Bush said. "I think that's important for the Chinese leadership and the people of China to hear."

Regarding his December 2003 statement -- after a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) in the Oval Office -- chastising Chen for moves seen as altering the status quo in the Strait, Bush said, "I'm always concerned that one party or the other will do something unilaterally to change the status quo."

Such a move would be "a source of angst and anger," he said.

Bush said he is "heartened" to see a cross-strait dialogue beginning to develop.

"That's a positive development and I will continue to encourage that dialogue," he said.

"I urge the parties to continue those discussions. I believe it is possible, through discussion and goodwill, to end up solving this issue in a peaceful way," Bush said.

Bush was vague in his comments about the dialogue, which he made in response to questions by two reporters from different Asian media. He did not address the issue of China's refusal to talk with Chen or his government without preconditions.

In an unusual move, asked what he "hopes to achieve" on the trip, Bush told a reporter from Hong Kong-based Phoenix TX that he would bring up Taiwan in his talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, and went on to outline US policy on the matter.

On most other trips, Bush and top administration officials have omitted voluntary references to Taiwan, or mentioned Taiwan only in passing. The position has been that the Chinese side is certain to bring up the topic as a priority, but that the US side would simply respond, rather than initiating any conversation on cross-strait issues.

It is unclear whether Bush's comments indicate that his administration intends to take a more proactive stance on Taiwan in upcoming and future meetings.

Bush will be in Beijing next week, after attending the meeting of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Busan, South Korea.

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