US President George W. Bush is not expected to criticize Taiwan during his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) at the White House in April over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) decision to cease operations of the National Unification Council (NUC), a Taiwanese official said yesterday.
"Both Taiwan and the United States are liberal democracies and have shared values in freedom, democracy and peace, while China is the world's sixth-most dictatorial country. It would be unacceptable to the American people if Bush were to criticize Taiwan during his meeting with the top Chinese leader," Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said.
In December 2003, Bush criticized Chen during his meeting with visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) over Chen's insistence on holding a referendum simultaneously with the 2004 presidential election. With Hu scheduled to visit the US in April, some observers have speculated that a similar incident may arise over Chen's NUC campaign.
Speaking during a television interview, Wu indicated that he was confident there would not be a repeat of the 2003 incident. To the best of his understanding, he said, many Americans felt that Bush's language in 2003 was inappropriate.
"Promoting freedom and democracy has been a major US foreign policy goal. I don't think that the United States would appease totalitarian China at Taiwan's expense," Wu said.
Wu added that Chen's decision to cease the operations of the NUC would not bring the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to the brink of war.
"If there is a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, it's because China has deployed a large number of missiles targeting Taiwan," Wu said. "China's military buildup against Taiwan is the root cause of any cross-strait crisis."
In response to an editorial in yesterday's edition of Wen Wei Po, Beijing's Hong Kong mouthpiece, which said that Taiwan and the US had colluded over the scrapping of the NUC, Wu yesterday said that the newspaper's editorial had misunderstood the cross-strait relationship.
"Saying that the US and Taiwan have collaborated to sabotage the cross-strait status quo is a serious misunderstanding," Wu said.
During negotiations with the US over the fate of the NUC, the US came to understand Taiwan's position very well, Wu said.
"The US' stance toward the Taiwan Strait has been to uphold peace and democracy, and that's the same as our goal, 100 percent," he said.
Additional reporting by Chang Yun-ping