Fri, May 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

US worried about reform

By Nadia Tsao  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Presidential Office Secretary-General Mark Chen (陳唐山) said on Wednesday that issues relating to Taiwan's constitutional reforms are what concern the US the most.

He made the remarks during a gathering with Taiwanese journalists in Washington. Chen traveled to the US this week to accept an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The US would like to know what issues will be addressed in Taiwan's proposed constitutional reform and whether the process would affect Taiwan-US relations, he said.

The Bush administration had expressed hopes that Taiwan-US relations should be forward-looking and that peace can be maintained across the Taiwan Strait, he said.

Touching on recent remarks made by US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who testified before a hearing of the House International Relations Committee on US policy toward China and said that Taiwanese "independence means war," Chen said such comments are nothing new and that a similar stance had been expressed by US officials in the past.

Taiwan is a country and therefore there is no need to proclaim its independence again, Chen said, adding that Taiwan just wishes to maintain its status quo democracy and freedom.

On Zoellick's comments that questioned President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) credibility, Mark Chen said it was simply a difference in perspective, since he knows the president has been consistent in his remarks.

On the recent uproar over possible US transit stops for the president, Mark Chen said Washington had promised that it was an isolated incident. He said that on his current visit to the US he has not felt that Washington intended to treat its relations with President Chen separate from its ties with Taiwan.

Noting that Taiwan is a democratic country whose leader is elected by its people, Mark Chen said the US, as a democratic country, should know that it is not common practice to treat a democratically elected leader as separate from his or her country.

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