Sat, Nov 04, 2006 - Page 2 News List

China's complaint about Chen interview draws flak

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

A spokesman for the Presidential Office yesterday criticized China for complaining to an international newspaper that ran an interview with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

David Lee (李南陽), director of the Department of Public Affairs, was responding to an alleged protest by China's Embassy in the UK to the Financial Times, in the wake of the London-based newspaper's publication of an exclusive interview with the president on Wednesday.

According to Lee, the Chinese embassy in the UK called the Financial Times to ask "why [the paper] was interviewing the president."

Chinese embassies regularly complain to international media that talks to senior Taiwanese officials.

Lee said that Beijing has used a two-pronged approach in dealing with Taiwan, subtly trying to woo it while at the same time actively trying to suppress it in the international arena.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the US State Department on Thursday reiterated that the US "takes seriously" Chen's commitments to exclude sovereignty issues from Taiwan's constitutional reform.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington does not support independence for Taiwan and is opposed to any unilateral changes to the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo by either Taiwan or China.

"We take seriously President Chen's repeated commitments not to permit the constitutional reform process to touch on sovereignty issues, including territorial definition, " McCormack said during a daily press briefing.

"President Chen's fulfillment of his commitment will be a test of leadership, reliability and statesmanship as well as his ability to protect Taiwan's interests, its relations with others and to maintain peace and stability in the Strait," he said.

Chen said in the interview that Taiwan should discuss the idea of a "Second Republic" to free the country of what he called an "absurd and unrealistic" definition of sovereignty without provoking China.

He said that under a "Second Republic," the current Constitution would be frozen, and a new constitution would be written.

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