Thu, Jun 07, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Bush praises Taiwan in speech in Prague

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

US President George W. Bush held up Taiwan's democracy as an example for the world to follow as he addressed a global conference on democracy in Prague, Czech Republic, on Tuesday.

He also made an indirect reference to the Martial Law era of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule, contrasting it to the present democratic conditions in Taiwan.

Bush's speech was the keynote address to a conference on "Democracy and Security," whose attendees included dissidents and democratic activists from 17 countries, including China.

"Freedom can be resisted and freedom can be delayed, but freedom cannot be denied," Bush said.

"As our relationships with South Korea and Taiwan during the Cold War proves, America can maintain a friendship and push a nation toward democracy at the same time," Bush said, in a clear reference to the periods when Washington's concerns over the KMT's repressive actions threatened the relations between the two countries.

"We are also applying that lesson to our relationships with Russia and China," Bush said.

"For example, China's leaders believe that they can continue to open the nation's economy without also opening its political system," which Bush called a "strong disagreement" between Washington and Beijing.

The US leader also announced that Uighur activist Rebiyah Kadeer among the prominent dissidents that he would be meeting during the conference.

Kadeer has been persecuted by Beijing authorities for years for pushing for Uighur autonomy in Xinjiang and her sons have been imprisoned in retaliation for her acts.

Bush said of the dissidents and others in the audience, "You are united in an unwavering conviction: that freedom is the non-negotiable right of every man, woman and child, and that the path to lasting peace in our world is liberty."

In Taipei, the Presidential Office yesterday welcomed Bush's comments.

Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said the Presidential Office agreed with Bush's call for Beijing to conduct democratic reform.

Taiwan and the US are partners in freedom and democracy, Lee said.

The two countries share common interests in promoting peace and stability in the region, he said.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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