Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Koo hopes to reassure Americans

AD CAMPAIGN: The former senior presidential adviser said the US was wrong to view the DPP's referendum on a UN bid as an effort to change the country's name

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former senior presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming gestures during an interview with the Taipei Times yesterday.

PHOTO: HUANG TAI-LIN, TAIPEI TIMES

Frustrated by communication problems with the US government over Taiwan's UN membership bid, former senior presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) decided to appeal directly to the American public by placing ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post today.

With a headline that reads "Don't put Taiwan's democracy and freedom back into a box," the ad calls on Americans and their representatives to pressure the US government and the UN to help Taiwan join the international body.

"As God and the American people are our witnesses: we will not be defeated," Koo says in the ad. "Taiwan shall overcome. The constant bullying by the Chinese to deny our identity only hardened our resolve to fight for independence and international recognition."

In an interview with the Taipei Times yesterday, Koo said that the US' opposition to Taiwan's UN campaign did not make sense because a majority of Taiwanese supported the initiative.

He said he was afraid that anti-US sentiment would strengthen if President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) bowed to US pressure and dropped the referendum proposal.

"I do not want to see anti-US sentiment arise in Taiwan, but I'm afraid US opposition to the campaign has contributed to the phenomenon," he said.

A poll conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank earlier this month showed that the popularity of the US in the eyes of Taiwanese had declined by 15 percent over the past year, dropping from 32 percent one year ago to 17 percent.

While US officials have argued that Taiwan's UN membership bid would amount to changing the country's name and violating the "four noes" pledge Chen made in his first inauguration address in 2000, Koo said that Chen was, as the head of state, obliged to break any promise he deemed to run counter to the national interest.

Koo criticized the US for describing the referendum as a "frontal assault with no hope of changing Taiwan's actual status on the international stage, while increasing cross-strait tensions and alienating potential supporters of Taiwan's increased international space."

"Referendums are Taiwan's internal affair. The US' opposition only pleases China and will never win the support of the international community," Koo said.

While the US was worried that the referendum might provoke Beijing, Koo said that it was unlikely China would attack Taiwan in the next five to 10 years as it was preoccupied with building its economic and political might to become a dominant force in the region.

Koo said he could accept the US argument that Taiwan's status was an undecided issue but found it unacceptable that Taiwan is not considered a state. He said he recognized that many problems still need to be addressed.

Dismissing US criticism that the referendum was an election ploy, Koo said that he would like to know whether referendums held in the US simultaneously with elections are just election ploys.

Koo said the 1972 US-China Shanghai Communique was "the beginning of a mistake."

He said he appreciated the US for making efforts to protect peace and security in the Taiwan Strait but warned that it could easily cancel the Taiwan Relations Act without consulting Taiwan.

Koo also expressed disappointment with Washington's "one China" policy, saying that his calls for a re-examination of the flawed strategy over the years have fallen on deaf ears.

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