Tue, Nov 06, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taipei to request clarification on US reference to UN poll

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Taiwan's representative office in Washington has been asked to approach the US Department of Defense for clarification on a statement released by Pentagon officials in Beijing on Sunday that likened the government's proposed UN bid referendum to an "independence referendum," Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials said yesterday.

At issue is a story published on Sunday by the American Forces Press Service, a mouthpiece of the US Department of Defense.

The story described US Defense Secretary Robert Gates' goals during his visit to Beijing that began on Sunday.

One paragraph stated: "Gates is prepared to speak with the Chinese about Iranian nuclear ambitions, moves with North Korea and the war on terror. The US delegation expects the Chinese to bring up Taiwan -- especially with the independence referendum on the ballot soon. President [George W.] Bush has said the United States is against independence for the island nation."

Ministry Deputy Spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) said yesterday that officials from the representative office in Washington have been asked to contact the Pentagon to find out why the US military labeled the government's proposed referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan" as an "independence referendum."

She said the US administration had not used such terminology when discussing the referendum with Taipei.

Yeh said the ruling and opposition parties were in agreement that it was necessary to hold a UN bid referendum next year as this was "overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Taiwanese." She also reiterated that the government's proposed referendum was meant to demonstrate Taiwanese determination to join the UN and has nothing to do with changing the "status quo" or violating President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "four noes" pledge.

In his 2000 inaugural address, Chen pledged that as long as Beijing has no intention of using military force against Taiwan, during his time in office, he would not declare independence, not change Taiwan's official title, not add the state-to-state theory to the Constitution, not promote a referendum on the independence versus unification issue, and would not abolish the National Unification Guidelines and the National Unification Council.

At a separate setting yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Joanna Lei (雷倩) and Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民) said the story used "unprecedented" terminology in describing the government's proposed referendum as an independence drive.

"The story also said that `Bush is against Taiwanese independence,' Lei said, adding that the importance of the story should not be underestimated because the news service that issued it is a mouthpiece of the US Department of Defense.

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