Wen lectures US senator on Taiwan

AFP , BEIJING

Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 4

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) told a US Senate delegation yesterday that the US should honor its promises on Taiwan and handle the issue "cautiously," state media reported.

Wen's remarks to US Senator Ted Stevens came a day after the US lawmaker had been admonished by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) that the US should not send "wrong signals" to Taiwan.

"China hopes the US will honor its promise on the Taiwan issue and that the US Congress will correctly understand and cautiously handle the Taiwan issue," Xinhua news agency quoted Wen as saying.

The report of the premier's remarks did not specify what he meant by US promises, but such language often refers to the US' commitment to the "one-China" principle, which states there is only one China, and Taiwan is part of China.

More effort should be made on matters "conducive to stability in the Taiwan Strait," Wen told Stevens, according to the agency.

Stevens has been lectured on Taiwan by a series of Chinese leaders since arriving in Beijing, and was given a similar message when he met Hu on Tuesday.

"China hopes the US side will keep its promises on the issue, translate its commitments into concrete actions and send no wrong signals to the Taiwan independence forces," Hu was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, Washington has remained the leading arms supplier to Taiwan.

Taipei has been considering a plan to spend US$18 billion on the purchase of US military weapons -- including eight conventional submarines, modified Patriot anti-missile systems and anti-submarine aircraft over a 15-year period starting next year.

The US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, which pledges that the US will defend the nation should it be attacked and provide arms "of a defensive nature" to Taipei so it can "maintain a self-sufficient defense capacity."

Congress last month reaffirmed its commitment to the act.