Taipei monitoring Bush-Hu talks at APEC forum

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Wed, Sep 05, 2007 - Page 3

Taipei will keep a close watch on the upcoming meeting between US President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), where the issue of Taiwan's push for a referendum on its UN bid is expected to be discussed, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday.

Huang said the ministry would continue to try to communicate with the US on the planned referendum on using the name Taiwan in applying for UN membership and prepare for likely scenarios in the wake of the Bush-Hu talks.

The talks are expected to take place on the sidelines of the APEC forum on Saturday and Sunday in Sydney, Australia.

Dennis Wilder, senior director for East Asian affairs at the National Security Council, said last Thursday he could "almost guarantee" that Hu would raise the topic of Taiwan's referendum plan with Bush.

Wilder said Hu would want a recommitment by the US to the three US-China communiques and to Washington's long-standing "one China" policy and that he was convinced "the president will be willing to give him that."

Huang said it was regrettable that the US -- a key proponent of democracy -- did not see eye to eye with Taiwan over the issue of a referendum, which is a core democratic value.

In the face of the strong reaction by Washington, the ministry must make clear to the US that the UN referendum plan does not concern only a single politician or political party, but is a vital issue at this stage in Taiwan's democratic development, he said.

Reiterating that the UN bid referendum is not a unification or independence issue and does not violate President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) "four noes" pledges to the US, Huang said the referendum is aimed at allowing Taiwanese to peacefully express their desire to join the UN and will not result in changes to the national title, flag or the status quo.