Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (
In his first clear explanation of the US attitude toward the referendum since the meeting between US President George W. Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (
The US said voting on the two referendum issues proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (
PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES
The US said a referendum that cannot change the situation or China's policy would be meaningless, Chien said.
Chien made the remarks in a breakfast meeting with lawmakers from the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), who protested to the American Institute in Taiwan over Bush's public rebuke of Chen during his meeting with Wen.
National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Antonio Chiang (
Chiang said that although the US did not disapprove of the referendum asking China to dismantle its missiles targeting Taiwan, it said a more consequential item should be voted on.
"Otherwise the US would view the referendum issue as incomplete," Chiang said.
The US has said it hoped Taiwan could offer to hold a referendum on direct links between Taiwan and China -- transportation, commerce and postal service -- if China agreed to remove its missiles, according to TSU whip Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙), adding the plan would provide Beijing with an incentive to remove the missile threat.
Liao said the US request would make Taiwan's referendum more meaningful.
"The US proposal [on direct links] does not involve the independence or unification problem," Liao said.
Commenting on the development of relations between China, Taiwan and the US after the Bush-Wen meeting, Chien insisted that "Taiwan-US ties remain unaffected."
China-US relations, Chien said, have moved out of the past ambiguity and proceeded to clarity. The two countries have turned from strategic competitors to strategic partners, he said.
Facing worries about the future of Taiwan-US relations, Chiang said the government is "contemplating the last step and making the best preparations."
Addressing TSU lawmakers' concerns about whether China would use force against Taiwan if a referendum is held, Chiang said things so far appeared "safe enough."
Both Chien and Chiang said the US, in order to maintain cross-strait stability, would not alter its policy, adding that it does not wish to see any unilateral moves by Taiwan or China to change the status quo.
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