Calling the decision to drop "China" from the names of state enterprises in favor of "Taiwan" a "domestic matter," senior officials yesterday said the government would continue with the name change campaign despite criticism from the US.
"The [Taiwanese] government has the sovereignty and leadership in deciding its own policies and this is part of domestic affairs," said Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰). "We will continue to walk this path."
The remarks came in response to comments made by US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, who on Friday said the US did not support "administrative steps by Taiwan authorities that would appear to change Taiwan's status unilaterally or move toward independence."
Several state-owned enterprises, including the Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC,
In a particularly strong statement, McCormack also said the changes could affect Taiwan's "relationship with others," a possible warning that US-Taiwan ties would be hurt if President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) goes ahead with his plans.
McCormack said that Chen's actions on the issue "will be a test of leadership, dependability and statesmanship."
To underscore its concern, the department also took the seldom-used step of issuing a formal statement, in addition to the comments made by McCormack in answer to a question at his daily press briefing.
McCormack said Washington's main interest was maintaining peace and stability in the strait, and repeated the standard mantra that the US did not support Taiwan independence and opposed steps to change the status quo.
While the department's formal statement largely repeated what McCormack said, it added a reference to Chen's "four Noes" pledge in his 2000 inaugural address.
The inclusion of that sentence may indicate that the US feels changing the name on stamps and other enterprises might violate those pledges, which some observers feel US officials may have helped write as a gauge of Chen's commitment not to exacerbate US-China relations.
The issue could sour Taiwan's relations with the Bush administration at a time when relations were improving, as the brouhaha over Chen's decision to mothball the National Unification Council early last year became a distant memory.
In Taipei, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (
The government would help the US understand that the name-changes were not a violation of the "four noes," Chiou added.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday condemned the move to change the names of state-owned enterprises, warning that the policy would only damage relations with the US.
"The policy not only highlights the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) childishness, but also shows it is ignoring people's livelihoods and doing nothing but manipulating the Taiwan independence issue and creating social conflict," Ma said in a written statement.
Noting the US government had expressed concern about the move and said it did not support the policy, Ma called on Chen not to irritate the US with the policy.
"The DPP's elimination of the name `Republic of China' in state-owned enterprises is merely a change of title ? Does it really think that Taiwan will be independent by doing this? It's completely immature," Ma said.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (
"It is as simple as that," he said, "As long as it is a good thing for the companies and for the country, we will continue to do so. I do not see anything wrong with it at all."
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih and Jimmy Chuang
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Debate over name change continues
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