President Chen Shui-bian (
"The international community is concerned what step Taiwan will take after the UN referendum. Please don't worry. We just want to make our voice heard around the world -- that Taiwan wants to join the UN using the name `Taiwan,'" Chen said.
He made the comments in response to remarks by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Thomas Christensen.
During a press briefing with Taiwanese media in the US capital on Thursday, Christensen, when asked to comment on the UN referendum, including Chen's statement that US opposition to the referendum could trigger an emotional backlash in Taiwan and affect bilateral relations, said that Washington had an obligation to let Taiwanese clearly understand its position on the issue.
Stressing that the US honors democracy and has no intention of dictating what Taiwan should or should not do, Christensen said the US respects the wisdom of Taiwanese and believes they will choose a policy that is favorable to the nation as well as cross-strait peace and stability through a democratic process.
Christensen said both Taiwan and China should avoid taking any "needlessly provocative actions" to avoid escalating tension and that the referendum was an example of such an action.
The US is opposed to any unilateral action by either side to change the cross-strait status quo, and the UN bid referendum is obviously designed to seek changes to the status quo, he said.
Christensen said the proposed referendum was inconsistent with Chen's promise that he would not change Taiwan's official name during his term of office.
By implying that the referendum will give Taiwanese a chance to express their opinion on whether Taiwan should unify with China, Chen is also going against his pledge that he will not promote a referendum on the unification versus independence issue during his term, he said.
Calling the referendum initiated by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) "unwise," Christensen said it was not only dangerous and provocative, but would also scare away potential friends who might help Taiwan, including the US.
On Chen's claim that the referendum might prompt the US to change its "one China" policy if it were passed, Christensen said the US government had no plans to alter its decades-long policy because it had proven helpful in maintaining cross-strait peace and is favorable to Taiwan.
Chen yesterday said he appreciated and took the US' concern seriously.
"Four years ago, referendums were taboo in the country. I was also under a lot of pressure. But now, even the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] does not oppose holding a referendum in tandem with an election. This is progress," Chen said.
The proposed UN referendum is a reflection of the major opinions in the country, Chen said, adding that he would continue to communicate with the US on the issue.
Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (
Lin said Taiwan would not back away from the UN referendum bid because the nation would never change its commitment to democratic progress.
The Mainland Affairs Council also condemned China for asking US and European leaders to oppose the referendum.
"This crude method of China using international politics to seek recognition for its `one-China' principle internationally and put pressure on Taiwan will only add to regional tension," the council said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that US-Taiwan relations would not be affected as the issue stemmed from "different understandings" of the UN referendum issue.
In his briefing on Thursday, Christensen also said that the US would continue to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons based on the Taiwan Relations Act as well as Taiwan's long-term military defense needs.
Despite Chinese discontent with US military sales to Taiwan, Washington will continue to carry out this policy in the belief that maintaining Taiwan's solid defensive capabilities is conducive to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, he said.
He also urged the Beijing leadership to engage in dialogue with Taiwan's democratically elected leaders.
China on Wednesday urged the US to stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan.
The US Defense Department informed Congress last month about a possible sale to Taiwan of Patriot missile system upgrades valued at US$939 million.
"We hope the US side ... will stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan, stop US-Taiwan official engagement and military contacts and cooperation," China's Xinhua news agency yesterday quoted Ma Xiaotian (馬曉天), an air force lieutenant-general, as telling US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in Washington on Wednesday.
Weapons sales send the wrong signal, emboldening Taiwan to push for formal independence, Ma said.
Xinhua did not say whether a spat over China blocking the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier from docking in Hong Kong came up in the meeting between Ma and Negroponte.
The US has complained that China, at the last minute, blocked a Thanksgiving visit to Hong Kong by the Kitty Hawk and accompanying ships last month.
China later reversed its decision but Washington said it was too late.
The Pentagon also accused China of refusing to let two minesweepers shelter from a storm in Hong Kong last month.
ANTI-SHIP CONFIGURATION: The Tuo Chiang-class vessels are to be built for NT$9.7 billion by Lung Teh, a shipyard that previously built four similar corvettes for the navy The Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday awarded Lung Teh Shipbuilding (龍德造船) a NT$9.7 billion Co (US$317.57 million) contract to build five Tuo Chiang-class corvettes with anti-ship capabilities, a defense official familiar with the matter said yesterday. The corvettes would carry vertical launchers for four Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) missiles, as well as eight Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, in contrast to ships configured for anti-air warfare, which carry eight HF-2 and four HF-3 missiles, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The anti-ship corvettes would be armed for improved standoff range against surface combatants and carry the latest
PARTIAL SUPPORT: Morris Chang said he agrees with the US’ goal to slow advances of China’s chip sector, but US policies that might boost chip prices perplex him Washington’s efforts to on-shore semiconductor production might lead to surges in chip prices and supply bottlenecks, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) founder Morris Chang (張忠謀) said yesterday. The 91-year-old industry veteran said he supports parts of Washington’s effort to slow China’s progress on advanced chip manufacturing. China is still six years behind Taiwan in making advanced chips, despite years-long efforts to catch up, Chang told a Commonwealth Magazine forum that he coheadlined with Tufts University assistant professor Chris Miller, an expert on the US-China rivalry’s effects on chip manufacturing. However, Chang said that other parts of the effort, particularly Washington’s on-shoring
‘COINCIDENCE’: The former president should keep in mind local and global response to his actions and abide by the law to safeguard national interests, the MAC said The Presidential Office yesterday confirmed that it has received an application from former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to visit China next week and would be discussing his security detail. “As the travel restrictions on former president Ma have expired, we respect his plan to pay respect to his ancestors in China,” Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said. “We will review his travel plan and consult concerned agencies to assist him in arranging his security detail.” “We also hope that Ma, as a former commander in chief of Taiwan, acts in a manner that aligns with national interests and does not hurt
‘WRONG DECISION’: Honduras should carefully consider the situation, and not fall into China’s trap and jeopardize the bilateral friendship, the foreign ministry said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that it had expressed “grave concern” to the government of Honduras after Honduran President Xiomara Castro on Tuesday wrote on Twitter that it would pursue official diplomatic relations with China. In addition to issuing a statement, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yui (俞大㵢) summoned Honduran Ambassador to Taiwan Harold Burgos to the ministry in Taipei early yesterday to voice the government’s concerns. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes and Burgos did not make any public comments upon arriving at the ministry. Burgos said shortly after noon that he had not yet heard from his country’s