Taiwan president raps US for siding with China

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian on Friday chided the United States for siding with China, urging Washington to back Taiwan and play a better role as the mediator in Taiwan-China ties.

Taiwan president raps US for siding with China
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian on Friday chided the United States for siding with China, urging Washington to back Taiwan and play a better role as the mediator in Taiwan-China ties.

Chen made the statement, his sharpest criticism of the US so far, while receiving James Steinberg, a national security adviser during the Clinton administration.

Chen said Taiwan and the US used to have communication channels on the "national security level" during the Clinton administration and the start of the Bush administration, but now it seems to have been replaced by the State Department and the American Institute in Taiwan.

"This is not right. I think the US can play a role of balancing interests and values in cross-Strait conflicts and of safeguarding cross-Strait peace and stability. More importantly, in cross-Strait differences and conflicts, the US should be the best mediator," he said.

"If the US cannot be an objective and neutral mediator but chooses sides, especially side with China, that will not help solve historical differences (between Taiwan and China)," he said.

Chen hopes that Taipei and Washington can resume dialogue on the national security level instead of talking to the press.

"Taiwan has been a loyal ally of the US for a long time and takes US interests and concerns seriously. But the US should not take Taiwan's cooperation for granted, should respect the 23 million Taiwan people's views and desires," Chen said, obviously referring to Taiwan's bid to rejoin the United Nations.

Taiwan-US ties have soured in recent months due to Taiwan's seeking to join the UN and hold a referendum to show its determination to join the UN.

Fearing Taiwan might be seeking independence and and thereby trigger a Chinese attack on Taiwan, the US has demanded Taiwan drop the UN bid and the referendum.

But Taiwan, claiming it is a sovereign country, has ignored Washington's warning and will go ahead with the UN referendum, to be held in March 2008 alongside the presidential election.

On Friday, the Mainland Affair Council issued a statement explaining why Taiwan wants to hold the referendum on joining the UN.

It said that Taiwan meets all the criteria for UN membership and needs to join the UN to safeguard its sovereignty. Joining the UN has the backing of a majority of Taiwanese. It said 70 per cent of Taiwanese support the island's joining the UN under the name of "Taiwan."

China, which sees Taiwan as its breakaway province, has warned Taiwan that holding the UN referendum would bring danger to Taiwan.

In his talks with Bush on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Sydney on Thursday, Chinese President Hu Jintao said China-Taiwan ties are going through a period of "high danger."

DPA
Last Mod: 07 Eylül 2007, 19:12
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