- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 19, 2005

Taiwan rebuffed

Taiwan’s representative in the United States says his government is constantly met with “provocative actions” from China when it tries to promote peaceful relations.

David Tawei Lee said Taiwan’s government showed restraint most recently when China passed an “anti-secessionist” law that authorized force to unite the democratic island with the communist mainland. However, more than 500,000 demonstrators in Taiwan protested China’s action.

Chen Shui-bian, leader of the Republic of China (Taiwan), has repeatedly urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to open direct talks over the future relations between the two governments.

In the past five years, Mr. Chen “has repeatedly offered the olive branch to China,” Mr. Lee said in a recent speech at the University of Virginia.

Mr. Lee, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, appealed to China to show equal restraint.

“We urge [China] not to provoke Taiwan further, which could fuel the fire that was sparked by the passage of the anti-session law,” he said.

Mr. Lee also told his audience that the “most blatant threat from China” comes from more than 600 missiles aimed at the island, which China calls a “renegade province.” Taiwan is considering a $18.2 billion purchase of defensive weapons from the United States.

“It, therefore, is imperative that Taiwan purchase advanced weapons systems for self-defense because we must become increasingly self-sufficient,” he said.

“We don’t assume that we will get a free ride from the United States as far as our security is concerned, nor do we view U.S. security commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act as a blank check,” he said.

Congress adopted the act in 1979, after President Carter cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognized China.

Spymaster diplomat

The director of Australia’s intelligence service has been nominated to serve as ambassador to the United States.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer this week announced the selection of Dennis Richardson to replace Ambassador Michael J. Thawley, who has been in Washington for more than five years.

Mr. Richardson, who led the Australian Security Intelligence Organization for eight years, will be “a highly effective ambassador to the United States,” Mr. Downer said.

“He has made a major contribution to Australia’s security in this role, especially since September 11, 2001,” Mr. Downer said.

Mr. Richardson, who has held several top positions in the prime minister’s office, also held diplomatic posts in Kenya, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Mr. Downer called U.S.-Australian relations “deep and enduring.”

“It is a relationship built on our shared values of freedom and democracy and closely aligned strategic interests,” he said.

Australia has more than 550 troops in Iraq.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington next week include:

Monday

• Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who meets President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley. On Tuesday, Mr. Karzai addresses the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

Tuesday

• Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Wednesday

• Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, who addresses the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

Thursday

• Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who meets President Bush.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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