- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

Taiwan’s top official on China said yesterday that Taipei is unnerved by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s recent statements on China-Taiwan relations.

Comments made by Mr. Kerry on the sensitive issue of Taiwan “were a little bit alarming to us,” said Joseph Wu, chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council.

He was particularly concerned by Mr. Kerry’s statement during the Democratic primary race that Taiwan might have to accept a one-country/two-system policy similar to that applied to Hong Kong.

In addition, Mr. Wu told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, there appeared to be no reference to the Taiwan Relations Act — which commits the United States to help Taiwan defend itself — in the Democratic Party platform.

“We feel we ought to understand more of [Mr. Kerry’s] foreign policy,” Mr. Wu said.

He recalled that under President Clinton, the Democratic administration’s policy toward Taiwan seemed to change over time, “zigging and zagging” between active support for Taipei and engagement with Beijing.

President Bush’s administration, Mr. Wu said, also had zig-zagged “a little bit.”

But, overall, U.S. foreign policy always falls between opposing China’s threat of use of force against Taiwan and opposing Taiwan’s bid for independence, he said.

In April 2001, Mr. Bush authorized the sale to Taiwan of a package of advanced defense weapons systems, including submarines. After considerable debate, Mr. Wu said, the Taiwan legislature is ready to approve a budget of roughly $15 billion to buy the weapons.

“It’s one of the urgent bills that needs to be passed,” he said. “We expect it to be passed in October.”

Mr. Wu noted the huge discrepancy between China’s extensive modern military systems, including a “tremendous missile threat” and “huge stockpile of nuclear weapons,” and Taiwan’s aging weaponry.

Actual delivery of the systems will take up to 10 years for the submarines, six to eight years for the P-3C airplanes, and four to six years for the Patriot missiles, he said.

Mr. Wu said that “American friends” recently had assured Taiwan that one of the major questions surrounding the deal — where the submarines were to be built — would be resolved.

He did not indicate where they would be constructed, but said it might not be in the United States.

Taiwan considers itself a de facto independent state. China opposes any diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, as well as any weapons sales to the island, which it considers part of its territory.

Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), on Wednesday criticized Beijing’s policy as a form of “political apartheid” and called on the United Nations to recognize Taipei.

“Taiwan’s absence in the United Nations has left its 23 million people without an internationally acknowledged identity, has turned them into international vagabonds and victims of political apartheid,” Mr. Chen said in video news conference in New York.

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