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16 January 2004

Powell Says Taiwan President Has Shown Flexibility

January 16 interview on Phoenix TV

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the wording of the two questions Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has proposed for a controversial island-wide referendum "seems to suggest a bit of flexibility from his earlier positions."

In an interview with Chinese satellite Phoenix TV January 16, Powell said the Bush administration is still studying the referendum questions, which involve purchases of defensive weapons by Taiwan and negotiations with China on Taiwan's future, and has not come to any definite conclusion.

"But I think President Chen has shown a little flexibility in the way those two questions have been worded," he said.

Powell also wished Chinese people around the world a happy new year in the upcoming Year of the Monkey.

Following is the State Department transcript of the interview:

(begin transcript)

Office of the Spokesman
January 16, 2004


Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
On Phoenix TV with Anthony Yuen

January 16, 2004
Washington, D.C.

(10:20 a.m. EST)

MR. YUEN: Mr. Secretary, nice to have you here today.

SECRETARY POWELL: Hello, how are you?

MR. YUEN: Fine. Thank you. You look good, sir.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

MR. YUEN: How's the recovery of your operation?

SECRETARY POWELL: Recovery's going very well. I'm pleased now to consider myself a cancer survivor and I would say to everyone, make sure you watch your health.

MR. YUEN: Oh, good, good. Good for you. At the 18:55 p.m. January 16th, Beijing time, Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian -- I believe you are familiar with him now -- Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian announced a plan, the exactly wording of this referendum. So I -- let me read those two questions for you. If China does not remove missiles aimed at Taiwan and not give up the use of force against Taiwan, do you support the government to increase the purchase of anti-missile equipment to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capability?

And the second question, he wants the Taiwanese people answer in the referendum is, do you agree the government and the communists of China should open negotiations and promote a peaceful, stable framework for interaction in order to seek consensus between the two sides and welfare for the people? Mr. Secretary, what do you think about this? Are you satisfied with that?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we have just received those statements and we are still studying them and we're not prepared to give a definitive answer. But I think President Chen has shown a little flexibility in the way those two questions have been worded. What we have said clearly to Mr. Chen is that the United States will continue to support, in every way, our One-China policy based upon the three communiqués and, of course, our obligations to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act. And we would not be supportive of any effort on the part of either of the parties to undertake a unilateral resolution of the difficulties between the two parties.

And so we will study the statement very, very carefully, and it seems to suggest a bit of flexibility from his earlier positions.

MR. YUEN: Mr. Secretary, as far as I can concern, there is a little trap in his wording of this question. For example, he said if China does not give up the using of force against Taiwan, you know that China cannot do this because they said that using force to keep the Taiwanese from independence is kind of showing sovereignty. So do you think these arguments could go forever?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think it's best that we study the language very, very carefully, and then ask whatever questions might be appropriate for us to ask in order to get perfect clarity on the answer before I offer an opinion on the details of the referendum. I think our position is very clear. President Bush made our position very clear recently with respect to any efforts that would not be supportive of the current situation and our One-China policy.

MR. YUEN: Yes. One question I want to ask you is, Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian, this little guy, they need your support, for now and in the future. But for the past two months or three months, they keep on saying a big no to you against a lot of questions, and a lot of things you want them to do. For example, don't do any referendum, don't declare independence or you -- don't say anything or act to leading to independence. So is that bother you?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we have good relations with Beijing. We have good relations with President Chen Shui-bian. He knows very clearly what our position is with respect to any move toward independence. He knows very clearly what our position is with respect to how the reconciliation between the two sides ultimately must take place. He knows very clearly our position with respect to unilateral actions and so I think the President has been very straightforward with both parties as to our policy and what we expect of others.

Of course we support Taiwan. We have an obligation to do so under our Taiwan Relations Act and both parties are aware that we will continue to meet our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act.

MR. YUEN: All right. The Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Monkey is approaching. So Mr. Secretary, can you say something to the Chinese people around the world on this occasion to our Phoenix TV?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, from America, I wish the Chinese all around the world, in China as well as so many Chinese who live elsewhere, a most happy new year in this Year of the Monkey. And I'm pleased that we start out in this near year with good relations between the United States and China and it is our desire to improve those relations in order to benefit the people of China as well as the people of the United States. And when these two great nations are seen working together to improve relations, to improve the economies of both nations, I think this is a powerful signal to all nations in Asia and all nations in the world.

MR. YUEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. We wish you well and please say hello to your family. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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