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2004-01-30 18:04:31

    Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) The government does not want to see heightened tensions in relations between Taiwan and France, but the "ingratiating" manner toward mainland China adopted by the French government is truly regrettable, a legislator of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Friday.

    Parris Chang, a convener of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the legislature, made the remarks after French President Jacques Chirac expressed opposition to Taiwan's planned referendum.

    The French president has come under fire in Taiwan since describing Taiwan's planned referendum as a "grave mistake" during a Paris banquet Monday hosted in honor of visiting mainland Chinese President Hu Jintao.

    President Chen Shui-bian said Tuesday that Chirac is not in a position to interfere with Taiwan's internal affairs, while Vice President Annette Lu also said that it is "shameful" for Chirac to make such comment. Premier Yu Shyi-kun confirmed that two Cabinet members -- Council for Cultural Affairs Chairwoman Tchen Yu-chiou and National Science Council Chairman Wei Che-ho -- have indefinitely postponed planned visits to France. "The government does not wish to see heightened tension in Taiwan-France relations, " Chang said, but is baffled as to why the leader of a democratic country was so "ingratiating" toward mainland China.

    Chang said that it is "truly regrettable" for Chirac to have sacrificed the principles of freedom and democracy for the sake of commercial greed.

    However, he predicted that after due protests by Taiwan, the flap over Chirac's comment should come to a close. "The government has no intention of seeing rising tension between the two countries, but hopes that France will not tilt too much toward mainland China."

    Meanwhile, Legislator Sun Ta-chien of the opposition People First Party (PFP) criticized the government for rebuking France but failing to respond in kind to the serious concerns expressed by the United States and Japan over the referendum.

    Sun accused the DPP government of traditionally attaching importance to the United States and Japan while "slighting" the European Union.

    Chang pointed out that the United States made a great deal of adjustment to its stance after seeing the two questions in the referendum -- whether Taiwan should strengthen its anti-missile capabilities and whether Taiwan should establish a peaceful and stable framework for cross-strait interaction.

    He noted that the United States opposes either side of the Taiwan Strait unilaterally changing the status quo and that it has also repeatedly said that if the mainland uses force to change the status quo, it will intercede.

    He further noted that Chirac has been overwhelmingly tilting toward the mainland, even asking the E.U. to lift its weapons embargo -- imposed on mainland China in response to the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators near Tiananmen Square in 1989 -- so that France can sell more weapons to the communist regime.

(By Lilian Wu)


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