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2004-03-01 22:26:56

    Taipei, March 1 (CNA) Relations between Taiwan and the United States will not change after the March 20 presidential election, a government official predicted Monday.

    Replying to questions raised by reporters after attending an international symposium on Taiwan's national defense held in Taipei, Lee Ming-hsien, Taiwan's deputy representative to the United States, said that the United States will continue to support Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act regardless of who wins the election.

    The United States has a neutral position on Taiwan's presidential race, Lee noted, adding that Washington is more concerned about the referendum, which it thinks might involve Taiwan's sovereignty and its independence or unification with mainland China.

    These concerns have been eased since President Chen Shui-bian announced Jan. 16 the two questions to be put to the referendum, which Lee said have nothing to do with a change in the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo.

    Washington now neither opposes nor endorses the referendum to be held alongside the presidential election in which opposition Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan will challenge Chen's re-election bid.

    The two questions placed by Chen before the electorate are: Should the government buy new anti-missile systems to counter Beijing's growing missile build-up? And should the government open talks with Beijing to establish a peace and stability framework for cross-strait interaction?

(By Huang Kwang-chun)


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