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2004-03-30 19:59:55

    Taipei, March 30 (CNA) The Presidential Office said Tuesday that Washington Post reporters have misinterpreted President Chen Shui-bian's remarks on his basic stance on relations with mainland China during his second term.

    Chen gave a one-hour interview with David Huffman, the Washington Post's diplomatic news editor, and Philip Pan, the paper's correspondent in Beijing, at the Presidential Office a day earlier.

    In the paper's online version of the interview, the two journalists wrote in the lead of their report: "President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan condemned China on Monday for blocking popular demands for democratic reforms in Hong Kong, saying its actions have made the Taiwanese more determined to reject unification with the mainland and to continue building their own 'independent, sovereign country' despite the risk of war."

    Commenting on the lead, Presidential Office spokesman James Huang said it was misleading. "The Washington Post journalists apparently misinterpreted President Chen's explanations of his fundamental stance and policy guidelines, " Huang said, adding that Chen did not utter any of the words that appeared in the lead.

    On the contrary, Huang said, Chen stressed that Taiwan will not be drawn into an expensive arms race with mainland China and will not develop offensive weapons to deter a mainland attack. "In the interview, President Chen clearly said he wants to put aside his differences with Beijing on Taiwan's status and to begin negotiations to improve cross-strait relations, including establishing a viable mechanism for peaceful interaction, opening direct air and shipping links and reducing military tensions, " Huang said.

    He also dismissed as "misleading and misinterpreting" the paper's headline: "Taiwan President Raises the Stakes With China Again."

    Apart from the headline and the lead, Huang said the Washington Post report on Chen's interview was generally correct. It was Chen's first interview with the media since a failed attempt on his life March 19 and his narrow re-election victory the following day.

(By Sofia Wu)


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