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2004-04-05 16:56:55

    Taipei, April 5 (CNA) It is up to the United States whether or not the 25-year-old Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) should be revised, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien said Monday. "The TRA, which will turn 25 April 10, is a domestic law of the United States and we, the people of Taiwan, are in no position to comment on anything about U.S. law, " Chien said during a meeting at the Legislative Yuan Foreign Affairs Committee.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will respect any decisions that the U.S. administration or Congress make should the Americans decide to revise the TRA after they reach a consensus on the matter, Chien added.

    The TRA, passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Carter in 1979 after Washington switched its diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing, has since served to protect the interests and security of Taiwan and regulate unofficial ties between Taipei and Washington.

    Ling-hu Jung-da, deputy director of the foreign ministry's department of North American affairs said recently that the TRA virtually ensures Taiwan the best possible treatment from the United States next to formal diplomatic ties. "Taiwan would rather the United States keep the TRA intact than revise it, because attempts to do so could lead to 'unexpected results,'" Ling-hu said.

    He added that the TRA is not out of date in any way; rather, it has stabilized relations between Taipei and Washington and has prevented the United States from tilting the balance of power in Beijing's favor over the last 25 years.

    Noting that some pro-Taiwan U.S. Congressmen tried in vain to push for a Taiwan Security Enhancement Act in 1999, Ling-hu said that any attempts to revise the TRA might backlash and lead to results not intended by the initiators. Therefore, he went on, Taipei prefers "not to fix it if it is not broken."

    Actually, Ling-hu said, the TRA gives the U.S. administration considerable leeway in dealing with Taiwan, and can accommodate most attempts on the part of the Congress to promote bilateral ties.

    Also at the Legislative Yuan Foreign Affairs Committee meeting Monday, Chien was asked by opposition Kuomintang Legislator Sun Kuo-hua whether U.S.-Taiwan ties have dropped to their lowest point in 20 years since President Chen Shui-bian proposed a nationwide referendum in Taiwan and carried it out March 20.

    Chien said that U.S.-Taiwan ties have been "deep and wide, " and he sees the current bilateral relations as "not bad at all."

    Meanwhile, Chien said relations between Taiwan and France had apparently hit a snag before March 20 over the referendum issue, but that bilateral ties have gradually been restored. Chien, nevertheless, said that he would rather not disclose the details of the latest developments for fear that Beijing might try again to intervene or undermine them.

(By Deborah Kuo)


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