The China Post staff
Officials in Taipei said yesterday they would not “overreact” to PRC Vice Premier Qian Qichen’s opposition to the possible U.S. sale of the advanced Aegis battle management system to the island, as it was Beijing’s consistent stance over the issue.
Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Lin Chong-pin said the mainland’s concurrent attempts to upgrade its military equipment and to interfere with Taiwan’s acquisition of defensive arms were harmful to the interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, he told reporters at a press conference yesterday morning. Commenting on the mainland Chinese top foreign policy official’s opposition to the arms sales, Lin said “Opposition to the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan is communist China’s consistent stance. We don’t have to overreact to Qian Qichen’s remarks made in the U.S.” Lin said the U.S. would consider Taiwan’s needs and negotiate with Taiwan officials before reaching a decision on the arms sales to Taiwan, adding that such decision would be made in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and the “Six Assurances.” U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently reaffirmed the Six Assurances and that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will not be subject to prior consultation with Beijing. Aegis, a total weapons system centered around a powerful radar, is capable of simultaneously tracking over 100 targets, detecting and wiping out aircraft, submarines and surface vessels, as well as missiles.
In response to the mainland’s endeavor to halt the Aegis sale, an official with the Presidential office told reporters yesterday that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan would be based on Taiwan’s needs and the deployment of mainland armed forces, adding the U.S. has also been worried over the missile deployment by the mainland. He said the mainland Chinese officials have politicized the Aegis sale and they believed the mainland would be a winner in the competition with Taiwan if the U.S. decided not to sell the system in late April. He anticipated that Taiwan citizens would focus their attention on safety of the country rather than on the Aegis sale. “We have reiterated to the international community that Taiwan has no intention of launching an arms race with the mainland. But we need the basic capacity to defend ourselves as the mainland has not yet ruled out the use of force against us,” he added. Meanwhile, Chang Hsiao-yueh, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that Taiwan hoped that the U.S. would not make any decision that is harmful to Taiwan in the negotiations with the mainland. Chang told a press conference yesterday that Taiwan was concerned with measures to gradually upgrade the U.S.-Taiwan relationship rather than the mainland’s efforts made in elevating its relations with the U.S. However, she said Taiwan wished that the U.S. would handle affairs concerning Taiwan and mainland China separately. Chang said Taiwan has accepted many gestures of goodwill from the U.S. and is optimistic over the U.S.-Taiwan relationship, though Taiwan still hoped that the U.S. would abandon its “three noes” policy. Foreign Minister Tien Hung-mao on Tuesday urged that the U.S. to abandon the “three noes” policy outlined by President Bill Clinton in 1998 in Shanghai.