Tsai denies pessimistic U.S. report to president

The China Post staff

Mainland Affairs official yesterday said she never told President Chen Shui-bian Washington was very upset with his earlier description of two sides of the Taiwan Strait as two separate countries.

Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said she has never submitted any report to the president which says the United States finds Chen’s characterization as very unpleasant. “I have never heard of such report… I would like to have a copy if there is one,” Tsai said.

The comment came after independent lawmaker Sisy Chen told reporters Tsai had tendered such a report to Chen after returning from Washington. Tsai also warned in the report that Beijing will show no more friendliness to Taipei after Chen’s provocative remark, according to lawmaker Chen. President Chen, in a speech to a group of pro-independence advocates a few weeks ago, said Taiwan and mainland China are two separate countries, dropping a bombshell to the already shaky cross-strait relations. Beijing responded angrily to the president’s remark, warning he was leading the island into catastrophe.

President Chen’s remark reminded many cross-strait watchers of heightened tensions after former President Lee Teng-hui said Taiwan and mainland China were in “special state-to-state” relations in 1999,.

Tsai flew to Washington days after Chen made the remark to assure U.S. government officials that Taipei’s policy toward the mainland has not changed in any essential way despite what the president had said. Tsai also said the media exaggerated Chen’s remark. While tensions seem to have subsided, some are worried the president may have set back any improvement achieved in his past two years in cross-strait ties. In a special report, the Central News Agency said yesterday Taiwan’s efforts to return to the United Nations may also suffer with the U.S. likely to openly oppose the idea this year.