President Lee Teng-hui told visiting US Energy Secretary William Blaine Richardson today that the government and people of the Republic of China welcome and appreciate the commitment of President Clinton and his administration to maintaining the security and stability of Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region.
President Lee said that the ROC and the United States have enjoyed a long-standing friendship and close cooperation. "We look forward to further strengthening our relations with Washington in all areas, and are most willing to offer our resources to help the US settle relevant issues," he added.
Accompanied by Darryl Johnson, Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, and Calvin Ricardo Humphrey, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, US Energy Department, Mr. Richardson met with President Lee at the Presidential Office this afternoon. Ding Mou-shih, Secretary-General of the National Security Council, Foreign Minister Jason Hu and Su Chi, Deputy Secretary-General to the President, were also present.
Several times in the meeting, Mr. Richardson told President Lee that on behalf of the US government, he is visiting the ROC to attend the 22nd Joint Conference of the ROC-USA and US-ROC (Taiwan) Business Councils, and that the major purpose of his visit is to demonstrate the friendship of the US government and people toward the ROC.
He reassured the President that US policy toward Taiwan has remained unchanged.
President Lee said that he is particularly pleased with Mr. Richardson's visit to the ROC, which he believes will further enhance the long-standing friendship between the two countries.
During the meeting, the fourth-time visitor to Taiwan expressed his concern over cross-strait relations, the ROC's economic development and its accession to the World Trade Organization. He exchanged views extensively with the President on these matters.
President Lee stated that he has always taken the development of cross-strait relations seriously, and that he looks forward to the two sides of the Strait interacting in a favorable way. He pointed out, however, "we hope that Peking will understand the real situation, and in particular, that both sides will show respect for each other's status as an equal entity."
If "one China" refers to the People's Republic of China, "we can never accept it, because the ROC has been existing as a sovereignty which upholds democracy and freedom," President Lee asserted. "This is a fact known throughout the world."
Although the ROC and mainland China have different views on "equal status" and "one China," he said, "we will not give up seeking any opportunity for cross-strait dialogue."
"We hope further that Peking will implement democracy as soon as possible." In fact, only through democratization, can the goal of a unified China be realized at the earliest possible time, he maintained.
There is still a long way ahead before Peking's democratization, but "I believe that our ideal in this regard conforms with that of Washington," the President said. "Only with a stable Taiwan Strait can there be a prosperous and secure Asia, a development which the US should want to see."
Fully agreeing with President Lee's points, Mr. Richardson said that the President showed foresight in his views.
On Taipei's participation in the World Trade Organization, President Lee frankly voiced the ROC's stance. The ROC government and people have made sufficient preparations for the country's admission to the WTO, including amending and formulating laws and regulations, as well as dissolving doubts and worries of farmers, industry and businesses. However, it is regrettable that the ROC has yet to be admitted to that organization as scheduled, he added.
The President said he hopes that Mr. Richardson will gain a better understanding of the ROC's position and endeavors regarding its WTO accession. "In fact, the ROC's joining the WTO at an early date will be of great benefit to all WTO member countries," he maintained.
Mr. Richardson said that he completely understands the position of President Lee and the ROC government, and that he will convey the information gained from his visit to President Clinton and relevant US government departments. He also expressed his hope that the economic and trade exchanges and cooperation between Taipei and Washington will grow even closer in order to enhance the well-being of the two peoples.