President Lee Teng-hui said that after 40 years of hard work, the Republic of China has accumulated considerable economic strength, and is most willing to contribute to the international community by providing its expertise and development experience to those countries in need of help. He made the remarks when meeting with former US Senator Bob Dole today.
The President said that in order to help other Asian countries weather the financial crisis, the ROC has proposed a CBO (collateralized bond obligations) package, which is a feasible proposal and, if implemented, will benefit those financially battered Southeast Asian countries.
On cross-strait relations, President Lee maintained that dialogue is better than military confrontation. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait are two political entities with equal status, he said. "We are politically equal with Peking, and we would like to strengthen dialogue with them in order to promote better and more accurate mutual understanding."
He stated that Taipei and Washington have maintained long-standing and close relations. Although mainland China has a vast territory and large population, the ROC imports more from the US than mainland China does, showing Taiwan's great market potential and purchasing power, the President pointed out. Therefore, the US and the ROC should further step up their cooperation and other relations, which should be of benefit to their two peoples, he said.
Recently devastated by Hurricane Mitch, Central America has drawn the attention and humanitarian aid from the world community. Mrs. Dole is currently leading a group to that region to render assistance. President Lee said with grief that the hurricane-stricken Central American countries are the ROC's allies, and that the ROC has joined the international community in providing monetary fund and food to them. "What we offer to them is not only physical aid but, more importantly, our compassion," he said.
During the meeting, President Lee also expressed his appreciation for Mr. Dole's support for the ROC over the years. He said he hopes that Mr. Dole will keep close contact with and continue giving assistance to the ROC.
Mr. Dole expressed his admiration for the ROC's ability to weather the Asian financial crisis by adopting adequate countermeasures. He also indicated that Mr. Bob Livingston, who succeeded Mr. Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has long been familiar with and friendly to Taiwan. Now that Mr. Livingston has assumed that post, advances in Washington-Taipei relations can be expected, Mr. Dole said.
Accompanied by ROC Vice Foreign Minister David Lee, Mr. Dole and his four aides met with President Lee at the Presidential Office this morning. Secretary-General Ding Mou-shih of the National Security Council and Su Chi, Deputy Secretary-General to the President, were also present at the occasion.