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    Don't Blame China for Setbacks

Chen says don't blame China for setbacks

NO EXCUSE: Though a formidable force, China's meddling is no reason to justify a breakdown in foreign relations with other countries, the president said while in Santo Domingo.

By Lin Chien-yu  August 17, 2000, Taipei Times

President Chen Shui-bian on Tuesday urged the nation's foreign affairs officials to quit using "oppression from China" as an excuse when foreign relations suffer a setback.

"I've noticed that many of our government colleagues and people think that China's oppression and obstructions are the best excuse when our foreign relations break down," Chen said.

"Such an excuse is definitely not a good one. Those who do not expect to succeed can always find an excuse to cover their faults. Those who are confident of succeeding can certainly accomplish great things," the president said.

Chen made the remarks during a luncheon hosted by Sun Ta-cheng, Taiwan's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, on Tuesday.

On Monday, Sun updated the president on the status of relations with the Dominican Republic, saying China was resorting to every conceivable means to destroy ties between Taiwan and its Central American ally.

But despite the challenge, Chen again on Tuesday expressed his confidence in the friendship between the two nations.

Speaking to the country's foreign affairs officials, Chen said he could understand the arduousness of the fight against Beijing, and encouraged officials to maintain their vigilance in protecting Taiwan's interests, status and dignity.

"As long as we have the determination, we will have the willpower to do it," he said.

The president said that foreign relations were the most important symbol of a nation's independent sovereignty.

A one-time advocate of Taiwan independence, Chen also recognized the significance of the ROC national flag, saying the flag takes on special importance when viewed in faraway places.

"The national flag of the ROC is our common language -- not differentiating party affiliation, ethnic group or ideology," Chen said. "When I was still the mayor of Taipei, the flag was carried with me wherever I went, including to Russia and Japan."

In addition, Chen pledged to carry out all cooperation projects promised by the former KMT government and invited foreign heads of state to attend Taiwan's National Day celebrations in October.

"The transfer of power in Taiwan will not change the government's foreign policies. Those promises and cooperation projects that have been agreed to previously will be loyally carried out in the future," Chen said, quoted by Eugene Chien, deputy secretary-general to the Presidential Office.

On the second of his four-day visit, Chen yesterday morning met the Dominican Republic's outgoing president, Leonel Fernandez, and its incoming president, Hipolito Mejia. Later, he met Panama's Second Vice President Ingeniero Bazan, Haiti's President Rene Preval and El Salvador's Vice President Carlos Quintanilla.

During meetings with those leaders yesterday, Chen said he planned to visit Panama in the near future and reciprocate the enthusiasm Panama has shown for him.

Panama's president, vice president and speaker of its parliament visited Taiwan after May 20, when Chen was inaugurated.

Chen also said that he will ask shipping magnate and Evergreen Group Chairman Chang Jung-fa, who he described as the best communication bridge between Taiwan and Panama, to join him on his future visit.

Also yesterday Chen told Ramon Alburqueque, the speaker of the Dominican Republic's Congress, that Taiwan would contribute US$4.8 million as a loan guarantee to help the country get a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

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