TAIWAN: Reports from US come under fire

The Presidential Office said that the 'China Times' Washington reporter was consistently getting his facts and stories wrong

Taipei Times
Thursday, December 4, 2003

By Lin Chieh-yu
The Presidential Office yesterday described as ridiculous and groundless a China Times report from Washington claiming that President Chen Shui-bian had promised the US that Taiwan would buy the newest generation of the Patriot missile air defense system if Chen wins re-election.

"This reporter has written many incorrect stories making oblique charges," Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen said. "I want to urge the reporter's newspaper and himself to jointly shoulder responsibility for making these mistakes again and again."

Chiou, Chen's top aide and head of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) campaign staff, held a press conference at the Presidential Office to express his anger at the China Times' coverage.

He said that the reporter obviously intended to link US-Taiwan arms purchases with Chen's recent visit to the US.

"The government has concrete statutory procedures for arms purchases and the two countries' negotiations have been proceeding for a long time," Chiou said.

"The Ministry of National Defense has already clearly elaborated its stance and opinion on this. At the moment, only technology details are waiting for further negotiation, which surely does not need the president to make any promise," Chiou said.

"I remember that this reporter wrote a story before President Chen arrived in New York, which said that the US government will downgrade its treatment of Chen," Chiou said.

"However, when President Chen achieved a diplomatic breakthrough by receiving better treatment than ever before, this reporter dared to write that the high-level treatment was a result of personal favors from American Institute in Taiwan Chairwoman Therese Shaheen," Chiou said.

"What his stories described were far from the truth and ridiculous," Chiou said, adding that as the boss of a "senior journalist," the reporter's newspaper had to take responsibility for the reports.

Chen Chung-hsin, head of the DPP's China Affairs Department, later told the media that Taiwan had already deployed an upgraded PAC-2 system and was preparing to upgrade it to the PAC-3 system.

"This military procurement is a scheduled project of the MND, and the government's budget will be sent to the Legislative Yuan as soon as the price negotiations are completed," Chen said.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Joseph Wu said there was a "group" behind the scenes producing rumors to mislead the public about the US-Taiwan relationship.

He gave an example of incorrect media coverage, saying that reports claimed that AIT Director Douglas Paal had been summoned to Washington whereas he actually stayed in Taiwan.

"What the 'group' intends to do is to produce anxiety among the public, who may therefore blame President Chen and the DPP," Wu said.