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U.S. beef discontent can be handled: national security council

U.S. beef discontent can be handled: national security council

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) A high-ranking National Security Council (NSC) official said Thursday that a high-level meeting convened a day earlier was enough to address Washington's discontent over ban on U.S. beef proposed by the legislature.
Speaking during a hearing at the Legislative Yuan on the beef controversy, NSC Deputy Secretary-General Lee Hai-tung said there is no need for the country to convene a national security meeting over the latest situation, including the U.S. discontent and the possible retaliatory moves that could result.
Lee said that according to the law, if a national security meeting is convened, the heads of more than 10 Cabinet-level agencies should attend, adding that the controversy is not serious enough to warrant being tackled by a national security meeting.
He was responding to ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lu Shiow-yen, who asked whether it is necessary for the NSC to convene a national security meeting to handle the situation, which Lu described as "a diplomatic crisis between Taiwan and the United States." After meeting with Premier Wu Den-yih and other officials Wednesday on the beef controversy, President Ma Ying-jeou instructed that a delegation should be sent to Washington to mitigate the fallout from the legislature's decision.
The administration has stepped up fence-mending efforts after the Legislative Yuan declined to endorse the protocol that Taiwan signed with the U.S. in October that lifted previous bans on U.S. bone-in beef and various other beef products.
The Legislative Yuan decided to amend the Act Governing Food Sanitation in a way that would ban imports of "risky" beef products from areas where cases of mad cow disease have been documented over the past decade.
The legislative move has drawn a stern rebuke from Washington, which thinks the planned amendment contravenes the protocol.
Officials in Washington said that after the protracted talks that led to the October lifting of the ban, the legislature's unilateral reversal will damage Taiwan's credibility.
"The Taiwanese authorities should consider very carefully the impact that passage of the amendment in its current form will have on Taiwan's reputation as a reliable trading partner and responsible member of the international community, " a U.S. statement said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng called for the U.S. government not to take advantage of the beef controversy to defer its plan to grant visa-free privileges for Taiwan tourists visiting the United States.
Wang noted that the administration will have no option but to accept the amendment, which is likely to be passed into law Jan. 5 by the ruling Kuomintang-dominated legislature.
Besides, he added, one of the attached strings of the amendment stipulates that political responsibility in the wake of the amendment should be borne by both the legislature and the administration.
On the notion of whether the Legislative Yuan should send a delegation to Washington to drive home its stance, Wang said that if a delegation representing the whole legislature is to be sent, its implementation will require a legislative resolution.
"The legislators, however, have the right to join the Executive Yuan delegation as individuals, if invited, " he continued.
Wang said Washington should also know that the amendment involves a ban that would affect only about 2 percent of Taiwan's total U.S.
beef imports.
(By Chou Yung-chieh, Kelven Huang and Deborah Kuo)




Updated : 2021-03-02 03:59 GMT+08:00