Taiwan envoy addresses 'abridged' points in AFP interview

Washington, Feb. 4 (CNA) Taiwan's top envoy to the United States said Monday that many of the points he made in an interview with Agence France Presse in New York late last month were "abridged" and that his office will ask the wire service to make the necessary corrections. According to King Pu-tsung, the "strategic ambiguity" to which AFP referred during the interview was not referring to the trilateral relationship among Taiwan, China and the U.S., but rather to only those between Taiwan and China. In a Washington-datelined report earlier in the day titled "Suprise Envoy Protects Taiwan's 'Shield' of Ambiguity," AFP said that during the interview, King highlighted the importance of the "strategic ambiguity" that Taiwan maintains with China on one side and the its protector, the United States, on the other. In a statement, King said his "strategic ambiguity" refers to cross-Taiwan Strait relations, which are handled based on the "1992 consensus" between Taiwan and China that says there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what the phrase means. As to the trilateral ties among Taiwan, China and the U.S., King said the three parties need to maintain a balanced and stable relationship. The AFP quoted King as saying: "We need strong support from the United States, but we also need to deal cautiously with China because now it is the number one partner of Taiwan. "It is a very strategic ambiguity that we have. It is the best shield we have," he was quoted. In his statement, King said he called China Taiwan's "number one partner" in the sense that China is its principal trade partner and the biggest export market for Taiwanese products. During the interview with AFP, King said he cited many trade figures and emphasized Taiwan's need to diversify its markets, as well as to strengthen cooperation with the U.S. and other countries. The envoy, who only assumed his post last December, went on to explain why he must "use particular caution" when making public statements, owing to his assumed close ties with President Ma Ying-jeou. "Because people think that I have a close relationship with President Ma Ying-jeou, what I say could easily be construed as representing President Ma's ideas," King said. In its report, AFP said King's links to Ma are important, quoting King as saying that "what I say can probably represent what he (Ma) is thinking in the future." King said he issued his "clarification" statement because the AFP story "blended different parts of the interview" in a way that may "provoke many misunderstandings." He said he did not talk directly about his relations with the president in the interview. "I was passively responding to questions raised by the interviewers" regarding ties with the president, he added. The AFP report presented a background of King as someone who is considered "the power behind the Taiwanese throne as the president's election strategist and former head of the ruling Kuomintang." The interview took place in New York when he visited the city in late January, in the presence of Andrew Kao, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, as well as members of Kao's staff. (By Tony Liao and S.C. Chang)