The arms procurement package pending in the Legislative Yuan is a decisive factor in future Taiwan-U.S. relations, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) said yesterday.
Chen made the remarks at a year-end MOFA news conference yesterday.
"Taiwan-U.S. relations have improved quite a bit this year and there is no reason to foresee a negative change. U.S. President George W. Bush's speech in Kyoto last month is evidence of this.
However, subtle changes are not easy to detect and a key unresolved issue is the U.S. arms purchase package. If it clears the legislative floor, it will show Taiwan's determination to defend itself," he said.
Chen said he thinks opposition leaders will eventually make concessions and that this January is the best time to observe their behavior in this regard.
"There is a limit to boycotting the arms deal. If it goes too far, the people will express their disagreement. Politicians should take into account these possible consequences," Chen said.
Meanwhile, the opposition Kuomintang and People First Party blocked the arms bill for the 43rd time from the legislative agenda yesterday, prompting ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers to question how long the opposition intended to boycott the bill.
Also yesterday, the Legislature's Procedure Committee listed a bill to deal with the release of government shareholdings in two terrestrial TV stations as the first item to be dealt with Friday. This bill is part of the campaign to free media organizations from political influence.
Another controversial issue was also addressed in yesterday's legislative meeting, as KMT and the PFP lawmakers put forward a list of National Communications Commission nominations for approval in Friday's legislative session. The opposition parties in the Legislature had been pushing the Cabinet to complete its list of nominees for the NCC, but the Cabinet claimed that one person had declined to accept the nomination and the list was therefore still incomplete.
Yesterday, the Procedure Committee also decided to forward the case of DPP Legislator Lin Chung-mo (林重謨), who had allegedly engaged in physical conflict with independent lawmaker Chiu Yi (邱毅) in the Legislature last week, to the Discipline Committee.
In response, Lin protested the resolution, saying that while chairing a meeting he had knocked Chiu's hand while attempting to maintain order, as Chiu was disrupting the proceedings at the time.