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Democracy foundation defends aid to Chinese dissidents

Central News Agency
June 14, 2009

Taipei, June 14 (CNA) The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, a nonprofit organization set up by the government to promote democracy around the world, defended Sunday its financial aid to Chinese dissidents and Tibetans who have called for Tibet's independence.

Maysing H. Yang, vice president of the foundation, said it is normal for democracy-promoting groups in Western countries to help these people.

"Why should Taiwan have the foundation if it doesn't help human rights and democracy activists? " Yang said in an interview with the Central News Agency.

"Those who criticize the foundation simply don't know its purpose and mission." Yang's comments came as a local newspaper reported that President Ma Ying-jeou's administration is set to reshuffle the top officials of the foundation appointed by the previous administration of President Chen Shui-bian, with Yang among the targets.

The paper said the foundation's aid to Chinese dissidents and Tibetan independence activists has made Ma look like a double-dealer in calling for better ties with China.

What raised the eyebrows of Ma's administration is the foundation's attempts to seek contacts with Cuba, "which could jeopardize Taiwan's ties with Washington, " the paper cited an anonymous senior official as saying.

Yang argued that the U.S. has offered aid to Chinese dissidents and Tibetan independence activists as well, but that did not hinder Washington's engagement with Beijing at all.

She admitted that her foundation did extend financial aid four years ago to U.S.-based Cuban groups that promote democracy in Cuba at the urging of pro-Taiwan U.S. congressmen, but that the funding stopped two years ago.

Yang said the aid offered by the foundation was "above board" and verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Audit, and she denied reports it was not properly recorded in the foundation's accounts.

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