The "American people" but not the U.S. government will be represented at the funeral of President Chiang Ching-kuo on Taiwan, the State Department said Wednesday.
In a statement put out by its representative to Taiwan, the U.S. government Wednesday praised Chiang Ching-kuo as "a wise and dedicated leader" who was always a good friend of the United States.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman expressed regret at the death of the president. Since the United States has no official relations with Taiwan, the U.S. government will not be sending an official funeral delegation, he said.
The United States severed formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan when it established relations with China on Jan. 1, 1979. Since then, each has been represented in the other country by unofficial organizations.
Redman said the State Department wants "to reflect in an appropriate fashion our longstanding friendship and respect for President Chiang and the people of Taiwan. As we do not have official relations with Taiwan, however, the delegation would represent the American people, on an unofficial basis."
'Good Friend' of U.S.
The statement, issued by the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests there, said:
"Americans join in mourning the passing of Chiang Ching-kuo, a wise and dedicated leader who was elected president on Taiwan in 1978 at a time when the United States maintained official relations with his government. President Chiang's steadfast devotion to creating conditions that enable the people on Taiwan to face the future with confidence gained him an ever wider circle of admirers in this country. He was always a good friend of the United States.
"Under President Chiang's enlightened and farsighted rule, the people of Taiwan prospered as they made dramatic progress in developing their industry and agriculture, raising their levels of scientific and technological achievement, expanding their health services, and improving their social well-being.
"Displaying clear vision and courageous determination, he succeeded over the years in moving his society toward a more open and pluralistic political system. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife, family and to the people of Taiwan."