Sun, Dec 14, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Nothing has changed in US policy

By the Liberty Times editorial

After the summit meeting between US President George W. Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), Bush, with respect to the issue of the situation in the Taiwan Strait, which is the focus of much public attention, indicated that the US' policy is a "one China" policy based on the Three Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.

Bush also said that the US opposes any unilateral change to the status quo, regardless of whether it is China or Taiwan that attempts to change it, and that the recent words and action of the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may have decided to make changes unilaterally, which is something that the US opposes.

Bush's words immediately made waves in Taiwan's political circles. All sorts of declarations and comments were released by the pan-blue and the pro-China camps, all severely criticizing the so-called irresponsibility of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) government in putting the US-Taiwan relationship in the most precarious situation since the end of formal diplomatic ties between the two.

Some members of the media went hysterical, saying "do not let an election destroy the future of Taiwan," and deliberately spreading a sense of fear that we are at the brink of war and destruction.

It cannot be denied that Bush's words revealed suspicion on the part of the US government toward the Chen government's intention to hold a defensive public referendum on March 20.

The concern is apparently that the move could lead to a change in the status quo, triggering tension in the Taiwan Strait as a result.

Bush's statement can be characterized as very harsh, coming from someone who could be the most Taiwan-friendly president since the end of the formal diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

However, if we carefully analyze the recent words of Bush and US officials, without taking words out of context and without overinterpreting, this conclusion is inevitable: no matter how the US may change its wording, the core of its cross-strait policy continues to be opposition to unilateral change. Despite different packaging, the US' cross-strait policy has never departed from the core spirit and substance of the Three Communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act, the "one China" policy and the principle of "peaceful resolution."

In a nutshell, the point is to "maintain the status quo." In this spirit, though the US may have recognized Beijing as the sole legitimate government of China, and severed its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, it merely acknowledges China's position that "Taiwan is part of China," but does not recognize that position as truth.

In other words, while the US understands China's position, it has given neither its approval nor agreement.

Moreover, the US' Taiwan Relations Act requires that its government assist Taiwan in defense. The US government therefore sells defensive arms to Taiwan based on this.

All this demonstrates the spirit of a policy to "maintain the status quo."

Still, since the substance of the US' cross-strait policy is to "maintain the status quo," and the theme of the defensive public referendum that Taiwan intends to hold is to "oppose Chinese missiles and demand peace," which is the equivalent of maintaining the status quo, it is very surprising that the US government has not expressed support of the referendum.

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