Wed, Jun 15, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Kissinger rewrites US policy

Readers might find former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger's op-ed piece in the Washington Post of interest ("China: Containment Won't Work," June 13).

I will leave it to others to comment on Kissinger's prescriptions for US policy on China, which aim to "witness a new world order compatible with universal aspirations for peace and progress."

And as for his statement that, "The Chinese state in its present dimensions has existed substantially for 2,000 years," we might want to ask the Tibetans and Uighurs about that -- to mention only two peoples within China's present territory.

But I am more concerned with Kissinger's statement that, "Despite substantial US arms sales to Taiwan, Sino-American relations have steadily improved based on three principles: American recognition of the one-China principle and opposition to an independent Taiwan; China's understanding that the United States requires the solution to be peaceful and is prepared to vindicate that principle; restraint by all parties in not exacerbating tensions in the Taiwan Strait."

Surely you jest, Mr. Kissinger.

You were there at its creation, so you know full well that the Shanghai Communique never said that the US "recognizes" Beijing's claim that Taiwan is part of China. "Acknowledges" is the word that was used, and with clear intent to show that the US knew this was Beijing's position but that the US did not ratify this position. Testimony in hearings before Congress by numerous State Department officials over the years have underscored this point.

I believe that anyone reading the Kissinger article would come away with the clear idea that the US recognizes Beijing's claim to Taiwan as part of China. But this is simply not so.

Kissinger also claims that Sino-American relations have steadily improved based on three principles, one of which is US recognition of the "one China" principle.

Maybe Kissinger & Associates deals with its China business interests based on this principle. But the US government does not.

In hearings before Congress, the Bush administration has been clear about the fact that the US has a "one China" policy and that this is distinct from China's "one China" principle. The US "one China" policy recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and states that any resolution of the Taiwan question must be resolved peacefully, by mutual agreement and, because Taiwan is a democracy, with the consent of the people of Taiwan.

The US is agnostic on the sovereignty question, deeming it to be unresolved. The "one China" principle is China's formulation and reflects the earlier statement by Kissinger of "recognition" of the Chinese claim that Taiwan is part of China.

US President George W. Bush may have said in private conversations with Chinese officials that he opposes Taiwan's independence. The Chinese press has certainly reported this as if it were fact. But the State Department has adamantly said that the US position on this issue has not changed, namely that the US does not support Taiwan's independence.

Read the Kissinger transcripts of his conversations with former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) and Mao Zedong (毛澤東) in 1971 and you will see that Kissinger dearly wanted to close a deal, and was willing to give private assurances to the Chinese leaders about Taiwan that went far beyond the text of the communique.

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