Even though US Senator Dianne Feinstein went back to California during the congressional recess when Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) was visiting Washington last month, she managed to send Hu a much better welcome present than what the White House had to offer.
"It is important to point out a common misconception - nowhere does the TRA explicitly require the US to go to war with the mainland over Taiwan," said Feinstein, referring to the Taiwan Relations Act, in San Francisco a few hours after US President George W. Bush had met with Hu.
The senator was impeccable in proving her pro-China credentials. Not only did she utter something the VIP visitor would have loved and would have dreamed of coming from his host, but she also chose to air her view at a venue which would have gained a nod from Hu.
The Democrat was delivering a luncheon speech, titled "Taiwan and the Sino-American Relationship: Thoughtful Management, Consistent Attention," at the 15th annual conference of the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American organization devoted to strengthening US-China relations with a logo that states "seeking common ground while respecting differences" (read: pro-China).
It's noteworthy that Feinstein previously has boasted about her close ties with two former Communist leaders: former president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and former premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基).
Senator Feinstein must be dying to cultivate her relationship with the current helmsman. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and China's public enemy No. 1, no surprise, was a target in her speech.
Feinstein blasted Chen for taking a provocative and belligerent stance toward China, all for his personal political gain, in hopes that he can be hailed as the savior who stands up to Communist China. And she praised Beijing for declining to take Chen's bait.
She also said the US had no obligation to defend Taiwan if the latter provokes China into a military confrontation.
Hu should be happy to have such a good friend.
The TRA was overwhelmingly passed by the two chambers of Congress and reluctantly signed into law by former US president Jimmy Carter on April 10, 1979.
It was in reality "a treaty imposed by the Congress through legislative action," said Heritage Foundation senior fellow Harvey Feldman, a retired ambassador who was the director of the Office of Republic of China Affairs at the State Department when Carter betrayed Taiwan to recognize Communist China in early 1979.
Outraged by the Carter administration's indifference to Taiwan's fate, Congress took the matter into its hand and passed the TRA to protect and support the long time ally as much as possible in the absence of diplomatic relations. Among the key clauses are:
To make clear that the US decision to establish diplomatic relations with China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means;
To consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the US;
To provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character;
And finally, to maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people in Taiwan.