Sun, Aug 19, 2012 - Page 8 News List

John Tkacik On Taiwan: US’ commitment to Taiwan is firm

By John Tkacik

Meanwhile, according to Lilley, the president insisted that he would not terminate arms sales and said that “we’ll risk a ‘downgrading’ of relations with the PRC” if it came to that.

Chinese negotiators had hit a brick wall and rationally decided to take the money and run.

“They dropped all references to the termination of such arms sales to Taiwan,” Lilley said.

It was either that or no communique.

On July 14, 1982, while Beijing scratched its head on whether to continue with the communique, Reagan pressured the Chinese government.

He delivered “six assurances” to Taiwan: The US would not agree to “cease” arms sales; not mediate between Taipei and Beijing; not revise the TRA; not push Taipei to negotiate with Beijing; not consult with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan; and — significantly — the US had not changed its “long-standing” position on the matter of “sovereignty over Taiwan.”

In his oral history, Lilley described Reagan as angry about Haig’s communique negotiations: He admonished NSC Asia director Gaston Sigur.

“Listen, this issue hit me at the last minute. I don’t like it. I want you to understand that my intention is that in the implementation of this communique, we will maintain a balance. If China becomes belligerent or builds up a power projection capability which brings insecurity or instability into the area, we will increase our arms sales to Taiwan, regardless of what the communique says,” he said.

The day the communique was published, Aug. 17, 1982, Reagan issued a short, four-paragraph confidential presidential directive, initialed by both his new secretary of state, George Shultz, and then-US secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger. It read: “As you know, I have agreed to the issuance of a joint communique with the People’s Republic of China in which we express US policy toward the matter of continuing arms sales to Taiwan.”

“The talks leading up to the signing of the communique were premised on the clear understanding that any reduction of such arms sales depends upon peace in the Taiwan Strait and the continuity of China’s declared ‘fundamental policy’ of seeking a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue,” he said.

“In short, the US’ willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned absolutely upon the continued commitment of China to the peaceful solution of the Taiwan- PRC differences. It should be clearly understood that the linkage between these two matters is a permanent imperative of US foreign policy,” he said.

“In addition, it is essential that the quantity and quality of the arms provided to Taiwan be conditioned entirely on the threat posed by the PRC. Both in quantitative and qualitative terms, Taiwan’s defense capability relative to that of the PRC will be maintained,” he said.

The next day, Aug. 18, assistant secretary of state John Holdridge personally appeared before a congressional committee to announce the approval sale of 250 new F-5E/F air force jets to Taiwan.

It has been 30 years since that last US-China “communique” and the US’ commitment to make “available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability” remains firm. I trust it will remain so 30 years from now.

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