Sat, Jul 23, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Republicans repeat ‘six assurances’

By Chen-shen Yen 嚴震生

The platform of the quadrennial national convention of US political parties tends to attract attention in Taiwan with relation to the following questions on Taiwan-US relations: Do the candidates mention Taiwan and do they take a friendly stance? If they do, what exactly is the specific wording on Taiwan?

If this year’s Republican Party platform is compared with the four previous ones in the 21st century, it can be seen that the coverage on Taiwan is much longer than the one in 2008, but about similar in length to those in 2000, 2004 and 2012.

In all five platforms of the convention, the Republicans praised Taiwan’s shared values with the US, such as democracy, and respect for human rights and the market economy. Usually, the platform also mentions the Taiwan Relations Act, a US commitment to provide defensive arms to the island, and US support for Taiwan’s participation in intergovernmental organizations. In 2000, these organizations were the WTO and the WHO; in 2012 and this year they were the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

What Taiwanese do not appreciate is the appearance of the US’ “one China” policy as a cornerstone to manage the triangular relationship between Taiwan, the US and China. Taiwanese diplomats worked hard to ensure that if the Three Communiques are mentioned, they would be countered with the inclusion of the Taiwan Relations Act, just as in the 2004 platform.

In the past three platforms, the Taiwan Relations Act was introduced without mentioning the “one China” policy, even though the statement was qualified with a “no unilateral change of ‘status quo.’”

This year’s platform for the first time incorporated the “six assurances” from former US president Ronald Reagan’s era that would no doubt be welcomed by Taiwan and with little surprise.

The “six assurances” were promised by Reagan on the eve of the Aug. 17, 1982, Sino-US joint communique.

They said: 1) The US would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan; 2) The US would not consult with China in advance before making decisions about US arms sales to Taiwan; 3) The US would not alter the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act; 4) The US would not mediate between Taiwan and China; 5) The US would not alter its position on the sovereignty of Taiwan, which is that the question was to be decided peacefully by Chinese; and 6) The US would not pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.

In the quarter of a century after the assurances were made, Washington has faithfully carried out the promises in its policy toward Taiwan. However, since the assurances were not given in print, Taiwanese diplomats have harbored a feeling of unease on their applicability and validity.

A congressional resolution by the US Senate and the US House of Representatives passed in May not only demonstrated the US’ continued support for the Taiwan Relations Act, but also specifically put the “six assurances” in writing.

Since the Republicans have a majority in both houses of the US Congress, the emergence of the “six assurances” in the platform came as no surprise. There might be limited space to spell out all the assurances, as only peaceful resolution of Taiwan’s future and sale of defensive weapons to the island were named.

However, as the last two assurances also appeared on previous platforms, it is thus evident that part of the “six assurances” has been put into writing.

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