Wed, Dec 22, 2004 - Page 1 News List

US defense of Taiwan would be Congress' decision

CNA

The US Congress will decide whether the US should go to war with China should it attack Taiwan, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Monday.

In an interview with the PBS television station, the number two man at the US state department said the Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to maintain sufficient force in the Pacific to be able to deter attack, but does not require the country to defend Taiwan should it come under attack from China. He added that the power to declare war rests with Congress.

He admitted that Taiwan is "probably the biggest landmine" in Washington's ties with Beijing, although the US has managed to develop relations with China while maintaining good relations with the people of Taiwan.

He said the US deals with China based on three communiques with Beijing, including an acknowledgement that there is but one China, of which Taiwan is a part, adding that "we'll have to continue that way."

Armitage's statements caused ripples in Taipei's political circles yesterday, with a spokesman for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) calling it a warning to the Democratic Progressive Party.

KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said it is an indication that Washington is trying to keep Taipei at arms length amid increased pressure from Beijing, which bodes ill for Taiwan.

Chang said Armitage has made it clear that Washington will not be drawn into a military conflict with China if Taiwan makes a reckless pursuit of independence.

In response to the statements, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Michael Lu (呂慶龍) said that what Armitage had referred to as "landmine" should be taken to mean "a highly sensitive issue that needs to be viewed cautiously."

"Second, as for Armitage's remark that `the US Congress will decide whether the US should go to war with China should it attack Taiwan, it simply reflects the basic principle stipulated in the TRA," Lu said.

Lu also said the ministry has instructed Taiwan's envoy in Washington, David Lee (李大維), to monitor future developments closely.

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