US President George W. Bush said again yesterday that the US would defend Taiwan if China invaded.
When asked in an interview with the Fox News TV Channel, "Do we [the US] still stand by an agreement, Mr. President, that if Taiwan is ever invaded, we will come to the defense of Taiwan?" Bush said: "Yes, we do. It's called the Taiwan Relations Act."
Bush also said he believed that "time will heal" the political dispute between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
"My attitude is that time will heal this issue. And therefore we're trying to make sure that neither side provokes the other through unilateral action," he said.
Bush explained that the US stance supported a "one China" policy based on the Three Communiques.
Moreover, Bush said, the US adhered to the Taiwan Relations Act, which meant that it opposed either side of the Taiwan Strait unilaterally changing the status quo.
"In other words, neither side will make a decision that steps outside the bounds of that statement I just made to you. If China were to invade unilaterally, we would rise up in the spirit of [the] Taiwan Relations Act. If Taiwan were to declare independence, it would be a unilateral decision that would then change the US equation," Bush added.
Asked about his views on US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recent criticism of China's rapid military buildup despite not facing any threats in the region, Bush said the US-China relationship was a complex one.
"It is complex because we deal with each other on a variety of fronts. One front, of course, is our defense posture," he said.
When asked whether he trusted China, Bush said: "So far, I do. We'll see ... time will tell."
In response, the Presidential Office yesterday said that its position was in sync with that of the US government, stating that, "Taiwan stands by safeguarding the peaceful status quo across the Taiwan Strait, and that the solution to cross-strait issues must be resolved via peaceful means."
What the international community should pay attention to, the Presidential Office said, is whether or not China uses "non-peaceful means" to alter the cross-strait status quo in the wake of enacting the "Anti-Secession" Law in March.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also welcomed Bush's affirmation of Washington's pledge that the US would help defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China.
"We welcome President Bush's reiteration of the US government's stance. He means that to achieve peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, all Pacific-rim nations must make an effort," Foreign Ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said.
Lu said Bush sent a clear message to both sides of the Taiwan Strait that neither side should alter the status quo.
"We will not seek independence. Our constitutional reforms are a domestic issue which will not lead to Taiwan declaring independence. President Chen Shui-bian has promised this many times," he said.
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AIT reaffirms US commitment to Taiwan's defense