The US policy on Taiwan is comprised of an inseparable "package" which includes its commitment to helping Taiwan defend itself, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday.
Rice made the comments during a question-and-answer session after delivering the Heritage Foundation's Annual B.C. Lee Lecture on security issues in Northeast Asia.
She was asked how the US position or relationship with Taiwan affects US talks with North Korea, particularly how Washington negotiates with Beijing and formulates its strategy to pressure Pyongyang to terminate its nuclear weapons program.
In her comments, Rice repeated that the US' "one China" policy, the three joint US-China communiques and the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act remain the basis of cross-strait policy.
While the communiques "acknowledge" China's position that Taiwan is part of China, the act commits the US to provide Taiwan with arms to defend itself, and pledges the US to maintain the capability to defend Taiwan against a Chinese military attack.
"I say to the Chinese all the time," Rice told her audience, "Those are a package. They cannot be separated out."
That means, she added, "we expect neither side, Taiwan or China, to engage in activities that would try to destabilize the status quo, unilaterally to change the status quo."
Taiwan's deputy representative to the US welcomed Rice's remarks later the same day.
John Deng (鄧振中) said that Rice's open description of the US' one China policy and its obligation by law to help Taiwan defend itself in the event of attack as an inseperable "package" had profound meaning.
Deng said Taiwan was appreciative of Rice's remarks and hoped that Beijing "faces the goodwill of the United States and begins to engage in dialogue with Taiwan's popularly-elected leaders."
Deng added that Rice's remarks contained three important points -- that the US attaches great importance to cross-strait stability and adheres to its obligation to help Taiwan defend itself; that it encourages Beijing to engage in dialogue with Taiwan's leadership to reduce elements of uncertainty; and that a more stable cross-strait situation is conducive to securing regional stability.
In her comments, Rice also called for China and Taiwan to engage in talks to reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait as part of an overall effort to maintain security in a region threatened by North Korea's recent nuclear weapon test and Pyongyang's move to develop nuclear weapons.
But she appeared to reject a direct role for Taiwan in the six-party talks on the North Korean crisis.
Answering a question after a speech in Washington on her trip to Asia last week to push for sanctions against North Korea, Rice pointed to China's membership in the UN Security Council, where it is one of five permanent members, as distinguishing its role from Taiwan's in dealing with the North Korean issue.
In the context of Northeast Asian security, Rice said, "it would obviously be a very good thing if the Chinese and Taiwan could engage in discussions about cross-strait issues ... to lower the tension and to keep any unforeseen or unwanted incidents from happening."
"It is a part of the picture of a broader, more secure Northeast Asia," she said.
However, she added, "it is separate in that sense from the North Korean issue, where we deal with China as a permanent member of the Security Council and with certain powers and responsibilities, then, to act on behalf of the UN Security Council resolutions."