Sun, Mar 16, 2003 - Page 3 News List

US says it won't sacrifice Taiwan for support from China


The George W. Bush administration has reiterated that it will not sacrifice arms sales to Taiwan in exchange for China's support for a US war against Iraq.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Washington Friday that the administration will not change its Taiwan policy in a bid to gain Beijing's support for a UN resolution supporting Bush's plan to attack Iraq in an effort to outs Saddam Hussein.

Rice made her comments to reporters gathered outside the offices of an Arab television station after she gave an interview to the station.

Asked if Bush is "prepared to soften on its arms sales to Taiwan" in exchange for Beijing's cooperation, Rice said no.

"Our policy on Taiwan is very, very clear," she said. "We have a `one China' policy. We believe that there should be no unilateral change of the status quo."

Bush, she said, "operates under the Taiwan Relations Act."

Rice's comments marked the second time in a month that senior Bush administration officials have asserted Washington's continued adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act, which commits the US to supplying Taiwan with the weapons it needs to fend off the military threat from China.

On Feb. 19, Secretary of State Colin Powell made the same point in an interview with a Hong Kong-based TV station, Phoenix TV, just prior to his visit to China, South Korea and Japan over North Korea's nuclear weapons threat.

Asked whether he expected China to ask for concessions in exchange for its help with the Pyongyang regime, Powell said, "I would not expect we would talk in those terms.

"I reassure my Chinese colleagues at every opportunity that the United States remains committed to our `one China' policy, the three communiques and we also have our responsibilities under the ... Taiwan Relations Act," Powell said.

"We will always keep those elements in mind as we sell weapons to Taiwan," he said, stressing that such sales are for defense and not intended as a threat to China.

Questions about US commitments to Taiwan have increased in frequency as the drive toward war with Iraq has accelerated in recent months.

Supporters of Taiwan are concerned that Bush might have to make some sort of concessions to China, as many key members of the UN Security Council balk at the goals and strategy of US policy on Iraq.

However, during a defense industry conference in San Antonio, Texas last month, sponsored by the US-Taiwan Business Council, senior Pentagon and State Department officials stressed the US commitment to supplying Taiwan with adequate weaponry, although they pointed to the need for Taiwan to develop its own missile defense and other indigenous military capabilities.

They also chastised Taipei for not moving forward on the purchase of weapons systems that the US has already agreed to sell to Taiwan, reflecting a frustration that has been growing in the Pentagon for many months.

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