The US' stance on cross-strait relations has not changed, the foreign ministry reiterated yesterday following recent reports on remarks that outgoing US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made during a television interview.
According to a transcript of a Public Broadcasting Service interview, Armitage said that the US was not bound by the Taiwan Relations Act to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. He also responded to an interview question that asked him where the "landmines" in China's rise were by indicating that Taiwan was "probably the biggest."
The interview had actually aired on Dec 10, but local media did not pick up on it until Tuesday, when the Central News Agency filed a story on Armitage's remarks.
Dismissing speculation that the remarks indicated strained ties with the US, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) said yesterday that Armitage had simply pointed out the basic idea underlying the Taiwan Relations Act.
After confirming it with the US, the ministry had been assured that the remarks did not indicate any shift in the US stance on ties with Taiwan, he said.
Chen further responded to Armitage's remarks that a decision on whether the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack was a "question that actually reside[d] with the US Congress, who has to declare an act of war."
"This policy is not new ? Even when the president initiates the introduction of troops first, the decision must clear congress within 90 days," Chen said.
Calling Taiwan a "landmine" in China's rise was not wording that Armitage had initiated, Chen added, pointing out that the remark had been in response to a question.
Asked whether Armitage's remarks could be interpreted as an indication that the legislature should pass the arms procurement budget in a timely manner, Chen said that he did not know, but added that the US had assured the ministry there was no change in its stance.