Former US president Bill Clinton will maintain his support for the "one China" policy despite his upcoming meeting President Chen Shui-bian (
"The United States and I have not changed our positions [on the Taiwan question] ... I hope that China and Taiwan would not think that my position or the US's would change because of this trip," he told a Hong Kong newspaper group in an interview in Tokyo ahead of his two-day visit to Taiwan yesterday.
"I sincerely stand by the one-China policy ... I sincerely hope to see peace in the Taiwan Strait. At the same time I urge them both to solve their disputes peacefully," he was quoted as saying.
Clinton promised to also abide by the three joint communiques which form the basis of China-US relations and to oppose Taiwan independence.
Such views would be passed on to Chen during his visit on the country during which he would also laud the economic achievements there.
He said he believed the closer economic ties between them would help to ease cross-strait tensions.
Nevertheless, China was irritated by Clinton's scheduled meeting with Chen, who was viewed as a dangerous "splittist" leading Taiwan down the road toward formal independence, a move Beijing said would be regarded as an act of war.
But last week, Chen pledged not to push for the nation's formal independence after a series of peace overtures to rival China.
Clinton welcomed the softening tone in Chen's recent remarks and believed the Taiwan issue could be solved without force.
Clinton is scheduled to deliver a speech on Asia's democracy in Taipei on Sunday evening. His visit to Taiwan will be his first he left the White House in January 2001.
Clinton ordered two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near Taiwan after China lobbed ballistic missiles into shipping lanes near Taiwan's main island in 1996.