US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on Thursday reaffirmed Washington’s adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) during a meeting with Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Wang Yi (王毅).
Wang, who is in the US on a regular visit, also met senior White House officials, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, members of Congress and academics, including former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Bush and Kenneth Lieberthal from the Brookings Institution, and Alan Romberg of the Stimson Center.
During his meeting with Burns, Wang said he hoped the US would continue to play an active role in the process of relations across the Taiwan Strait, adding that “positive developments” in the strait could help Sino-US relations develop along the lines of mutual trust rather than friction.
China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency made no mention of Burns’ reaffirming Washington’s adherence to the TRA in its coverage of his talks with Wang.
Taiwan remains the most sensitive and important issue between the US and China, Wang said, reaffirming Beijing’s opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan.
Turning to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inaugural address on May 20, Wang said he hoped Ma would emphasize the need to ensure the current momentum on relations between Taipei and Beijing.
Although China looks forward to entering political dialogue with Taiwan, Wang said cross-strait negotiations would for the time being continue to focus on economics.
The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) itself requires a lot of negotiation, while talks on financial, industrial and investment cooperation have entered “a relatively difficult stage,” he said.
Wang and US officials did not discuss the recent proposal by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) of a “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” framework. However, asked to comment on the subject during a meeting with academics on Wednesday, he said the formula was an important step toward achieving “positive progress” in cross-strait relations and set the tone for party-to-party exchanges.
As the “one country, two areas” proposal remains controversial among Taiwanese, some US academics opined that China was also being placed in an awkward position.
While Beijing likes the Ma government’s take on the “one country” concept, it, however, does not wish to publicly embrace Ma’s point that the “one country” refers to the Republic of China, US academics said.
Meanwhile, sources confirmed the US was not informed beforehand of Wu’s “one country, two areas” proposal.
From how things have proceeded from Ma’s proposal of cross-strait peace accords late last year to the recently touted “one country, two areas” concept, there appears to be a need for Taiwan to enhance its communications with the US, sources said.
Additional reporting by Nadia Tsao