The US’ enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in 1979 made then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) “very cocky,” then-Chinese vice premier Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) told Washington at the time, according to declassified US government documents.
Then-US president Jimmy Carter on Dec. 15, 1978, announced that the US would be changing diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China (ROC) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as of Jan. 1, 1979.
The announcement caused anger and triggered protests by Taiwanese at home and abroad.
The US Congress later proposed the TRA, which Carter signed into law on April 10, 1979, to provide legal basis for unofficial relations between Taiwan and the US, and for Washington’s commitment to helping Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability.
However, the act angered Beijing, the files declassified by the US Department of State show.
Deng complained about the TRA to then-US vice president Walter Mondale at a meeting in Beijing in 1979, they show.
“I only want to tell you that in your various dealings with them [the ROC] that it has tended to make Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) very cocky. It has caused his tail to raise very high,” the files quote Deng as saying to Mondale.
“I will report that to the president, and we will try to make him less cocky,” Mondale said, referring to Chiang, the documents show.
The TRA specifies US policy on the Taiwan issue, which is to preserve and promote extensive, close and friendly commercial, cultural and other relations between Americans and Taiwanese, and to declare that peace and stability in the region are in the US’ political, security and economic interests.
Any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, will be regarded as a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the US, according to the act.
It also states that the US is committed to providing Taiwan with arms of a defensive nature and to maintaining the capacity of the US to resist any resort to force that would jeopardize the security of the people in Taiwan.
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