Beijing promises to ‘never waver’ on independence

By William Lowther  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 3

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎) has warned the US that despite improved cross-strait relations, Beijing will never accept Taiwan’s independence.

“I want to stress that no matter how the situation across the Taiwan Strait may evolve, we will never waver in our commitment to the ‘one China’ principle,” he said.

Speaking at a closed-door luncheon at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) immediately before he went to the White House to meet US President Barack Obama, Yang said: “We will never compromise our opposition to Taiwan independence, two Chinas, or one-China, one-Taiwan.”

Sources later said that he repeated his statement during private talks at the White House and that he said almost exactly the same thing earlier in the week to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But in its official reaction to Yang’s four-day visit, Washington omitted all mention of Taiwan.

Yang told CSIS: “We hope that the US side will honor its commitments prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues and take concrete actions to support the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.”

“China will continue efforts to bring about new progress in the peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” he said.

The conservative think tank later released a video of the speech.

The Obama administration and the administration of former US president George W. Bush before it have gone out of its way to praise and promote improved relations between Taipei and Beijing under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

But analysts have continually warned that major policies have not changed and that China remains ready to take over Taiwan, by force if necessary.

Yang did not refer to Taiwan in any of his public statements in Washington but said that the primary point of his visit was to prepare for a meeting between Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) that will take place early next month in London on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

The two leaders are certain to discuss Taiwan at that time and Hu is expected to urge Obama to end arms sales to Taipei.

Following the Oval Office meeting the White House issued a statement saying that the president and foreign minister had discussed “the overall state of the US-China bilateral relationship, emphasizing the desire of both sides to strengthen cooperation and build a positive and constructive US-China relationship.”

Yang said that relations with the US were “at a new starting point and have important opportunities to develop.”

But speaking from Beijing, Hu said that China did not want to be seen as bowing to others.

He said that China would “vigorously advance modernization of national defense and the military” and would “staunchly defend national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and provide a powerful support and assurance for protecting national development interests and broad social stability.”

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