Leading members of Congress have written to US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to stress the importance of the “six assurances” that former US president Ronald Reagan gave to Taiwan.
The letter is the result of considerable discomfort felt by members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus after Panetta revealed recently that China had been informed in advance of a public announcement of new arms sales to Taipei.
There is widespread fear on Capitol Hill that informing Beijing before a public announcement could eventually lead to consultation about the actual weapons being sold.
The members of Congress say that the six assurances should be looked upon as a second cornerstone — after the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) — of US policy toward Taiwan.
Their letter says: “We noted that, during your recent trip to Asia, you commented on China’s reaction to the September 2011 US arms sales to Taiwan.”
“While expressing appreciation for Beijing’s ‘professional and diplomatic’ reaction, you stated that the [US President Barack] Obama Administration had ‘given the Chinese a heads up as to what was going to take place,’” the letter says. “While notifying the Chinese of -decisions regarding US arms sales to Taiwan does not explicitly violate the six assurances, we hope that such notification has not and will not lead to any consultations with the Chinese government prior to a decision to sell arms to Taiwan.”
The letter was signed by Democrats Shelley Berkley and Gerald Connolly, and Republicans Phil Gingrey and Mario Diaz-Balart.
All four are co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus.
The six assurances, made by Reagan to then-Taiwan president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) in July 1982, are: The US will not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan; the US will not hold prior consultations with China on arms sales to Taiwan; the US will not play any mediation role between Taipei and Beijing; the US will not revise the TRA; the US will not change its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan; and the US will not exert pressure on Taiwan to negotiate with China.
“Along with the TRA, these six assurances form the basis of the overall policy approach that the US has taken toward Taiwan over 30 years. It is a policy that has successfully maintained peace in the Taiwan Strait, while providing for Taiwan’s economic prosperity and political transformation, both of which are to the enormous benefit of the US,” the letter says.
Coen Blaauw, an official with the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, said: “This was a good opportunity to remind Secretary Panetta about the six assurances. They really are the second cornerstone of US relations with Taiwan and of critical importance.”
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