US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said that while US President Donald Trump’s administration is committed to its “one China” policy, it also intends to fulfill its commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).
He said that as the Trump administration began dialogue with China’s leadership, there was initially some questioning of the US’ commitment to “one China,” but Tillerson said that “the president has reaffirmed that we are committed to the ‘one China’ policy.”
“We are also completely committed to the Taiwan Relations Act and fulfilling all of our commitments to them under that act,” he said.
The TRA is a US law promulgated in 1979 under which the US is committed to providing defensive weapons to Taiwan.
He made the remarks at a US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing when US Representative Steve Chabot spoke on China’s campaign to pressure nations around the world to stop their recognition of Taiwan, citing the latest example of Panama, and asked Tillerson to be clear to China that “if push comes to shove, the United States will stand with Taiwan.”
Tillerson said that “the China-US relationship has been defined for the past 50 years by our ‘one China’ policy and our agreement around the ‘one China’ policy.”
Despite different interpretations of the policy, “it has led to 50 years of stability in the region. It has prevented conflict,” he said.
It has also allowed for enormous economic growth, much of which the US has benefited from, he said.
Tillerson said that the US is also in discussion with China about “what is our relationship going to be for the next 50 years? How do we enter another era of stability and absence of conflict? And Taiwan, clearly, to the Chinese, is a part of that discussion.”
“It is important, as we engage with them, that we are able to fulfill our commitments to Taiwan, which we have every intention of doing,” he said. “The question is, is the ‘one China’ policy sustainable for the next 50 years? And those are the kinds of discussions we’re having. They are extremely complex in many regards.”
He said that what the US seeks is “another 50 years of stability and no conflict with China in the Pacific region.”
“Taiwan is a big element of that. North Korea is a big element of that. Their [China’s] island-building and militarization of islands is a significant element of that,” he said. “All of these are in our discussion with them about how do we define this relationship for the next half century, to ensure we have a continued era of no conflict and stability.”
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