Former United States National Security advisor Anthony Lake
arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday, 4 March 1998, for a 5-day visit,
during which he met with Taiwan political leaders.
On 5 March he gave a speech in Taipei, in which he emphasized that
-- while the United States would welcome talks between Taiwan and
China -- it was not trying to push Taiwan to the bargaining table.
He also told the group of 300 Taiwan politicians and scholars that
improvement in relations between the United States and Beijing "...will
never be at the expense of Taiwan. Never. Period".
Mr. Lake added Washington would not mediate or even exert pressure
to start talks, as this risked raising suspicions of "western
meddling'' and did not ensure the best outcome. "An agreement
reached by the People's Republic of China and Taiwan themselves,
freely and on the basis of their own calculations of their own
interests, is far more likely to endure than one that results from
outside pressure,'' he said.
Lake said there was no subtle campaign by Washington to use former
administration officials to pressure Taiwan into talks with Beijing.
There have been several visits to the region recently by former
high-ranking Washington officials. "A lot of speculation about
track-two diplomacy is unwarranted," he said.
Lake said Washington's bottom line was that any deal be achieved
peacefully, though it always felt that democracy offered the best
solution anywhere on earth.
Lake praised Taiwan's vibrant democracy for undermining those who
felt "Asian values'' were inconsistent with democracy and said
it offered lessons for Asian neighbours where, he argued, a lack of
democracy had led to financial chaos. "Democracy, with its
emphasis on transparency and rule of law, is the enemy of crony
capitalism,'' he said.
Lake, who served as President Bill Clinton's national security
advisor between 1993 and January 1997, was instrumental in mediating
when in 1995 and 1996 Beijing launched six rounds of war games and
missiles firings against Taiwan in the run-up to the nation's first
In response, Washington sent the biggest naval force the region
had seen since the Vietnam war. "Our response, both public and
private, was clear: Use of force against Taiwan, we said, would have
grave consequences,'' Lake said. "The dispatch of the two
aircraft carrier groups to the area underlined our point.''
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