US reassures Taiwan

House hearing on U.S.-Taiwan relations

Washington, 20 May 1998. At a hearing before the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Asian-Pacific Affairs, Clinton Administration officials reiterated on Wednesday that the United States attaches great importance to its commitment to preserving Taiwan's security.

Testimony was also given by former U.S. Ambassadors Jim Lilley and Nat Bellocchi, and by former U.S. Administration official Douglas Paal.

Both Susan Shirk, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant secretary of defense, stressed at a congressional hearing that the US won't engage mainland China at the expense of Taiwan.

They also reaffirmed that no agreements unfavorable or harmful to Taiwan will be signed during a summit meeting between US President Bill Clinton and his mainland Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, scheduled for late June in Beijing.

Shirk told the Asia-Pacific subcommittee of the House Committee on International Relations that the US has consistently insisted that issues or disputes between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait be resolved strictly by peaceful means.

She further said the US will continue fulfilling its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) concerning Taiwan's security and sales of defensive arms to the island. The TRA, the 1979 US law regulating Washington-Taiwan relations in the absence of official ties, requires the US to furnish Taiwan with adequate defensive arms to safeguard its security.

Shirk said she is convinced that the US has created a favorable climate for cross-strait rapprochement and reconcilation by continously implementing the above-mentioned policies. While reinforcing engagements with both Taipei and Beijing, Shirk said, the US will continue encouraging them to embark on regular dialogue. By so doing, she added, the three parties and the entire Asia-Pacific region will benefit.

Shirk went on to say that the US has decided to increase engagements with Beijing in hopes that mainland China will remain stable, abide by international norms and cooperate with the US in establishing a regional security mechanism and international order. In the process, Shirk said, the US will never sacrifice Taiwan's interests. "There will not be a fourth joint communique. Our relations with Taiwan will not be tampered or sacrificed at all."

Speaking on the same occasion, Campbell said it is important for the US to reassure Taiwan that Washington will not improve ties with Beijing at the expense of Taipei. He said the US must admit that its previous efforts to develop ties with Beijing once hurt Taiwan.

Campbell also stressed the importance that the US has attached to its security commitment to Taiwan. According to Campbell, Pentagon has never viewed the obligations set in the Taiwan Relations Act as a disgusting burden. Instead, he said, Pentagon thinks that the obligations to furnish Taiwan with sufficient defensive arms are an integral part of the US Asia-Pacific policy.

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