Congressman Cox urges self-determination for the people of Taiwan

Washington, 2 July 1998.

On 2 July 1998, U.S. Congressman Christopher Cox (R-CA) sent a strongly-worded letter to President Clinton, criticizing him for mistakingly stating in Shanghai that it was U.S., policy to pursue peaceful reunification between Taiwan and China.

Congressman Cox told president Clinton that the concept of reunification does not appear in any U.S. policy document, and that the U.S. should not foreordain Taiwan's destiny, but should instead, support the right of self-determination for the people of Taiwan.

The text of the letter

July 2, 1998

Mr. President:

Despite the settled policy of the Shanghai Communiqué and the Taiwan Relations Act, the PRC has long urged the United States to issue a new joint statement on Taiwan. One June 30, 1998, in Shanghai, you stated: "Our policy has been that we think reunification has to be done peacefully, that is what our law says and we have to encourage the cross-strait dialogue. And I think it will bear fruit if everyone is patient and works hard."

Section 2(b)(3) of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act reads: "...the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means." Both this law and our longstanding policy have left the question of just what Taiwan's future is -- reunification with the mainland, independence, or something else -- to cross-strait negotiations. The concept of reunification does not appear in any of the three communiques which are the framework for U.S. -- China relations.

While I am pleased that you rejected the opportunity to issue a new joint statement that would recodify any aspect of U.S. policy towards Taiwan, your remark about Taiwan's future have left the distinct impression that the P.R.C. and the U.S. have foreordained Taiwan's destiny without regard to the outcome of peaceful dialogue, and without regard for Taiwan's right to self-determination.

American policy must continue to uphold, unequivocally, the right of the people of Taiwan to determine their own future.

I hope you will soon find an opportunity that is just as public as were your remarks in Shanghai to clarify this point, and to reaffirm the unwavering U.S. support for the right of self-determination for the people of Taiwan. To do otherwise would risk P.R.C. misunderstanding of American resolve, encouraging unnecessary military conflict.


Christopher Cox

U.S. Representative

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