I haven’t seen this discussed here yet. The strongest comment by a administration official I’ve seen yet.
US warns Taiwan on independence
Official says any move from Taipei would drag America into war it does not want with China
AGENCIES in Washington and LAWRENCE CHUNG in Taipei
The US has sounded a blunt warning against Taiwan seeking independence, saying such a move would only mean war.
In a hearing before a congressional committee on Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said that if Taiwan declared independence, the United States would be drawn into a war that it did not want between Taiwan and the mainland.
During a hearing in which he highlighted the mainland’s “near-term military build-up”, Mr Zoellick said Washington had to be “very careful” in its balancing act between Taiwan and Beijing.
“The balance is that we want to be supportive of Taiwan while we’re not encouraging those that try to move toward independence,” he said. “Because, let me be very clear: independence means war. And that means American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.”
He defended the US government against complaints it had snubbed Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian by refusing his request to stop in San Francisco or New York during his Latin America visit last week, and denied mainland influence on the decision.
“We make our own decisions. We don’t clear them with China. We don’t negotiate them with China,” Mr Zoellick said.
US officials have expressed disapproval over Mr Chen’s decision to scrap a council dedicated to the eventual reunification of Taiwan and the mainland. Rejecting his transit request was seen as a snub.
Mr Zoellick also told the committee the mainland’s economic and military growth had made it a rising global influence.
He said the central government pursued its interests in a “very calculated way, with economic growth, political-military strength and interstate relations”.
“The policy of China tends to be more one of non-interference,” he said.
Mr Zoellick said Beijing should use its ties with North Korea to exert more pressure to dismantle the country’s nuclear weapons programme.
China is “a little hesitant,” Mr Zoellick said. “It doesn’t use those economic ties in the full sense because it’s worried about what a collapse in North Korea might do.”
Speaking in Taipei yesterday, Washington’s top envoy to Taiwan, Stephen Young, director of the American Institute in Taiwan which represents US interests, said the US stood by its security commitment for Taiwan.
“In fulfilling the US commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act, we currently have extensive - though unofficial - military co-operation with Taiwan,” Dr Young said. “In addition to significant arms sales, the US government works closely with Taiwan’s military establishment to support their efforts to embrace a defensive strategy that promotes stability.”
But he also stressed the US did not want to be dragged into war by Taiwan if it chose to push for independence through amending its constitution.
He advised Taiwan against seeking to undermine the cross-strait status quo, while asking Beijing to foster dialogue with the island’s elected leaders.
Regarding the president’s transit issue, he said Washington respected Mr Chen’s decision not to transit through the US, and the two sides should look forward as “we still have a lot of businesses to do with [Mr Chen] in the next two years”.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the US should stop selling arms to Taiwan.
“The US understands our view on Taiwan,” Mr Liu said at a regular briefing in Beijing. “We hope the US will put words in action by stopping arms sales to the island.”
Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg