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Formosan Association for Public Affairs Press Release

Released 24 February 2000

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FAPA Press Release:
FAPA Blasts China’s White Paper and Applauds U.S. “No Consent. No Deal" Policy


    “FAPA warmly welcomes President Clinton’s statement today that the United States will ‘continue to reject the use of force as a means to resolve the Taiwan question…[and] to make absolutely clear that the issues between Beijing and Taiwan must be resolved peacefully and with the assent of the people of Taiwan,’” stated Chen Wen-yen,  FAPA President.

    “China’s 2/21 White Paper completely misrepresents U.S. policy toward Taiwan,” Chen said.  “The White Paper ignores the law of the land in the U.S. – the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and also ignores U.S. insistence on the right of the people of Taiwan to have at least a veto over any negotiated settlement regarding the future of Taiwan.  No consent, no deal is the essential U.S. position.”

    “FAPA believes that the U.S. should support a more positive, democratic determination of Taiwan’s future and strengthen the TRA by passage of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act,” Chen continued, “but we stand firmly behind our U.S. government’s current position.”

I.    China’s  white paper on the Taiwan question stands in direct contradiction to U.S. policy which has consistently backed a ‘peaceful resolution’ to the Taiwan issue and which premises the U.S. policy of engagement with China on this ‘peaceful resolution’ principle..

    “Check the Chinese document,” Chen said, “and you will look in vain for any mention of the governing law of the land in the United States, the Taiwan Relations Act.  Check the historical record and you will understand why China only wants to trumpet the Three Joint US-China Communiques.  Clearly the China does not understand the depth and subtlety of the U.S. position concerning Taiwan.”

    When President Carter decided to derecognize Taiwan in 1979, he sent Congress legislation designed to continue unofficial relations with Taiwan.  Congress found it wanting and wrote serious peace and security provisions into what became The Taiwan Relations Act.

    As the Senate TRA Conference Report states, “[T]he bill as submitted by the Administration contained no references to the interests of the United States in Taiwan’s security, and lacked any reference to the sale of defensive arms to Taiwan….The language eventually approved was designed to make clear to the PRC that its new relationship with the United States would be seriously endangered if it resorted to force in an attempt to bring about the unification of Taiwan with the mainland.”

    The Reagan Presidential Statement on Issuance of the U.S.-PRC Communiqué of August 17, 1982 states, “Regarding future U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, our policy, set forth clearly in the communiqué, is fully consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act.  Arms sales will continue in accordance with the Act and with the full expectation that the approach of the Chinese government to the resolution of the Taiwan issue will continue to be peaceful.  We attach great significance to the Chinese statement in the communiqué regarding China’s “fundamental” policy; and it is clear from our statements that our future actions will be conducted with this peaceful policy fully in mind.”

    Congress, initially angered by the August 17th Communiqué, demanded assurances.  In his August 18, 1982 statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,  John Holdridge, then Assistant Secretary of State, told Members that the Administration undertook the August discussions with China “with the firm resolve that there were principles regarding the security of Taiwan which could not be compromised - principles…embodied in the Taiwan Relations Act.”  Holdridge went on to state unequivocally that “our future actions concerning arms sales to Taiwan are premised on a continuation of China’s peaceful policy toward a resolution of its differences with Taiwan.”

    Asked by Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to explain the Clinton Administration’s “one-China policy”, the State Department replied, in early January 2000, “ The U.S. has consistently held that resolution of the Taiwan issue is a matter to be worked out by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait themselves.   Our sole and abiding concern is that the resolution be peaceful.”

    The Taiwan Relations Act is the law of the land, having been duly passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President.  It takes precedence over any and all executive agreements/communiques.

    Also, China has not kept to the “fundamental policy” stated in the 1982 Communiqué “of striving for peaceful reunification of the Motherland.”  Chinese missile firings at Taiwan in 1996 and this White Paper’s refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan are clear evidence of China’s violation of its stated policy.

II. The White Paper consistently, and wrongly, identifies China’s and the U.S. one-China policy as one and the same, stating that “the U.S. government, which for many years had supported the Taiwan authorities, had accepted that there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is part of China and the government of the PRC is the only legitimate government of China….”

    “The Chinese text continues the old trick of using the Chinese word for ‘recognize’ instead of ‘acknowledge’ for the U.S. position,” said Chen.  “U.S. officials, from Warren Christopher in 1979 on down, have stated clearly that the English text is the one the U.S. accepts – and that text uses ‘acknowledge’ for the Chinese position regarding Taiwan.”

    The first Shanghai Communique in1972 reads, “The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China.”  Subsequent communiqués state, “The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is one China and Taiwan is part of China.”

    As the Senate report on the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (U.S. Public Law 96-8) makes clear, “The Administration has stated that it recognizes the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government of China.  It has also acknowledged the Chinese position that Taiwan is a part of China, but the United States has not itself agreed with this position. The bill submitted by the Administration takes no position on the status of Taiwan under international law, but does regard Taiwan as a country for purposes of U.S. domestic law.” [Emphasis in the original. See “Taiwan Relations Act; conference report to accompany H.R. 2479.  96th Congress, 1st session.   House.  Report no. 96-71.]

    The January 2000 State Department letter to Rep. Brown states, “The PRC government and the Taiwan authorities have their own “one China” policies.  American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman and Managing Director Richard Bush was reflecting Administration policy when he said, “[h]ow specifically to define the ‘one-China’ principle and how concretely to realize it are best left to the two sides of the Strait on a mutually acceptable basis.”  We are willing to support any outcome voluntarily agreed to by both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    In September 1999, Mr. Bush stated, “The Administration believes that any arrangements concluded between Beijing and Taipei should be on a mutually acceptable basis.  And because Taiwan is a democratic system, any such arrangements must ultimately be acceptable to the Taiwan public.”

    U.S. policy regarding the “one-China” principle is not the same as that of the PRC, speaking as it does of the need for both sides of the Strait to come to voluntary agreement on how to define “one-China” and giving the people of Taiwan a say as to whether any agreement is “acceptable.”

    It also should be noted that not only does the US have no formal position on the status of Taiwan, the San Francisco Peace Treaty  of 1951 stipulated that Japan renounce “all right, title and claim to [Taiwan]” but did not specify the recipient of this “right, title and claim.”  The historical record shows that no recipient was specified to afford the opportunity to take into consideration the principle of self-determination and the expressed desire of the people of Taiwan.

    The White Paper’s claim, therefore, that “under both domestic and international laws Taiwan’s legal status as part of Chinese territory is unequivocal” is not accurate.

     “The U.S. position regarding Taiwan is quite unique,” concluded Dr. Chen.  “U.S. officials should emphasize this with greater clarity and not continue to offhandedly say ‘we have a one-china policy’ in response to questions about Taiwan.  Clearly the Chinese have misinterpreted this response as an indication that the U.S. and Chinese positions are the same.  They are not.”

    “Our greatest fear is that China will miscalculate the U.S. position like  Saddam Hussein's misinterpreted the U.S. Ambassador’s remarks just before Hussein invaded Kuwait.  FAPA thanks President Clinton for the clarity of his remarks today and asks that this clarity continue to be used by all U.S. officials.   We also thank Taiwan’s friends in Congress for their continued concern that Taiwan’s security considerations be front and center in U.S. decision making and their support for the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.  The TSEA sends a clear signal to China that the use of force against Taiwan is unacceptable and a clear signal to Taiwan that the U.S. stands behind its democratic friend.”

FAPA web siteclick here to visit the FAPA web site   


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Source: Formosan Association for Public Affairs