Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue called Bush's remarks
"erroneous" and said he had "drifted further down a dangerous road" with his
remarks, which some see as a major shift in U.S. policy toward Taiwan.
"Taiwan is a part of China, not a protectorate of any foreign country,"
Bush on Wednesday said the United States would do "whatever it takes" to
defend Taiwan if China attacked. The statement goes much further than
the strategic ambiguity that has characterized the balance Washington has
maintained since 1979, when diplomatic ties were switched from Taipei to
Bush made the statements in interviews with CNN and on ABC's "Good Morning
America" at the close of his first 100 days in office.
White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Bush's
comments reflected the administration's commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act,
which calls on the United States to provide arms to Taiwan.
"The Taiwan Relations Act makes very clear that the United States has an
obligation that Taiwan's peaceful way of life is not upset by force," Rice
told reporters traveling with the president in Arkansas on Wednesday.
he said clearly is how seriously and resolutely he takes this
obligation. A secure Taiwan will be better able to engage in cross-strait
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said China's military buildup in the Taiwan Straits in recent years
was the reason why the president felt it was time to make a strong statement
about U.S. support for Taiwan.
Zhang steered many questions away from Bush's remarks and toward China's
opposition to a large arms package that Washington agreed to sell to Taiwan
earlier this week.
Zhang echoed remarks made on Wednesday by Vice Foreign Minister Li
Zhaoxing, who told U.S. Ambassador Joseph Prueher the arms sale "will also
seriously impact bilateral cooperation in the nonproliferation field."
Analysts are viewing the comment as thinly veiled threat that China might stop cooperating with U.S. efforts to halt the export of missile and nuclear
technology to Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Libya. Earlier this year U.S.
officials said that China had stopped its proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction to what rogue states after many years of doing so.
Bush told CNN that his remarks did not constitute any change in policy. At least at home, China seems to agree.
China's state-run media made no mention Thursday of Bush's remarks over
Taiwan and instead focused on the arms deal and its insistence that the U.S.
hold to its prized "one-China policy," which states that there is only one
China and that the republic of Taiwan is a part of it. Bush did eventually soften his
remarks and mentioned that he still adhered to the policy and did not
support Taiwan's independence.
However, Zhang did maintain the Chinese position that the arms sale
coupled with Bush's remarks "undermined peace and stability across the
Taiwan Strait and will create further damage to Sino-U.S. relations."
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