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," she said.
Mr. Bush on Wednesday said the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan if China were to attack. 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 Taiwan to Beijing.
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.
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 also 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 may 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 it calls "rogue states" after many years of doing so.
Bush told CNN that his remarks did not constitute any change in policy and, at least at home, China seems to agree.
Communist 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 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."
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
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