Taiwan: Bill in U.S. seeks new Taiwan ties
A bipartisan resolution has been introduced in the House of
Representatives demanding resumption of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a move
certain to upset China and embarrass the Bush administration.
In presenting the bill, Tom Tancredo, a Republican representative from Colorado, said Wednesday that the United States should scrap its policy recognizing the position that Taiwan is part of one China.
Washington switched recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. But U.S. law requires the government to offer the island a means of self-defense if it is threatened.
About four months after Washington cut off ties with Taiwan in 1979, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which established the United States as an important ally for Taiwan.
China quickly and angrily condemned the proposed resolution and demanded that the Bush administration block it. "This is a gross interference in China's internal affairs and sends a mistaken signal to Taiwan independence forces," said a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Kong Quan.
"The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and staunch opposition to this," the spokesman continued. "We demand that the U.S. side be fully aware of the severe danger of this motion, seriously honor its commitments to the one-China policy and take concrete actions to prevent the resolution in the U.S. Congress from passing."
China has threatened to use military force if Taiwan ever formally declares independence and has loudly urged the United States to prevent the island from splitting further from the mainland.
Kong also called on Congress to "do more things that are beneficial to Sino-U.S. ties and the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."
Tancredo, who was joined by four other legislators in sponsoring the resolution, said Carter had recognized mainland China "without consulting or seeking the approval of Congress."
"Our current one-China policy is a fiction," Tancredo said. "Taiwan is a free, sovereign and independent country that elects its own leaders. It is not, nor has it ever been, a local government of Communist China, and everyone knows that."
He said the time had come "to scrap this intellectually dishonest and antiquated policy in favor of a little consistency and honesty."
"There is absolutely no good reason that the United States cannot maintain the same kind of normal relationship with the democratically elected government in Taiwan that it maintains with the autocratic regime in Beijing," Tancredo said.
Taiwan and China have been separately governed since splitting in 1949 after a civil war. Beijing says the island is part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Of late, China has been increasingly worried that Taiwan, under the leadership of President Chen Shui-bian, is inching toward a formal breakaway.
John Tkacik, a China expert at the Heritage Foundation and author of a book, "Rethinking One China," said that he did not expect the resolution to get very far but that it could stimulate "an important debate that the Bush administration desperately hopes to avoid and is certain to upset China."
He said the resolution could be a reaction to Beijing's proposed anti-secession law, legislation that analysts say could make it illegal for Taiwan to declare independence and might create a basis in Chinese law for China to take the island by force.