United States Aims To Preserve Peace, Stability in Taiwan Strait

By Peggy B. Hu
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The United States has "an abiding interest" in the preservation of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, according to Clifford A. Hart Jr., director of the State Department's Office of Taiwan Coordination.

In remarks at the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council Defense Industry Conference in Denver September 12, Hart said U.S. policy toward Taiwan is based on the principle that war between China and Taiwan remains possible, if unlikely.

"China refuses to renounce the use of force against Taiwan, even as any such use of force would be a disaster for people on both sides of the Strait, the region, and America itself," he said.

The United States urges China "to demonstrate more military transparency, to cease its arms buildup opposite Taiwan, and to reduce its armed threat to Taiwan," Hart said.

"At the same time," he continued, "we assign special importance to [Taiwan] President Chen's June 8, 2006, public reaffirmation of his commitments that Taiwan will not declare independence, change the national name, push for sovereignty themes in the constitution, or promote a referendum to change the status quo." (See related article.)

"[T]he United States does not support Taiwan independence and opposes unilateral changes to the status quo by either side," Hart said.  "We urge all parties to avoid confrontational or provocative acts, and we believe the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully."

The State Department official expressed concern about China's military buildup, which he said is targeted against Taiwan.

Citing an annual report produced by the U.S. Department of Defense, Hart said the buildup "risks disrupting the status quo" as China's military expansion creates "a capabilities gap." (See related article.)

In response to China's actions, he continued, the United States "has substantially boosted its defense cooperation with Taipei and taken steps to maintain its own capabilities should the President choose to respond militarily to any use of force or coercion against Taiwan."

Under the Taiwan Relations Act, passed in 1979, the United States provides Taiwan defensive capabilities.  The act, along with three joint communiqués issued between 1972 and 1982 that recognize the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China and state Taiwan is part of China, govern U.S.-China relations. (See Taiwan Relations Act and Joint Communiqués.)

Although the United States remains committed to helping Taiwan defend itself, Taiwan also must do its part, Hart said.

The State Department official urged Taiwan's leaders to "engage in a serious deliberation on security and exercise wisdom and political courage in agreeing to fund urgently needed increases in Taiwan's self-defense capabilities."

Ultimately, Hart remained positive regarding the resolution of the situation in the Taiwan Strait.

"[B]y embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society.  In so doing, it has set a hopeful example for the region and the world," Hart said.  "Given these advantages, and my country's rock solid support for Taiwan's security, I am optimistic about the preservation of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait over the long term."

For more information on U.S. policy, see Taiwan.

The full text of Hart's remarks is available on the State Department Web site.