China/Taiwan: Evolution of the "One China" Policy-Key Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Despite apparently consistent statements in over three decades, the “one China” policy
concerning Taiwan remains somewhat ambiguous and subject to different interpretations. Apart
from questions about what the “one China” policy entails, issues have arisen about whether U.S.
presidents have stated clear positions and have changed or should change policy, affecting U.S.
interests in security and democracy. In Part I, this CRS Report discusses the “one China” policy
since the United States began in 1971 to reach presidential understandings with the PRC
government. Part II documents the evolution of policy as affected by legislation and articulated in
key statements by Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. This report will be updated.
Policy on the “one China” concept covers three major issue areas: sovereignty over Taiwan; PRC
use of force or coercion against Taiwan; and cross-strait dialogue. The United States recognized
the Republic of China (ROC) government in Taipei until the end of 1978 and has maintained a
relationship with Taiwan since recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government
in Beijing in 1979. The United States did not explicitly state the sovereign status of Taiwan in the
three U.S.-PRC Joint Communiques of 1972, 1979, and 1982. The United States “acknowledged”
the “one China” position of both sides of the Taiwan Strait. U.S. policy has not recognized the
PRC’s sovereignty over Taiwan; has not recognized Taiwan as a sovereign country; and has
considered Taiwan’s status as undetermined.
The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979, P.L. 96-8, has governed the U.S. relationship with
Taiwan, in the absence of formal diplomatic recognition. The TRA stipulates the U.S. expectation
that the future of Taiwan “will be determined” by peaceful means. The TRA specifies that it is
U.S. policy, among the stipulations: to consider any non-peaceful means to determine Taiwan’s
future “a threat” to the peace and security of the Western Pacific and of “grave concern” to the
United States; “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character;” and “to maintain the
capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion” jeopardizing
the security, or social or economic system of Taiwan’s people. The TRA provides a congressional
role in determining security assistance “necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-
defense capability.” In addition, just before issuing the August 17, 1982 Communique, President
Reagan offered “Six Assurances” to Taipei, including questions about any U.S. role in cross-strait
Since the mid-1990s, U.S. security interests have been challenged increasingly by the PRC’s
military modernization and moves in Taiwan perceived by Beijing as promoting de jure
independence. President Clinton deployed two aircraft carriers near Taiwan during the 1995-1996
crisis. President Bush does not support Taiwan’s independence or membership in the U.N. and
opposes unilateral changes to the “status quo” (including a referendum on U.N. membership for
Taiwan during its presidential election on March 22, 2008). Congress has oversight of the TRA
and U.S. management of the Taiwan Strait situation. Members of Congress have supported
continued arms sales to Taiwan, expanded contacts with Taiwan’s senior officials, and Taiwan’s
participation in international organizations.
Part I: U.S. Policy on “One China”.................................................................................................1
Key Statements and Ambiguity.................................................................................................4
Defini ti ons .................................................................................................................... ...... 5
Has U.S. Policy Changed?........................................................................................................6
Issue Area 1: Sovereignty...................................................................................................6
Issue Area 2: Use of Force................................................................................................17
Issue Area 3: Dialogue......................................................................................................23
Summary: Policy Issues..........................................................................................................26
Part II: Highlights of Key Statements by Washington, Beijing, and Taipei..................................27
Statements During Nixon Administration...............................................................................28
Kissinger’s Secret Talks with PRC Premier Zhou Enlai...................................................28
Nixon’s “Five Principles” in Secret Talks with Zhou Enlai..............................................28
Nixon on Withdrawing U.S. Military Forces from Taiwan...............................................29
U.S.-PRC Joint Communique (Shanghai Communique)..................................................29
Mao on Use of Force.........................................................................................................30
Statements During Ford Administration..................................................................................30
President Ford’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress..................................................30
Statements During Carter Administration...............................................................................31
U.S. Statement on Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and the
People’s Republic of China............................................................................................31
PRC Statement on Establishing China-U.S. Diplomatic Relations..................................31
ROC President Chiang Ching-kuo’s Statement................................................................32
PRC’s New Year’s Message to Compatriots in Taiwan....................................................32
U.S.-PRC Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations
Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8............................................................................33
Statements During Reagan Administration.............................................................................35
PRC Leader Ye Jianying’s Nine-Point Proposal...............................................................35
Letter from President Reagan to Deng Xiaoping..............................................................36
Reagan’s “Six Assurances” to Taiwan..............................................................................37
Message from President Reagan to Taiwan President......................................................37
U.S.-PRC Joint Communique on Arms Sales (1982 Communique).................................38
President Reagan’s Statement on U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan..........................................39
Reagan’s Secret Memorandum on the 1982 Communique...............................................39
PRC’s Statement on the Communique..............................................................................40
Assistant Secretary of State Holdridge and “Six Assurances”..........................................40
PRC Leader Deng Xiaoping on “One China, Two Systems”...........................................41
Statements During George H. W. Bush Administration..........................................................41
Toast at the Welcoming Banquet in Beijing......................................................................41
Taiwan’s National Unification Guidelines; Recognition of PRC......................................42
Taiwan on the Meaning of “One China”...........................................................................42
President Bush on the Sale of F-16s to Taiwan.................................................................42
“One China, Different Interpretations” of 1992................................................................43
Statements During Clinton Administration.............................................................................44
PRC Premier Li Peng Warns Taiwan................................................................................44
Mainland-Taiwan “Koo-Wang” Talks (Singapore)...........................................................44
ROC (Taiwan)’s Bid to Gain Parallel Representation at the U.N.....................................45
PRC’s White Paper on Taiwan..........................................................................................45
Taiwan’s White Paper on Cross-Strait Relations..............................................................46
Washington’s 1994 Taiwan Policy Review.......................................................................47
PRC President Jiang Zemin’s “Eight Points”...................................................................48
Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui’s “Six Point” Response..................................................49
U.S. Visa For Lee Teng-hui’s Private Visit to Cornell University....................................50
Clinton’s Secret Letter to Jiang Zemin and “Three Noes”................................................50
U.S. State Department and March 1996 Taiwan Strait Tensions......................................51
President Clinton’s Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister.............................................51
Secretary of State Christopher on Relations with China...................................................52
Taiwan’s First Direct Presidential Election and Inaugural Address..................................53
Taiwan’s Multi-Party National Development Conference................................................53
President Clinton’s Statements at the 1997 Summit.........................................................54
1997 Clinton-Jiang Summit and U.S.-China Joint Statement...........................................54
1997 Summit and the State Department on the “Three Noes”..........................................55
1998 Clinton-Jiang Summit in Beijing.............................................................................55
1998 Summit and Clinton’s Statement on the “Three Noes”............................................56
Taiwan’s Lee Teng-hui on “One Divided China”.............................................................56
Second “Koo-Wang Talks” (Shanghai).............................................................................57
U.S. Assistant Secretary Stan Roth on “Interim Agreements”..........................................57
Taiwan’s Lee Teng-hui on “Special State-to-State” Relations..........................................58
President Clinton on the “Three Pillars” of Policy Toward Taiwan..................................58
Taiwan’s Position Paper on “Special State-to-State Relationship”...................................59
Presidents Clinton and Jiang at APEC Meeting................................................................59
PRC’s Second Taiwan White Paper and “Three Ifs”........................................................60
President Clinton on Resolution with Assent of Taiwan’s People....................................61
Taiwan President Chen’s Inauguration Speech and “Five Noes”.....................................61
PRC Vice Premier Qian Qichen’s New Formulation........................................................62
Taiwan President Chen on “Integration”..........................................................................62
Statements During George W. Bush Administration...............................................................63
President Bush on “Whatever It Takes”............................................................................63
PRC Vice Premier Qian Qichen’s Invitation to the DPP..................................................63
Bush-Jiang Press Conference in Beijing...........................................................................64
Taiwan President Chen on “One Country on Each Side”.................................................64
Bush-Jiang Summit in Crawford, Texas...........................................................................65
Bush’s Meeting with PRC President Hu Jintao in France.................................................66
President Chen Shui-bian on a New Constitution.............................................................66
Bush’s Meeting with Hu Jintao in Thailand......................................................................67
Chen Shui-bian’s Speech in New York.............................................................................67
U.S. “Opposition” to Change in Taiwan’s Status..............................................................68
President Bush’s Meeting with PRC Premier Wen Jiabao................................................68
State Department’s Testimony After Chen’s Re-election..................................................69
Chen Shui-bian’s Second Inaugural Address....................................................................70
Colin Powell on Taiwan’s Lack of Sovereignty................................................................71
Richard Armitage on the TRA and Taiwan’s Status..........................................................71
U.S.-Japan “2+2 Statement”.............................................................................................71
PRC’s Hu Jintao on “Four-Point Guideline”....................................................................71
PRC’s “Anti-Secession Law” of 2005..............................................................................72
Bush on U.S. Response to Provocations...........................................................................72
Chen Terminates the National Unification Guidelines.....................................................72
Bush-Hu Summit and “Peace and Stability”.....................................................................73
State Department on a “Second Republic” in Taiwan.......................................................73
State Department on “Name Rectification” in Taiwan.....................................................73
U.S. Opposition to Taiwan’s Referendum on Joining U.N...............................................74
U.S. Non-support for “Taiwan’s” Membership in the U.N...............................................74
Table 1. Cabinet-Level Visits to Taiwan After 1979.......................................................................1
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................75
Paying particular attention to congressional influence on policy, this CRS Report discusses the
U.S. “one China” policy concerning Taiwan since the United States (under the Nixon
Administration) began in 1971 to reach understandings with the People’s Republic of China
(PRC) government, which has insisted on its “one China” principle. Based on open sources and
interviews, this report also reviews comprehensively the evolution of the “one China” issue, as it
has been articulated in key statements by Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. (On U.S. arms sales to
and defense relations with Taiwan, see CRS Report RL30957, Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales
Since 1990, by Shirley A. Kan. On general legislation, see CRS Report RL33510, Taiwan: th
Overall Developments and Policy Issues in the 109 Congress, by Kerry Dumbaugh.)
In the 1990s, Congress pushed for changes in policy toward Taiwan. Questions about the “one
China” policy arose again after Lee Teng-hui, then-President of Taiwan (formally called the
Republic of China (ROC)), characterized cross-strait relations as “special state-to-state ties” on
July 9, 1999. Beijing responded vehemently with calls for Lee to retract the perceived deviation
from the “one China” position and reiterated longstanding threats to use force if necessary to
prevent a declaration of independence by Taiwan. The PRC also questioned U.S. commitment to
“one China” and expressed opposition to any U.S. military intervention. The Clinton
Administration responded that Lee’s statement was not helpful and reaffirmed the “one China” 1
policy. Some questioned whether U.S. law, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, requires
U.S. defense of Taiwan against an attack from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s
Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, at a July 21, 1999 hearing,
said that Lee “created an opportunity to break free from the anachronistic, Beijing-inspired one-
China policy which has imprisoned U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan for years.”
Representative Benjamin Gilman, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, wrote in a
September 7, 1999 letter to Clinton that it is a “common misperception” that we conceded
officially that Beijing is the capital of the “one China” that includes Taiwan. He wrote, “under no 2
circumstances should the United States move toward Beijing’s version of ‘one China’.”
Table 1. Cabinet-Level Visits to Taiwan After 1979
1992 U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills
1994 Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena
1996 Small Business Administrator Phil Lader
1 Department of State, Press Briefing by James Rubin, July 15, 1999; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s remarks
on visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, July 20, 1999.
2 Dalrymple, Mary, “Taiwanese President’s Comment Inspires GOP to Renew Attack on Clinton’s ‘One China’
Policy,” Congressional Quarterly, July 24, 1999; Letter from Representative Benjamin Gilman to President Clinton,
September 7, 1999.
1998 Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson
2000 Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater
Source: U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, sponsor of economic conferences
Since 2001, U.S. policymakers have tended to stress continuity in maintaining the “one China”
policy. During the George W. Bush Administration, leaders of the House and Senate have stressed
support for Taiwan as a democracy, rather than its independent status. Moreover, Members have
expressed concerns about cross-strait tensions arising from actions taken not only by Beijing but
by Taipei as well.
Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in May 2001 that
“for many years, successive U.S. administrations have affirmed that there is one China and that
the people on Taiwan and the people of China should work out a plan for peaceful unification.”
He also referred to a debate on the nature of the U.S. obligation to “defend democracy in Taiwan” 3
and to prevent a “forceful military unification of Taiwan and China.” Representative Henry
Hyde, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, spoke in Beijing in December 2002
and dismissed notions that U.S. support for Taiwan is geared toward containing or dividing
China. He said that “the bedrock of the very strong support for Taiwan in the U.S. Congress” is
the shared experience as democracies. Moreover, Hyde highlighted Taiwan’s significance as a 4
model of a “Chinese democracy” that proved democracy is compatible with Chinese culture.
As a focal point in the House for diverse interests regarding Taiwan, an initial number of 85
Members formed a bipartisan Taiwan Caucus on April 9, 2002, with Representatives Robert
Wexler, Steve Chabot, Sherrod Brown, and Dana Rohrabacher as co-chairs. Later, 10 Senators
were original members of another Taiwan Caucus formed on September 17, 2003, with Senators
George Allen and Tim Johnson as co-chairs. At two events at the Heritage Foundation in 2003
and 2004, Representatives Robert Andrews and Steve Chabot spoke critically of the “one China” 5
Congressional views have been shaped by developments in Taiwan and concern about cross-strait
tensions. On August 3, 2002, President Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party
(DPP) gave a speech using the phrase “one country on each side” of the strait, surprising
Washington. Leading up to the presidential election on March 20, 2004, Chen advocated holding
the first referendums (on the same day as the election) and drafting a new constitution with a
timetable (a new draft constitution by September 28, 2006; a referendum on the constitution on
December 10, 2006; and enactment of the new constitution on May 20, 2008).
On November 18, 2003, a PRC official on Taiwan affairs who is a PLA major general issued a
threat to use force against what Beijing perceives as the “open promotion of Taiwan 6
independence.” Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage responded by saying that “there’s an
election and campaign going on in Taiwan, and I think one shouldn’t over-emphasize comments
that are made in the heat of an election” and that the United States “has full faith that the question
3 Richard Lugar, “Timely Exit for Ambiguity,” Washington Times, May 17, 2001.
4 Henry Hyde, “Remarks at Tsinghua University,” Beijing, December 10, 2002.
5 “Two Congressmen Look at ‘One China’,” Heritage Foundation, September 16, 2003; Symposium on “Rethinking
‘One China’,” Heritage Foundation, February 26, 2004.
6 “Taiwan Office’s Wang Zaixi: Taiwan Independence Means War, Use of Force is Difficult to Avoid,” Xinhua and
China Daily, November 18, 2003.
of Taiwan will be resolved peacefully.” He added that the TRA guides policy in providing Taiwan
“sufficient defense articles for her self-defense” and “also requires the United States to keep
sufficient force in the Asia Pacific area to be able to keep the area calm.” Armitage reaffirmed
that the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan’s self-defense, with no defense treaty, “doesn’t go 7
beyond that in the Taiwan Relations Act, and we have good, competent military forces there.”
On the eve of his visit to Washington, PRC Premier Wen Jiabao warned on November 22, 2003, 8
that China would “pay any price to safeguard the unity of the motherland.” On November 29,
President Chen surprisingly announced that he would use one provision in the referendum law
passed by the opposition-dominated legislature two days earlier and hold a “defensive
referendum” on China’s threats on the day of the presidential election. During his meeting with
Premier Wen in the Oval Office on December 9, 2003, President Bush stated that he opposed
Chen’s efforts to change the status quo, drawing criticisms that Bush sided with the PRC’s
belligerence. The four co-chairmen of the Taiwan Caucus in the House wrote a letter to President
Bush, criticizing his stance as a victory for the authoritarian regime of the PRC at the expense of 9
Taiwan’s democratic reforms.
After congratulating Chen Shui-bian on his re-election in March 2004, the Administration, in
testimony on April 21, 2004, further clarified U.S. policy toward Taiwan and warned of
“limitations” in U.S. support for constitutional changes in Taiwan. At that hearing on the TRA,
Representative James Leach, Chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on
Asia and the Pacific, stated that Taiwan has the unique situation in which it can have de facto self-
determination only if it does not attempt to be recognized with de jure sovereignty. He urged
Taiwan’s people to recognize that they have greater security in “political ambiguity.” He called
for continuity, saying that “together with our historic ‘one China’ policy,” the TRA has 10
contributed to ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. In his second inaugural address
on May 20, Chen responded to U.S. concerns, excluding sovereignty issues and a referendum
from his plan for a new constitution by 2008. Leach represented the United States at that
inauguration. At a subcommittee hearing on June 2, 2004, Leach praised Chen’s words as
“thoughtful, statesmanlike, and helpful” as well as “constructive” for dialogue with Beijing. To th
mark the 25 anniversary of the TRA on April 10, 2004, the House voted on July 15, 2004, to 11
pass H.Con.Res. 462 (Hyde) to reaffirm “unwavering commitment” to the TRA.
Congressional concerns remain about challenges to U.S. interests in reducing tensions and
fostering dialogue across the Taiwan Strait. In March 2005, China adopted an “Anti-Secession
Law.” Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian announced on February 27, 2006, that he would
“terminate” the National Unification Council and Guidelines. Senator John Warner, Chairman of
the Armed Services Committee, told Admiral William Fallon, Commander of the Pacific
Command, at a committee hearing on March 7, 2006, that “if conflict were precipitated by just
inappropriate and wrongful politics generated by the Taiwanese elected officials, I’m not entirely 12
sure that this nation would come full force to their rescue if they created that problem.” In July
7 Richard Armitage, press availability, Exhibit Hall, Washington, DC, November 18, 2003.
8 Interview with the Washington Post, published November 23, 2003.
9 Sherrod Brown, Steve Chabot, Dana Rohrabacher, and Robert Wexler, “Congressional Taiwan Caucus Urges
President Bush to Reconsider Position on Taiwanese Referendum,” December 11, 2003.
10 House International Relations Committee, hearing, “The Taiwan Relations Act: the Next 25 Years,” April 21, 2004.
11 The vote was 400 yeas, 18 nays, 4 present, and 11 not-voting.
12 Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearing on the FY2007 Defense Department Budget, March 7, 2006.
2007, Representative Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that it
is impractical for Taiwan to seek membership in the U.N.
In sum, Congress has exercised important roles in legislating and overseeing the TRA of 1979, as
Congress and the President have recalibrated the U.S. “one China” policy over the decades. U.S.
national security interests in a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question have been increasingly
challenged by the PRC’s military modernization and Taiwan’s moves perceived in Beijing as
provocatively formalizing and legitimizing a de jure independent status. Since 2000, increasing
political polarization and volatility in Taiwan have raised the importance of U.S. policy toward
Taiwan for fostering U.S. interests there. These interests include sustainable peace and security
for the people of Taiwan and the rest of Asia, Taiwan’s democracy, and economic ties with a
major trading partner. At the same time, the dominance of domestic politics in Taiwan has
reduced U.S. leverage, except that U.S. actions and words can impact those internal politics.
Five key documents stand out among U.S. policy statements on Taiwan:
• Shanghai Communique of 1972
• Normalization Communique of 1979
• Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) (P.L. 96-8) of 1979
• Six Assurances to Taipei of 1982
• August 17 Communique (on arms sales) of 1982.
(See excerpts of these and other statements in Part II of this CRS Report.)
Despite apparently consistent formal statements and closed-door assurances since the end of
World War II (and the end of Taiwan’s status as a colony of Japan that began in 1895), the “one
China” question has been left somewhat ambiguous and subject to different interpretations among
Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. The concept of “one China” has been complicated by the co-
existence of the PRC government ruling the mainland and the ROC government on Taiwan since
The political and strategic context of those key statements also has experienced significant
change. After political liberalization began in 1986, Taiwan became a democracy, with a new
basis for the government’s legitimacy and greater say by proponents of a separate status for
Taiwan. The PRC’s Tiananmen Crackdown of 1989 dramatically proved the limits to liberal
change on the mainland. The original strategic rationale for U.S.-PRC rapprochement faded with
the end of the Cold War. In May 2000, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Chen Shui-bian
became President of the ROC, ousting the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), as the ruling
party in Taiwan for the first time in 55 years.
There are complications about the language in the key statements. First, “China” was not defined
in the three joint communiques. In the Normalization Communique, the United States recognized
the PRC government as the sole legal government of China, but the PRC has never ruled Taiwan
and other islands under the control of the ROC government. The PRC’s late paramount leader
Deng Xiaoping’s 1984 proposal of “one China, two systems” sought to define Taiwan as a
Special Administrative Region under the PRC after unification. On the other hand, “Taiwan” was
defined in Sec. 15(2) of the TRA essentially to be the islands of Taiwan and the Pescadores, plus
the people, entities, and governing authorities there.
Second, there has been disagreement as to whether Taiwan’s status actually was resolved or
determined. In secret talks in 1972, President Nixon assured PRC Premier Zhou Enlai that the
United States viewed the status of Taiwan as “determined” to be part of one China. The PRC’s
December 1978 statement on normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States said
that the Taiwan question “has now been resolved between the two countries.” However, the U.S.
statement of December 1978 on normalization stated the expectation that the Taiwan question
“will be settled” peacefully by the Chinese themselves. The TRA also stipulated the U.S.
expectation that the future of Taiwan “will be determined” by peaceful means. President Reagan’s
1982 statement on arms sales to Taiwan declared that “the Taiwan question is a matter for the
Chinese people, on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, to resolve.” Moreover, under U.S. policy,
“settlement” or “resolution”—not stated as “unification” or “reunification”—of the Taiwan
question is left open to be peacefully determined by both sides of the strait. In a rare public
statement on this U.S. stance, in August 2007, a National Security Council official said that “the
position of the United States Government is that the ROC—Republic of China—is an issue 13
undecided ... for many, many years.”
Third, the questions of the PRC’s possible use of force, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and possible
U.S. help in Taiwan’s self-defense were left contentious and critical for U.S. interests.
Washington consistently has stated its strong interest that there be a peaceful settlement, but the
PRC has not renounced its claimed sovereign right to use force if necessary. Washington has not
promised to end arms sales to Taiwan, although the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954 was 14
terminated on December 31, 1979. In the surprise announcements of December 1978 on
diplomatic recognition, the United States stated its interest in a peaceful resolution, but the PRC
countered that Taiwan is China’s internal affair. President Reagan agreed to the 1982
Communique on reducing U.S. arms sales to Taiwan—premised on the PRC’s declared policy of
peaceful unification. In the early 1990s, the PLA began to build up its theater missile force and to
acquire modern arms, especially from Moscow.
13 Dennis Wilder, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, NSC, White House, “Press Briefing on the President’s Trip to
Australia and the APEC Summit,” August 30, 2007.
14 Article 10 of the Mutual Defense Treaty allowed for its termination one year after notice is given by either side (on
January 1, 1979).
The 1979 TRA states that the United States will provide necessary defense articles and services to
Taiwan for its sufficient self-defense, and will consider with “grave concern” any non-peaceful
means to determine Taiwan’s future. In deciding on that language in 1979, Members of Congress
debated whether the wording on U.S. military intentions was clear or ambiguous. Since the mid-
1990s, a new debate has arisen over how to deter conflict in the Taiwan Strait, including whether
ambiguity or clarity in U.S. statements about a possible military role serves U.S. interests in 15
preventing conflict or provocations from either Beijing or Taipei. There have been issues about
whether and how U.S. statements of intentions might be clarified to specify the conditions under
which the U.S. military might help to defend Taiwan and the U.S. stance on Taiwan’s sovereignty 16
or efforts to change its declared political status. Questions also have persisted about the extent
of the U.S. defense commitment to Taiwan, given President Clinton’s 1996 deployment of two
aircraft carriers near Taiwan and President Bush’s initial statement in 2001 of doing “whatever it
took to help Taiwan defend herself.”
Apart from questions about the language in the key statements on “one China,” policy questions
have arisen about whether successive Administrations have changed the U.S. position since 1971
to adapt to changing circumstances and whether such shifts have advanced U.S. interests.
Successive Administrations have generally maintained that “long-standing” U.S. policy has been
consistent. Some in Congress and others, however, have contended that U.S. policy has changed
in some important areas. There also are issues as to whether any elements of the “one China”
policy should be reviewed for modification. The “one China” policy has evolved to cover three
issue areas: sovereignty, use of force, and cross-strait dialogue.
One issue area for U.S. policy concerns sovereignty, including Taiwan’s juridical status, future 17
unification vs. independence, referendums, a new constitution, and international participation.
The U.S. “one China” policy has differed from the PRC’s principle on “one China,” and there
have been questions about whether U.S. policy is one of support, non-support, or opposition to
unification or independence. In short, U.S. policy has stressed the process (peaceful resolution,
cross-strait dialogue, with the assent of Taiwan’s people, and no provocations or unilateral
15 In the 106th Congress, the House International Relations Committee debated this issue of “ambiguity” and other
issues in the markup of H.R. 1838, “Taiwan Security Enhancement Act,” October 26, 1999.
16 See for example: Joseph Nye, Jr., “A Taiwan Deal,” Washington Post, March 8, 1998; Heritage Foundation and
Project for the New American Century, “Statement on the Defense of Taiwan” by 23 conservatives, including Richard
Armitage and Paul Wolfowitz, August 20, 1999; Thomas Christensen, “Clarity on Taiwan,” Washington Post, March
20, 2000; Richard Bush, “American Ambiguity on Taiwan’s Sovereignty Increases the Island’s Safety,” Insight
Magazine, December 10, 2002.
17 While this report discusses U.S. policy since the first understanding with the PRC in 1971, some say that the U.S.
position on “one China” dates back to World War II. (See Henry Kissinger, “Storm Clouds Gathering,” Washington
Post, September 7, 1999.) In Taiwan after World War II, October 25, 1945, or “Retrocession Day,” marked the
Republic of China’s claim of recovering Taiwan from Japan. Following the ROC government’s retreat to Taiwan in
1949 and the start of the Korean War, the U.S. stance shifted on sovereignty over Taiwan. On January 5, 1950,
President Truman stated that the United States would not get involved in the civil conflict in China. After the Korean
War started, however, President Truman declared on June 27, 1950, that “the determination of the future status of
Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the
United Nations.” (Quoted in Alan Romberg, Reinin at the Brink of the Precipice, Stimson Center, 2003).
changes by either side) rather than the outcome (e.g., unification, independence, confederation).
At the same time, the ROC, or Taiwan, has continued to assert its sovereignty, seek membership
in the United Nations and other international organizations. Moreover, under the ruling DPP since 18
Even while recognizing the ROC government and its “jurisdiction” over Taiwan, on the eve of the
Nixon Administration’s contacts with PRC leaders in Beijing, the State Department testified to
Congress in 1969 and 1970 that the juridical matter of the status of Taiwan remained
undetermined. The State Department also wrote that:
In neither [the Japanese Peace Treaty of 1951 nor the Treaty of Peace between the Republic
of China and Japan of 1952] did Japan cede this area [of Formosa and the Pescadores] to any
particular entity. As Taiwan and the Pescadores are not covered by any existing international
disposition, sovereignty over the area is an unsettled question subject to future international
resolution. Both the Republic of China and the Chinese Communists disagree with this
conclusion and consider that Taiwan and the Pescadores are part of the sovereign state of
China. The United States recognizes the Government of the Republic of China as 19
legitimately occupying and exercising jurisdiction over Taiwan and the Pescadores.
However, accounts of President Nixon’s secret talks with PRC Premier Zhou Enlai in China in
1972 reported that Nixon made promises on the question of Taiwan in return for diplomatic
normalization that went beyond the communique issued at the end. The Carter Administration 20
later called the promises: “Nixon’s Five Points.” Also, according to Assistant Secretary of State
Stanley Roth’s March 1999 testimony, Nixon pledged no U.S. support for Taiwan independence
(second time after Kissinger’s 1971 promise): “We have not and will not support any Taiwan 21
independence movement.” With the release on December 11, 2003, of declassified memoranda
of conversation of the secret talks between Nixon and Zhou, there was confirmation that Nixon
stated as first of Five Principles that “there is one China, and Taiwan is a part of China. There will
be no more statements made—if I can control our bureaucracy—to the effect that the status of
Taiwan is undetermined.”
The United States did not explicitly state its own position on the status of Taiwan in the three
U.S.-PRC Joint Communiques. In 1972, while still recognizing the ROC, the Nixon
Administration declared that it “acknowledges” that “all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan
Strait” maintain that there is one China and Taiwan is a part of China, and that the United States
18 Such as: the addition of “Taiwan” in the title of the ROC Yearbook; the addition of “Taiwan” in English on ROC
passports beginning on September 1, 2003; changing the title of a government publication, Taipei Review, to Taiwan
Review beginning with the March 2003 issue; and requests to use “Taiwan” instead of “Taipei” in the names of
representative offices in the United States and other countries. In April 2007, Taiwan unsuccessfully applied for
membership in the World Health Organization under the name “Taiwan.”
19 Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on U.S. Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad, hearings on the
Republic of China, November 24, 25, 26, 1969, and May 8, 1970. Also: State Department memorandum on the legal
status of Taiwan, July 13, 1971, a copy of which Nat Bellochi, former chairman of AIT, provided.
20 James Mann, About Face: A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China, From Nixon to Clinton (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), p. 46; Harding, Harry, A Fragile Relationship: The United States and China Since 1972
(Washington: Brookings Institution, 1992), p. 43-44. According to Holdridge, Nixon reiterated the position against an
independent Taiwan that Kissinger told Zhou in July 1971.
21 Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hearing on United States-Taiwan Relations: The 20th Anniversary of the
Taiwan Relations Act, March 25, 1999, written response to Senator Helms’ question about precedents for President
Clinton’s June 1998 “Three Noes” statement, citing a Memorandum of Conversation, Tuesday, February 22, 1972, 2:10
pm-6:00 pm (declassified version).
did not challenge that position. After shifting diplomatic recognition to the PRC, the United 22
States, in 1979 and 1982, again “acknowledged the Chinese position” of one China and Taiwan
is part of China. However, the 1982 communique further stated that the United States has no
intention of pursuing a policy of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan,” while President
Reagan’s accompanying statement said that “the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese
people, on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, to resolve.” The TRA did not discuss the “one China”
concept. In 1994, the Clinton Administration stated after its Taiwan Policy Review that the United
States had “acknowledged” the Chinese position on one China and that “since 1978, each
Administration has reaffirmed this policy.”
Despite these apparent similarities in U.S. policy statements, some contend that the U.S. position,
since originally formulated in 1972, has adopted the PRC’s “one China” principle—rather than
steadily maintaining neutrality and equal distance from Beijing and Taipei. In 1982, Senator John
Glenn criticized both the Carter and Reagan Administrations:
The ambiguous formulation agreed upon in the 1979 joint communique went considerably
further in recognizing the PRC’s claim to Taiwan. Although the word “acknowledged”
remained, the object of our acknowledgment shifted noticeably. We no longer just
acknowledged that both Chinas asserted the principle that there was one China, but instead
acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China. By dropping the key phrase
“all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain” one could interpret that we had
moved from the position of neutral bystander noting the existence of a dispute, to a party
accepting the Chinese assertion that there is one China. Clearly, this was the PRC’s
interpretation. ... More recently, Peking’s threats to downgrade relations with the United
States, unless Washington agreed to end all arms sales to Taiwan, prompted President
Reagan to write to China’s Communist Party Chairman, Hu Yaobang, in May 1982, and
assure him that, “Our policy will continue to be based on the principle that there is but one
China. ...” We now assert that it is our policy, U.S. policy, that there is but one China, and
although not stated, indicate implicitly that Taiwan is a part of that one China. The use of the
qualifier “acknowledged” has been dropped altogether. ... I do not believe that anyone can
dispute that the U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan has changed dramatically over the last
10 years. Let me reiterate one more time, in 1972, we acknowledged that the Chinese on both
sides of the Taiwan Strait maintained that there was but one China. Today it is U.S. policy
that there is but one China. Despite this remarkable shift over time, the State Department, at 23
each juncture, has assured us that our policy remained essentially unchanged.
In August 1995—earlier than the first public statements showed in 1997—President Clinton
reportedly sent a secret letter to PRC President Jiang Zemin in which he stated as the U.S.
position that we would: (1) “oppose” Taiwan independence; (2) would not support “two Chinas”
or one China and one Taiwan; and (3) would not support Taiwan’s admission to the United 24
Nations. The opposition to Taiwan independence seemed to go beyond the promises made by
22 The Chinese text said “recognized China’s position.”
23 Statement of Hon. John Glenn, U.S. Senator from Ohio, on China-Taiwan Policy, July 22, 1982, in: Lester L. Wolff
and David L. Simon, Legislative History of the Taiwan Relations Act (New York: American Association for Chinese
Studies, 1982), p. 306-307.
24 Garver, John W., Face Off: China, the United States, and Taiwan’s Democratization (University of Washington
Press, 1997); James Mann, About Face: A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China, From Nixon to
Clinton (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).
former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and President Nixon in 1971 and 1972 of no
U.S. support for Taiwan independence. Later, that wording was apparently changed from
opposition to a neutral stance of non-support. This letter reportedly formed the basis of what were
later known publicly as the “Three Noes.”
At the 1997 Clinton-Jiang summit in Washington, the two leaders issued a joint statement which
included a U.S. position: “the United States reiterates that it adheres to its ‘one China’ policy and
the principles set forth in the three U.S.-China joint communiques.” While that joint statement did
not include the “Three Noes,” the Administration decided to have a State Department
spokesperson say two days later that “we certainly made clear that we have a one-China policy;
that we don’t support a one-China, one-Taiwan policy. We don’t support a two-China policy. We
don’t support Taiwan independence, and we don’t support Taiwanese membership in
organizations that require you to be a member state.” While in China for a summit in June 1998,
President Clinton chose an informal forum to declare: “I had a chance to reiterate our Taiwan
policy, which is that we don’t support independence for Taiwan, or two Chinas, or one Taiwan-
one China. And we don’t believe that Taiwan should be a member in any organization for which
statehood is a requirement.”
Some questioned whether the “Three Noes,” especially as it was publicly declared by the U.S. 25
President while in the PRC, was a change in U.S. policy. U.S. non-support for a one China, one
Taiwan; or two Chinas can be traced to the private assurances of the Nixon Administration in the
early 1970s. However, the Clinton Administration, beginning with its Taiwan Policy Review of
1994, added non-support for Taipei’s entry into the United Nations (U.N.), which became an issue
after Taipei launched its bid in 1993. In response to President Clinton’s “Three Noes,” concerned
Members in both the Senate and the House nearly unanimously passed resolutions in July 1998,
reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Taiwan.
The Clinton Administration, nonetheless, argued that the “Three Noes” did not represent a change
in policy. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 25, 1999, Assistant
Secretary of State Stanley Roth stated that “every point made there [in the “Three Noes”] had
been made before by a previous Administration and there was no change whatsoever.” In a
written response to a question from Senator Helms, Roth cited as precedents for the “Three Noes”
a 1971 statement by Kissinger, a 1972 statement by Nixon, a 1979 statement by Deputy Secretary
of State Warren Christopher, and President Reagan’s 1982 Communique.
On April 25, 2001, when President George W. Bush stated the U.S. commitment to Taiwan as an
obligation to use “whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself,” he also said that “a declaration
of independence is not the one China policy, and we will work with Taiwan to make sure that that
doesn’t happen.” Visiting Beijing in February 2002, Bush said that U.S. policy on Taiwan was
unchanged, but he emphasized U.S. commitment to the TRA and a peaceful resolution, along
with opposition to provocations by either Beijing or Taipei. After Taiwan President Chen Shui-
25 For example: Stephen J. Yates, “Clinton Statement Undermines Taiwan,” Heritage Foundation, July 10, 1998; Ted
Galen Carpenter, “Let Taiwan Defend Itself,” Policy Analysis, Cato Institute, August 24, 1998; Stephen J. Yates,
“Promoting Freedom and Security in U.S.-Taiwan Policy,” Heritage Foundation, October 13, 1998; James Lilley and
Arthur Waldron, “Taiwan is a ‘State,’ Get Over It,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 1999; Harvey J. Feldman, “How
Washington Can Defuse Escalating Tensions in the Taiwan Strait,” Heritage Foundation, August 19, 1999.
bian said on August 3, 2002, that there is “one country on each side” of the Taiwan Strait, the
U.S. National Security Council (NSC) stated, in a second response, that “we do not support
Taiwan independence.” With Jiang Zemin at his side at a summit in Crawford, TX, in October
However, there have been questions about whether the Bush Administration has adjusted U.S.
policy after President Chen Shui-bian surprised the United States in August 2002 with a speech
on “one country on each side” and a call for a holding referendums. Specifically, there has been
the issue of whether President Bush gave assurances, at closed meetings starting at that summit in
October 2002, to PRC President Jiang Zemin and later President Hu Jintao that the United States
“is against” or “opposes” unilateral moves in Taiwan toward independence and/or the status of 26
Taiwan independence, in the interest of stability in the Taiwan Strait. A position in “opposition”
to Taiwan independence would represent a shift in policy focus from the process to the outcome
and go beyond President Nixon’s “Five Principles,” which expressed “non-support” for Taiwan
independence. But U.S. opposition to Taiwan independence would be consistent with President
Clinton’s secret letter reportedly sent in 1995 to PRC leader Jiang Zemin, as the basis for the
“Three Noes.” U.S. opposition would also conflict with the stance of the government of Taiwan,
which, under the DPP, has argued that Taiwan is already independent, as evident since the first 27
democratic presidential election in 1996.
After Chen, during campaigns for Taiwan’s presidential election in March 2004, advocated
holding referendums and adopting a new constitution by 2008—moves that could have
implications for Taiwan’s sovereignty and cross-strait stability, the Bush Administration called on
Chen to adhere to his pledges (“Five Noes”) in his inaugural address of 2000 (including not
promoting a referendum to change the status quo). On September 28, 2003, Chen started his call
for a new constitution for Taiwan (with a draft constitution by September 28, 2006; a referendum
on the constitution on December 10, 2006; and enactment of the new constitution on May 20,
should try unilaterally to change the status quo.” A White House official said in an interview on
November 26, 2003, that “Taiwan shouldn’t be moving towards independence; and mainland 29
China shouldn’t be moving towards the use of force or coercion.” Then, Chen announced on
November 29—two days after the opposition-dominated legislature passed a restrictive law
authorizing referendums—that he would still use one provision to hold a “defensive referendum” 30
on election day. Chen argued that the referendum would be a way for Taiwan’s people to
26 According to the Far Eastern Economic Review (April 22, 2004), President Bush met with his AIT officials, Therese
Shaheen and Douglas Paal, in the summer of 2003 on policy toward Taiwan, and Bush said “I’m not a nuance guy—
’Do not support.’ ‘Oppose.’ It’s the same to me.”
27 Chen Ming-tong, a Vice Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council in Taiwan, spoke at a conference of the Global
Alliance for Democracy and Peace in Houston, TX, on October 31, 2003, and contended that Taiwan is already a
sovereign, democratic country that is in a “post-independence period” and does not need to declare independence.
Joseph Wu, Deputy Secretary General of the Presidential Office of Chen Shui-bian, wrote in Taipei Times on January
6, 2004, that Taiwan’s independence is the “new status quo.”
28 Previously, Secretary of State Warren Christopher stated in May 1996—two months after President Clinton deployed
two aircraft carriers near Taiwan and days before an inauguration address by Taiwan’s President Lee Teng-hui—that
“we have emphasized to both sides the importance of avoiding provocative actions or unilateral measures that would
alter the status quo or pose a threat to peaceful resolution of outstanding issues.”
29 Background interview with Senior White House Official, Phoenix TV, November 26, 2003.
30 Article 17 of the referendum law passed on November 27, 2003, in the Legislative Yuan authorizes the president to
initiate a referendum on national security issues “if the country suffers an external threat that causes concern that
national sovereignty will change.”
express their opposition to the PLA’s missile threat and would have nothing to do with the
question of unification or independence.
Nonetheless, Administration officials have had concerns about the volatile course of current and
future political actions in Taiwan (with elections, referendums, and a new constitution), reforms
geared for governance vs sovereignty, and unnecessary effects on peace and stability, given U.S.
commitments to help Taiwan’s self-defense. The Bush Administration added a new, clearer stance
on December 1, 2003, when the State Department expressed U.S. “opposition” to any referendum
that would change Taiwan’s status or move toward independence. On the same day, the Senior
Director of Asian Affairs at the White House’s National Security Council, James Moriarty,
reportedly was in Taiwan to pass a letter from Bush to Chen with concerns about 31
“provocations.” Apparently needing a public, stronger, and clearer U.S. message to Taiwan,
appearing next to visiting PRC Premier Wen Jiabao at the White House on December 9, 2003,
President Bush stated opposition to any unilateral decision by China or Taiwan to change the
status quo, as well as opposition to efforts by Taiwan’s President Chen to change the status quo,
in response to a question about whether Chen should cancel the referendum.
However, Bush did not make public remarks against the PRC’s threats toward democratic
Taiwan. Bush also did not counter Wen’s remarks that Bush reiterated “opposition” to Taiwan
independence. Bush raised questions about whether he miscalculated the willingness of Chen to
back down during his re-election campaign and risked U.S. credibility, since Chen responded
defiantly that he would hold the “anti-missile, anti-war” referendums as planned and that his 32
intention was to keep Taiwan’s current independent status quo from being changed.
American opinions were divided on the Bush Administration’s statements toward Taiwan. Some
saw Chen as advancing a provocative agenda of permanent separation from China while trying to 33
win votes, and supported Bush’s forceful stance against Chen’s plan for referendums. Others
criticized President Bush for being one-sided in appeasing a dictatorship at the expense of
Taiwan’s democracy while failing to warn against and even possibly inviting aggression from 34
Beijing. The co-chairmen of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus in the House wrote a letter to
President Bush, criticizing his stance as a victory for the authoritarian regime of the PRC at the 35
expense of Taiwan’s democratic reforms. Some critics argued for a new approach, saying that
the “one China” policy became “irrelevant” and that there were national security interests in 36
preventing the “unification” of Taiwan with China. In contrast, another opinion advocated the
31 Lien-Ho Pao [United Daily News], Taipei, December 1, 2003; New York Times, December 9, 2003.
32 Chen Shui-bian responded to Bush in a meeting with visiting Representative Dan Burton on December 10, 2003,
reported Taipei Times, December 11, 2003; and Chen’s meeting with author and others at the Presidential Palace,
Taipei, December 11, 2003.
33 See Wall Street Journal, “The End of Ambiguity,” editorial, December 10, 2003; Ross Munro, “Blame Taiwan,”
National Review, December 18, 2003; Peter Brookes (Heritage Foundation), “Why Bush Acted on Taiwan,” Far
Eastern Economic Review, December 25, 2003; Michael Swaine, “Trouble in Taiwan,” Foreign Affairs, March/April
34 For example, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Gary Schmitt (Project for the New American Century), “U.S.-China-
Taiwan Policy,” December 9, 2003; Washington Post, “Mr. Bush’s Kowtow,” editorial, December 10, 2003; and
Robert Kagan and William Kristol, “Stand by Taiwan,” Weekly Standard, December 22, 2003.
35 Sherrod Brown, Steve Chabot, Dana Rohrabacher, and Robert Wexler, “Congressional Taiwan Caucus Urges
President Bush to Reconsider Position on Taiwanese Referendum,” December 11, 2003.
36 For example, conference at the Heritage Foundation, “Rethinking ‘One China’,” February 26, 2004; and Thomas
Donnelly, “Taiwan: Test Case of the Bush Doctrine,” AEI, National Security Outlook, April 2004.
continuation of arms sales to Taiwan with no position on its independence and staying out of any 37
conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
Still, uncertainty has remained about the Bush Administration’s management of U.S. policy on
questions such as options to recalibrate policy in exercising leverage over Taipei or Beijing;
capacity to maintain the delicate balance in preventing provocations by either side of the strait
rather than swerving to one side or another; perceptions in Taipei and Beijing of mixed messages
from Washington; the U.S. stance on referendums and a new constitution in Taiwan; definition of
“status quo”; deference to democracy in Taiwan; Taiwan’s long-standing, de facto independence
from China; stronger separate national identity in Taiwan; a proactive U.S. political role (such as
urging dialogue, facilitating talks, or mediating negotiations) in addition to proactive pressures on
defense; the extent of the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan’s self-defense; the increasing PLA 38
threat; and U.S. worries about Taiwan’s defense spending, acquisitions, and the will to fight.
On January 16, 2004, President Chen provided the wording for the two questions, saying that the
referendums will ask citizens (1) whether the government should acquire more missile defense
systems if the Chinese Communists do not withdraw missiles and renounce the use of force
against Taiwan, and (2) whether the government should negotiate with the Chinese Communists
to establish a framework for cross-strait peace and stability. Chen also promised that if re-elected, 39
he will maintain “the status quo of cross-strait peace.” On election day on March 20, 2004, the
two referendums failed to be considered valid when 45% of eligible voters cast ballots (less than
the 50% needed).
After the election in March 2004, the White House sent the Senior Director for Asian Affairs,
Michael Green, to Taiwan to urge President Chen to exclude sovereignty-related issues from 40
constitutional changes. In testimony by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly on April 21,
2004, the Bush Administration warned Chen of “limitations” in U.S. support for constitutional
changes in Taiwan. In his inaugural address on May 20, 2004, Chen responded to a number of
One policy question has concerned the appropriate U.S. response to requests from Taiwan’s
president to enter the United States for official visits, private visits, or extended transits; to visit
Washington, D.C.; and to meet with officials and Members of Congress. Congress has expressed
strong support for granting such visits. Since 1994, the U.S. response has evolved from initially
denying Lee Teng-hui entry into the United States to relaxing restrictions on “transits” for Chen
Shui-bian, and back to strict conditions for proposed transits in May 2006.
37 Ted Galen Carpenter, “President Bush’s Muddled Policy on Taiwan,” CATO Institute, Foreign Policy Briefing,
March 15, 2004.
38 Based in part on the author’s visit to Taiwan, December 5-13, 2003. Also, for critiques in a longer-term context, see
for example: Bates Gill (Center for Strategic and International Studies), “Bush Was Correct but Clumsy on Taiwan
Policy,” Financial Times, December 12, 2003; Kenneth Lieberthal (University of Michigan), “Dire Strait: The Risks on
Taiwan,” Washington Post, January 8, 2004.
39 Office of the President of the Republic of China, news releases (in Chinese and English), January 16, 2004. Chen’s
use of the phrase “the status quo of cross-strait peace” was translated simply as “status quo” in the official English
40 Susan Lawrence, “Bush to Taiwan: Don’t Risk It,” Far Eastern Economic Review, May 20, 2004.
In May 1994, the Clinton Administration allowed President Lee Teng-hui to make a refueling stop
in Hawaii but denied him a visa. In 1995, Lee received a visa to visit Cornell University, his alma
mater. (Beijing responded with PLA exercises and missile launches in 1995 and 1996.) Congress’
view was an important factor acknowledged by the Administration in its reversal of policy to
grant the visa.
In August 2000, the Clinton Administration granted a visa to the newly-elected President Chen
Shui-bian to transit in Los Angeles on his way to South America and Africa, but, according to
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry, Washington and Taipei had an understanding that Chen would not
hold public events. Representative Sam Gejdenson organized a meeting between Chen and about
but Chen told them he was “unavailable.”
In 2001, in granting President Chen Shui-bian “private and unofficial” transits through New York
(May 21-23) and Houston (June 2-3) en route to and from Latin America, the Bush
Administration took a different position on such meetings. As the State Department spokesperson
said, “we do believe that private meetings between Members of Congress and foreign leaders 42
advance our national interests, so [Chen] may have meetings with Members of Congress.” On
the night of May 21, 2001, 21 Representatives attended a dinner with Chen in New York, and
Representative Tom DeLay later hosted Chen in Houston.
In 2003, while considering his safety, comfort, convenience, and dignity, the Bush Administration
again granted President Chen’s requests for transits to and from Panama through New York 43
(October 31-November 2) and Anchorage (November 4-5). Some Members of Congress
personally welcomed Chen, including 16 Members who were already in New York and met with
him. No Administration officials met with Chen, other than AIT officials based in Washington.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Randall Schriver reportedly canceled a planned meeting with 44
Chen in New York, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage talked with Chen by phone.
Chen Shui-bian enjoyed extended transits through Honolulu and Seattle in August-September
2004, though these were less high-profile than that in New York. In January 2005, Chen stopped
in Guam on the way back to Taiwan from Palau and the Solomon Islands. In September 2005, the
Bush Administration allowed Chen to stop one day in Miami on his way to Latin America and in
San Francisco on his return to Taiwan. The Congressional Human Rights Caucus, via
teleconference, awarded Chen a human rights award while he was in Miami.
However, in May 2006, the Bush Administration was not pleased at repeated statements from
President Chen Shui-bian and responded by tightening restrictions on his proposed U.S. stops so
that they would be strict transits (with no activities), conditions similar to those for Lee Teng-hui
in 1994. Chen requested stops in San Francisco and New York for his visit to Latin America, but
President Bush countered with transits in Honolulu and Anchorage, and Chen refused those U.S.
cities. Representatives Thomas Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher sent a letter on May 5, 2006, to
41 Central News Agency (Taipei), August 9, 2000; “Taiwan Leader Stops in Los Angeles,” Washington Post, August
14, 2000; Sam Gejdenson, “Taiwan Deserves Better: Why We Should Have Met with President Chen,” Washington
Times, August 21, 2000.
42 Department of State, press briefing by Richard Boucher, May 14, 2001.
43 Department of State, press briefing by Richard Boucher, October 7, 2003.
44 Susan Lawrence, “Diplomatic But Triumphal Progress,” Far Eastern Economic Review, November 13, 2003.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, questioning the decision’s consistency with legislation;
possible linkage to ties with Beijing; use of “humiliating” conditions on the transits; reversal of
policy despite President Bush’s affirmation of a consistent policy; impact on future U.S. stops;
and implication for “playing politics” given the contrast with Deputy Secretary of State Robert
Zoellick’s high-level meeting in Washington with the opposition KMT chairman, Ma Ying-jeou,
two months earlier. In September 2006, the Administration allowed Chen to stop in Guam, but he
had to switch to a civilian aircraft instead of his “Air Force One” that flew him to Palau.
In January 2007, the Administration allowed President Chen to stop overnight in San Francisco
and to refuel in Los Angeles on his way to and from Nicaragua. In response to restrictions on
Chen’s transits, Representative Dana Rohrabacher and 14 other Members wrote a letter to House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on January 12, 2007, calling for the removal of all restrictions on bilateral
high-level visits with Taiwan. A week later, Representative Tancredo criticized (in extension of
remarks) Mexico’s move to ban Chen’s plane from Mexican airspace on his way to Los Angeles,
a move similar to U.S. treatment toward Taiwan. In August 2007, the Administration restricted
Chen’s transits to 50-minute refueling stops in Anchorage on his way to and from Central
America, with no overnight stays.
Meanwhile, the United States, with strong congressional backing, has voiced some support for
Taiwan’s quest for international space, including participation in certain international
organizations on transnational issues. Some advocates view such participation as preserving a
democratic government’s international presence and promoting the interests of Taiwan’s people,
while others support Taiwan’s separate identity or independence. The Clinton Administration’s
1994 Taiwan Policy Review promised to support Taiwan’s membership in organizations where
statehood is not a prerequisite and to support opportunities for Taiwan’s voice to be heard in
organizations where its membership is not possible.
On May 11, 2001, President Bush wrote to Senator Frank Murkowski, agreeing that the
Administration should “find opportunities for Taiwan’s voice to be heard in organizations in order
to make a contribution, even if membership is impossible,” including concrete ways for Taiwan to
benefit from and contribute to the World Health Organization (WHO). On April 9, 2002,
Representatives in the House formed a Taiwan Caucus, and, as its first action, it wrote a letter on
April 19, 2002, to the President, seeking support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO. With
worldwide attention on the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, Secretary of
Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson expressed support for Taiwan in a speech at the
World Health Assembly on May 19, 2003, saying that “the need for effective public health exists
among all peoples” and “that’s why the United States has strongly supported Taiwan’s inclusion
in efforts against SARS and beyond.”
By the annual meeting in 2005, Taiwan lamented that the United States did not speak up and that
the WHO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the PRC to govern the WHO’s technical
exchanges with Taiwan.45 Still, the Bush Administration “applauded” the WHO and China for 46
taking steps in 2005 to greatly increase Taiwan’s participation in WHO conferences.
In March 2007, the State Department submitted a required report to Congress on Taiwan’s
participation at the WHO, stating support for Taiwan’s observership and opposition to its
membership. The report noted demarches sent by the United States and other countries to the 47
WHO to support expanded contacts with Taiwan. In April 2007, the Administration also issued
demarches to the WHO about political or nomenclature conditions placed on Taiwan’s 48
participation. In April 2007, Taiwan applied for membership in the WHO, and the bid was
rejected in May at the World Health Assembly by a vote of 17-148 (including U.S. opposition).
During the 103rd Congress, the Congress passed and President Clinton signed (on April 30, 1994)
the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1994 and FY1995 (P.L. 103-236) that, inter alia,
directed the State Department to register foreign-born Taiwanese-Americans as U.S. citizens born
in Taiwan (rather than China); and called for the President to send Cabinet-level officials to
Taiwan and to show clear U.S. support for Taiwan in bilateral and multilateral relationships.
After the Administration denied President Lee Teng-hui a visa in May 1994, the Senate, from July
to October, passed amendments introduced by Senator Brown to ensure that Taiwan’s President
can enter the United States on certain occasions. Two amendments (for S. 2182 and H.R. 4606)
that passed were not retained, but the amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Technical
Corrections Act of 1994 was enacted. Upon signing it into law (P.L. 103-416) on October 25,
Later, Congress overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan H.Con.Res. 53 expressing the sense of
Congress that the President should promptly welcome a private visit by President Lee Teng-hui to
his alma mater, Cornell University, and a transit stop in Anchorage, Alaska, to attend a
conference. The House passed the resolution by 396-0 on May 2, and the Senate passed it by 97-1
on May 9, 1995 (with Senator Johnston voting Nay and Senators Moynihan and Warner not
During the 106th Congress, in 1999, Congress legislated a requirement for semi-annual reports on
such U.S. support, in Section 704 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FYs 2000 and
2001 (P.L. 106-113). Also in 1999, Congress passed legislation (P.L. 106-137) requiring a report
by the Secretary of State on efforts to support Taiwan’s participation in the WHO. In January
2000, the State Department submitted the report, saying that the United States does not support
Taiwan’s membership in organizations, such as the U.N. or WHO, where statehood is a
requirement for membership, but that it supports any arrangements acceptable to the WHO
45 In May 2007, the Formosan Association of Public Affairs released the “Implementation of the Memorandum of
Understanding between the WHO Secretariat and China.”
46 Melody Chen, “Support for WHO Bid Dries Up,” Taipei Times, May 18, 2005; State Department, “Taiwan: The
World Health Assembly,” May 19, 2006. In November 2005, Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control participated in a
WHO conference on bird flu.
47 State Department, “United States Support for Taiwan’s Participation as an Observer at the 60th World Health
Assembly and in the Work of the World Health Organization,” 2007.
48 Chen Shui-bian, “The Shunning of a State,” Washington Post, May 11, 2007.
membership to allow for Taiwan to participate in the work of the WHO.49 In October 2000, the
House and Senate passed H.Con.Res. 390, expressing the sense of Congress that the State
Department’s report failed to endorse Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and
that the United States should fulfill the commitment of the Taiwan Policy Review to more
actively support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.
In the 107th Congress, on May 17, 2001, Members in the House agreed without objection to
H.Con.Res. 135 to welcome President Chen Shui-bian upon his visit.
Also, Congress enacted legislation, P.L. 107-10, authorizing the Secretary of State to initiate a
U.S. plan to obtain observer status for Taiwan at the annual summit of the World Health 50
Assembly in May 2001 in Geneva, Switzerland. Then, Representative Sherrod Brown and
Senator Torricelli introduced H.R. 2739 and S. 1932 to amend the law to target the May 2002
meeting. H.R. 2739 was passed and enacted as P.L. 107-158 on April 4, 2002.
As enacted on September 30, 2002, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2003 (P.L.
107-228), authorized—at the Bush Administration’s request—U.S. departments or agencies
(including the Departments of State and Defense) to assign or detail employees to the American
Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the non-profit corporation (with offices in Washington and Taipei) that
has handled the U.S.-Taiwan relationship in the absence of diplomatic ties since 1979 under the
TRA. (Personnel at AIT had been technically “separated” from government service for a period of
time, raising issues about employment status, benefits, recruitment, etc.) The legislation also
expressed the sense of Congress that AIT and the residence of its director in Taipei should
publicly display the American flag “in the same manner as United States embassies, consulates,
and official residences throughout the world.” (AIT in Taipei has flown the U.S. flag only
In the 108th Congress, the House and Senate passed S. 243 to authorize the Secretary of State to
initiate a U.S. plan to obtain observer status for Taiwan at the World Health Assembly in May
2003. Upon signing the bill as P.L. 108-28 on May 29, 2003, President Bush stated that “the
United States fully supports the overall goal of Taiwan’s participation in the work of the World
Health Organization (WHO), including observership” but considered the Act to be consistent with
the “one China” policy. On October 30, 2003, the House passed H.Con.Res. 302 by 416-0 to
welcome President Chen to the United States.
On April 21 and May 6, 2004, the House and Senate passed H.R. 4019 and S. 2092 in support of
Taiwan’s efforts to gain observer status in the WHO and to make it an annual requirement to have
an unclassified report from the Secretary of State on the U.S. plan to help obtain that status for
Taiwan. The implication of this change was the end of annual congressional statements and votes
on this issue. In signing S. 2092 into law (P.L. 108-235) on June 14, 2004, President Bush stated
that the United States fully supports the participation of Taiwan in the work of the WHO,
including observer status. However, he also declared that his Administration shall construe the
reporting requirement by using his authority to “withhold information” which could impair
foreign relations or other duties of the Executive Branch.
49 Department of State, “Report Required by P.L. 106-137, Fiscal Year 2000, Taiwan Participation in the World Health
Organization (WHO),” January 4, 2000.
50 The Vatican, Order of Malta, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) have attended the WHA’s meetings
The PRC has never renounced its claimed right to use force in what it sees as an internal problem
and, moreover, has voiced more explicitly and demonstrated clearly its willingness to use force
for political if not military objectives—despite its announced policy of “peaceful unification”
since 1979. Since the early 1990s, the PRC has purchased more advanced arms from the Soviet 51
Union/Russia and built up its theater missile force. In December 1992 and March 1993, PRC
President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng began to warn of having to use “drastic” or “resolute”
measures to prevent Taiwan independence. In 1995-1996, the PRC launched provocative military
exercises, including missile “test-firings,” to express displeasure with then Taiwan President Lee
Teng-hui’s private visit to the United States and to intimidate voters before the first democratic
presidential election in Taiwan. The United States believes that the PLA accelerated its buildup
since the Taiwan Strait Crisis in the mid-1990s (during which President Clinton deployed two
aircraft carrier battle groups near Taiwan in March 1996). Following the crisis was Lee Teng-
hui’s statement on “state-to-state ties” in 1999.
In February 2000, on the eve of another presidential election in Taiwan, the PRC issued its second
White Paper on Taiwan, reaffirming the peaceful unification policy but adding a new precondition
for the use of force. As one of “Three Ifs,” the PRC officially warned that even if Taiwan
indefinitely refuses to negotiate a peaceful settlement, the PRC would be compelled to use force
to achieve unification. However, no deadline was issued. The White Paper also warned the United
States not to sell arms to Taiwan or pursue any form of alliance with Taiwan, including
cooperation in missile defense.
The United States has expressed the consistent position—in increasingly stronger ways—that any 52
resolution of the Taiwan question be peaceful. Congress passed and President Carter signed the
TRA of 1979, adding U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan’s self-defense and a potential U.S. role in
maintaining peace in the strait. The TRA left the U.S. obligation to help defend Taiwan somewhat
ambiguous and did not bind future U.S. decisions. Section 2(b)(4) states that the United States
51 See Annual reports to Congress from the Secretary of Defense on PRC Military Power; CRS Report 97-391, China:
Ballistic and Cruise Missiles, by Shirley A. Kan, and CRS Report RL30700, China’s Foreign Conventional Arms
Acquisitions: Background and Analysis, by Shirley A. Kan, Christopher Bolkcom, and Ronald O’Rourke.
52 Of course, Congress, since the 1950s, has debated critical issues about whether to use U.S. military forces to defend
the ROC government on Taiwan, whether to include the off-shore islands in any security coverage, and the role of
Congress in such decision-making. After the KMT, led by Chiang Kai-Shek, retreated to Taiwan in 1949, President
Truman stated in January 1950 that the United States would not interfere in China’s civil war to defend Taiwan. After th
North Korea’s attack on South Korea in June 1950, however, Truman ordered the 7 Fleet to prevent attacks by both
sides across the Taiwan Strait. In August 1954, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced that there would be a
U.S.-ROC defense treaty (signed on December 2, 1954), and PRC bombardment and attacks on off-shore islands
started the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1954-1955. (See Ralph Clough, Island China. Harvard University Press, 1978.) On
January 24, 1955, President Eisenhower, in a message to Congress, requested a resolution to authorize the use of force
to protect Formosa, the Pescadores, and related positions and territories. After significant debate, Congress passed
H.J.Res. 159 on January 29, 1955. The Formosa Resolution was enacted as P.L. 84-4. The Senate Foreign Relations
Subcommittee on U.S. Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad held extensive hearings on November 24, 25,
26, 1969, and May 8, 1970, to review “United States Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad with the Republic
will consider with “grave concern” any non-peaceful means to determine Taiwan’s future. The
TRA also excluded the islands off the mainland (e.g., Quemoy and Matsu) in its security coverage
over Taiwan. Nonetheless, the Section 2(b)(6) of the TRA declares it to be policy to maintain the
U.S. capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the
security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan [emphasis added].
In 1982, President Reagan signed the Joint Communique on reducing arms sales to Taiwan, but
he also stated in public and internal clarifications that U.S. arms sales will continue in accordance
with the TRA and with the full expectation that the PRC’s approach to the resolution of the
Taiwan issue will continue to be peaceful. President George H. W. Bush decided in September
On March 10 and 11, 1996, the Clinton Administration announced decisions to deploy two
aircraft carrier battle groups to waters off Taiwan, after the PRC announced renewed PLA
exercises that would include further missile “test-firings” toward Taiwan and Congress introduced
legislation on helping to defend the ROC. President Clinton demonstrated that there might be
grave consequences, as well as grave concern, to non-peaceful efforts to determine Taiwan’s
future. However, the Joint Statement at the 1997 Clinton-Jiang summit did not mention the TRA.
In April 2001, President George W. Bush publicly stated the U.S. commitment to Taiwan as an 53
obligation to do “whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself” [emphasis added]. Visiting
two allies then China in February 2002, the President, in Tokyo, cited the U.S. commitment to
Taiwan in the context of support for five regional allies (Japan, South Korea, Australia,
Philippines, and Thailand)—to applause from the Diet, or Japan’s legislature. Then, in Beijing,
Bush emphasized U.S. commitments to the TRA and a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan
question, while voicing opposition to provocations from either side.
However, indicating concerns about miscalculations of U.S. views in Taiwan, Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless told Taiwan’s Deputy Defense Minister Chen Chao-min in
February 2003 that, while the President said we will do whatever it takes to help Taiwan defend
itself, Taiwan “should not view America’s resolute commitment to peace and stability in the 54
Taiwan Strait as a substitute for investing the necessary resources in its own defense.”
In November 2003, with concerns about PRC threats and Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian’s
efforts to hold referendums, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said that the TRA is not
a defense treaty. Armitage added that the TRA guides policy in providing Taiwan “sufficient
defense articles for her self-defense” and “also requires the United States to keep sufficient force
in the Asia Pacific area to be able to keep the area calm.” Armitage reaffirmed that the U.S.
53 Assessments differed on the implications of Bush’s interpretation of the U.S. commitment. Congress expressed
mixed reactions. Senator Joseph Biden wrote that “we now appear to have a policy of ambiguous strategic ambiguity. It
is not an improvement.” (Washington Post, May 2, 2001.) Senator Richard Lugar contended that the President’s
statement “reflected a common-sense appraisal of the strategic situation in Asia.” (Washington Times, May 17, 2001.)
The Wall Street Journal (April 26, 2001) wrote that Bush sent a message to Beijing that Washington has a “strong
national interest in preserving Taiwan’s democracy” and there is “now less chance of a miscalculation by China’s
leaders.” Others, including Michael O’Hanlan (New York Times, April 27, 2001), said Bush departed from ambiguity,
which serves U.S. interests in preserving all options and in discouraging provocations by Taipei. A third argument was
that the U.S. defense commitment to Taiwan should be limited to arms sales and that “preserving Taiwan’s de facto
independence” is not a vital U.S. security interest (Ted Galen Carpenter, “Going Too Far: Bush’s Pledge to Defend
Taiwan,” CATO Institute Foreign Policy Briefing, May 30, 2001).
54 U.S.-Taiwan Business Council conference, San Antonio, TX, February 2003.
commitment to assist Taiwan’s self-defense, with no defense treaty, “doesn’t go beyond that in the 55
Taiwan Relations Act, and we have good, competent military forces there.” President Bush
appeared with PRC Premier Wen Jiabao in the Oval Office on December 9, 2003, and stated U.S.
opposition to any unilateral decisions made by the leader of Taiwan to change the status quo.
In April 2004, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly further clarified U.S. policy after Chen
Shui-bian’s re-election in March and warned Taiwan not to dismiss PRC statements as “empty
threats” and warned of “limitations” to U.S. support for constitutional changes in Taiwan. At the
same time, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Peter Rodman 56
warned Beijing that its attempt to use force would “inevitably” involve the United States.
Aside from the issue of whether the U.S. strategy on assisting Taiwan’s self-defense should be
ambiguous or clear in a policy seeking deterrence towards Beijing and Taipei, a third view
advocates the removal of any defense commitment (implicit or explicit) while continuing to sell 57
weapons for Taiwan’s self-defense.
Despite the absence of diplomatic and alliance relations, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been
significant. Moreover, beginning after tensions in the Taiwan Strait in 1995-1996, the Pentagon
under the Clinton Administration quietly expanded the sensitive military relationship with Taiwan
to levels unprecedented since 1979. These broader exchanges reportedly have increased attention
to so-called “software,” discussions over strategy, logistics, command and control, and plans in 58
the event of an invasion of Taiwan.
The George W. Bush Administration has continued and expanded the closer military ties at
different levels. In April 2001, President Bush announced he would drop the 20-year-old annual
arms talks process used in relations with Taiwan’s military in favor of normal, routine
considerations of Taiwan’s requests on an as-needed basis. Then, the Bush Administration granted
a visa for ROC Defense Minister Tang Yiau-ming to visit the United States to attend a private
conference held by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council on March 10-12, 2002, in St. Petersburg,
FL, making him the first ROC defense minister to come to the United States on a non-transit 59
purpose since 1979. Tang met with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who told the
conference that the United States is willing to help Taiwan’s military to strengthen civilian 60
control, enhance jointness, and rationalize arms acquisitions. In July 2002, the Pentagon issued
a report to Congress on the PLA, warning that “the PRC’s ambitious military modernization casts
a cloud over its declared preference for resolving differences with Taiwan through peaceful
means.” The report also stressed that “Beijing has developed a range of non-lethal coercive
55 Richard Armitage, press availability, Exhibit Hall, Washington, DC, November 18, 2003.
56 Hearing on “The Taiwan Relations Act: The Next 25 Years,” held by the House International Relations Committee,
April 21, 2004.
57 Ted Galen Carpenter (Cato Institute), America’s Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan, Palgrave
58 See CRS Report RL30957, Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990, and CRS Report RS20365, Taiwan: Annual
Arms Sales Process, by Shirley A. Kan.
59 In December 2001, the previous ROC Defense Minister, Wu Shih-wen, made a U.S. transit on his way to the
60 Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, “Remarks to the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council,” March 11, 2002.
options, including political/diplomatic, economic, and military measures.”61 The assessment has
policy implications, since according to the TRA, it is U.S. policy to maintain the U.S. capacity to
resist any resort to force or other forms of “coercion” against Taiwan’s security, or social or
Also in 2002, the Bush Administration requested legislation be passed to authorize the assignment
of personnel from U.S. departments and agencies to AIT, with implications for the assignment of
active-duty military personnel to Taiwan for the first time since 1979. (See the discussion below
of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2003.) While allowing military representatives
in Taiwan, the Administration maintained a ban on visits by U.S. general and flag officers to
Taiwan, under the State Department’s “Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan.”
Although there has been much interest among U.S. academic circles and think tanks in pursuing 62
talks with China on its military buildup and increased U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, a
catalyst for this debate among policymakers arose out of the U.S.-PRC summit in Crawford, TX,
on October 25, 2002. As confirmed to Taiwan’s legislature by its envoy to Washington, C.J. Chen,
and reported in Taiwan’s media, PRC leader Jiang Zemin offered in vague terms a freeze or
reduction in China’s deployment of missiles targeted at Taiwan, in return for restraints in U.S. 63
arms sales to Taiwan. President Bush reportedly did not respond to Jiang’s linkage. Policy
considerations include the TRA (under which the United States has based its defense assistance to
Taiwan on the threat that it faces), the 1982 Joint Communique (which discussed reductions in
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan premised on the PRC’s peaceful unification policy), and the 1982 “Six
Assurances” to Taiwan (which said the United States did not agree to hold prior consultations
with the PRC on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan). On April 21, 2004, Assistant Secretary of State
James Kelly testified to the House International Relations Committee that if the PRC meets its
stated obligations to pursue a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue and matches its rhetoric
with a military posture that bolsters and supports peaceful approaches to Taiwan, “it follows
logically that Taiwan’s defense requirements will change.”
Since the 1990s, particularly given the PLA’s provocative exercises and missile launches in 1995
and 1996, Congress has asserted its role vis-a-vis the President in determining arms sales to
Taiwan, as stipulated by Section 3(b) of the TRA, as well as in exercising its oversight of the
TRA, including Section 2(b)(6) on the U.S. capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of
coercion against Taiwan.
61 Department of Defense, “Annual Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China,” July 12, 2002.
62 See David Lampton and Richard Daniel Ewing, “U.S.-China Relations in a Post-September 11th World,” Nixon
Center, August 2002; David Shambaugh’s remarks at conference held by the Carnegie Endowment, Stanford
University, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, on
“Taiwan and U.S. Policy: Toward Stability or Crisis?,” October 9, 2002; Michael Swaine, “Reverse Course? The
Fragile Turnaround in U.S.-China Relations,” Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief, February 2003; and David Lampton,
“The Stealth Normalization of U.S.-China Relations,” National Interest, Fall 2003.
63 Chung-Kuo Shih-Pao [China Times], November 22, 2002; Taipei Times, November 23, 2002.
64 For fuller discussion of legislation, see CRS Report RL30957, Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990, by
Shirley A. Kan.
During the 103rd Congress, the Congress passed and President Clinton signed (on April 30, 1994)
the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1994 and FY1995 (P.L. 103-236) that, inter alia,
declared that Sec. 3 of the TRA (i.e., on arms sales) takes primacy over policy statements (i.e., the
During the 104th Congress, in early 1996, Congress became increasingly concerned about
provocative PLA exercises held the previous summer and again on the eve of Taiwan’s
presidential election in March 1996 (with “test-firings” of M-9 short-range ballistic missiles to
target areas close to the two Taiwan ports of Kaohsiung and Keelung). Introduced by
Representative Chris Cox on March 7, passed by the House on March 19, and passed by the
Senate on March 21, 1996, H.Con.Res. 148 expressed the sense of Congress that the United
States should assist in defending the ROC. On March 13, 1996, during markup of H.Con.Res. 148
in the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Delegate Eni
Faleomavaega noted that House and Senate resolutions prompted the Clinton Administration to
deploy the USS Independence and USS Nimitz carriers. The resolution cited Section 3(c) of the
TRA, which directs the President to inform Congress promptly of any threat to the security or the
social or economic system of the people on Taiwan and to determine the U.S. response along with
Congress. However, on March 14, 1996, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific
Affairs Winston Lord told the Subcommittee that “however serious, the present situation does not
constitute a threat to Taiwan of the magnitude contemplated by the drafters of the Taiwan
Relations Act” and that “if warranted by circumstances, we will act under Section 3(c) of the
TRA, in close consultation with the Congress.”
In the 105th Congress, the FY1999 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 105-261) required
the Secretary of Defense to study the U.S. missile defense systems that could protect and could be
transferred to “key regional allies,” defined in the conference report as Japan, South Korea, and 65
Taiwan. In addition, the conference report (H.Rept. 105-746 of the FY1999 Defense
Appropriations Act, P.L. 105-262) required a report from the Pentagon on the security situation in 66
the Taiwan Strait, in both classified and unclassified forms.
In the 106th Congress, the FY2000 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-65) enacted a
requirement for the Pentagon to submit annual reports on PRC military power and the security
situation in the Taiwan Strait.
In asserting its role in decision-making on arms sales to Taiwan, Congress passed language,
introduced by Senator Lott, in the FY2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act (in Div. B of
P.L. 106-113), requiring the Secretary of State to consult with Congress to devise a mechanism
for congressional input in determining arms sales to Taiwan. Again, in the FY2001 Foreign
Operations Appropriations Act (Sec. 581 of P.L. 106-429), Congress passed the Taiwan Reporting
Requirement, requiring the President to consult on a classified basis with Congress 30 days prior
to the next round of arms sales talks. (Those required consultations took place on March 16,
65 Department of Defense, “Report to Congress on Theater Missile Defense Architecture Options for the Asia-Pacific
Region,” May 1999; CRS Report RL30379, Missile Defense Options for Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan: A Review of
the Defense Department Report to Congress, by Robert D. Shuey, Shirley A. Kan, and Mark Christofferson, November
66 Department of Defense, “Report to Congress Pursuant to the FY99 Appropriations Bill, The Security Situation in the
Taiwan Strait,” February 1, 1999; CRS Report RS20187, Taiwan’s Defense: Assessing The U.S. Department of Defense
Report, “The Security Situation in the Taiwan Strait”, by Robert G. Sutter, April 30, 1999.
In addition to examining defense transfers to Taiwan, Congress also began to look closer at U.S.
military deployments. The consolidated appropriations legislation for FY2000 (P.L. 106-113)
required a report on the operational planning of the Department of Defense to implement the TRA
and any gaps in knowledge about PRC capabilities and intentions affecting the military balance in 67
the Taiwan Strait.
In the 107th Congress, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2002 (P.L. 107-107),
enacted December 28, 2001, authorized the President to transfer (by sale) the four Kidd-class
destroyers to Taiwan (Sec. 1011), under Section 21 of the AECA. Also, Section 1221 of the act
required a section in the annual report on PRC military power (as required by P.L. 106-65) to
assess the PLA’s military acquisitions and any implications for the security of the United States
and its friends and allies. The scope of arms transfers to be covered was not limited to those from 68
Russia and other former Soviet states, as in the original House language (H.R. 2586).
The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY2002 (P.L. 107-115), as enacted on January 10,
2002, brought unprecedented close coordination between the Executive and Legislative branches
on arms sales to Taiwan. Section 573 required the Departments of State and Defense to provide
detailed briefings (not specified as classified) to congressional committees (including those on
appropriations) within 90 days of enactment and not later than every 120 days thereafter during
FY2002. The briefings were to report on U.S.-Taiwan discussions on potential sales of defense
articles or services.
Some Members in the House and Senate called for ensuring regular and high-level consultations
with Taiwan and a role for Congress in determining arms sales to Taiwan, after President Bush
announced on April 24, 2001, that he would drop the annual arms talks process with Taiwan in
favor of normal, routine considerations on an “as-needed” basis. Enacted as P.L. 107-228, the
Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2003 authorized—at the Bush Administration’s
request—the Department of State and other departments or agencies (including the Department of
Defense) to detail employees to AIT (Section 326); required that Taiwan be “treated as though it
were designated a major non-NATO ally” (Section 1206); required consultations with Congress
on U.S. security assistance to Taiwan every 180 days (Section 1263); and authorized the sale to
Taiwan of the four Kidd-class destroyers (Section 1701). Section 326, amending the Foreign
Service Act of 1980, has significant implications for the assignment of government officials to
Taiwan, including active-duty military personnel for the first time since 1979.
In signing the bill into law on September 30, 2002, President Bush issued a statement that
included his view of Section 1206 (on a “major non-NATO ally”). He said that “Section 1206
could be misconstrued to imply a change in the ‘one China’ policy of the United States when, in
fact, that U.S. policy remains unchanged. To the extent that this section could be read to purport
to change United States policy, it impermissibly interferes with the President’s constitutional
authority to conduct the Nation’s foreign affairs.” Nonetheless, the Acting Under Secretary of
Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Michael Wynne, submitted a letter to
Congress on August 29, 2003, that designated Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally.”
67 Department of Defense, “Report to Congress on Implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act,” December 2000.
68 Still, the Pentagon’s report, issued on July 12, 2002, discussed China’s military acquisitions from states of the former
Soviet Union, and not other countries (e.g., Israel).
The House-passed FY2003 National Defense Authorization Act contained Section 1202 seeking
to require the Secretary of Defense to implement a comprehensive plan to conduct combined
training and exchanges of senior officers with Taiwan’s military and to “enhance interoperability”
with Taiwan’s military. The language was similar to that of Section 5(b) in the Taiwan Security th
Enhancement Act proposed in the 106 Congress. The Senate’s version did not have the
language. As enacted on December 2, 2002, the legislation (P.L. 107-314) contains a revised
section (1210) requiring a Presidential report 180 days after the act’s enactment on the feasibility
and advisability of conducting combined operational training and exchanges of senior officers
with Taiwan’s military. (Military exchanges may take place in the United States, but U.S. 69
flag/general officers may not visit Taiwan.)
In the 110th Congress, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved, on September 26, 2007,
H.Res. 676 (introduced by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) that noted the Bush
Administration’s lack of response to Taiwan’s interest in buying F-16C/D fighters and that urged
the Administration to determine security assistance “based solely” upon the legitimate defense
needs of Taiwan (citing Section 3(b) of the TRA). The House passed H.Res. 676 on October 2,
President Nixon in 1972, President Carter in 1978, and President Reagan in 1982 publicly stated
the U.S. expectation that the Chinese themselves will settle the Taiwan question. President
Reagan also gave “Six Assurances” to Taiwan in 1982. The assurances to Taipei, made just before
the United States and the PRC issued the August 17, 1982 Joint communique, included
assurances that Washington will not mediate between Taipei and Beijing, and will not pressure
Taipei to negotiate with Beijing.
One policy question concerns the extent of U.S. encouragement of cross-strait dialogue and the
U.S. role in any talks or negotiations to resolve the Taiwan question. As Taipei and Beijing’s
economic relationship grew to significant levels by the early 1990s and the two sides began to
talk directly through quasi-official organizations, the Clinton Administration increasingly voiced
its support for the cross-strait dialogue, encouraging Taipei in particular. Like a bystander, the
State Department said in its Taiwan Policy Review of 1994 that “the United States applauds the
continuing progress in the cross-strait dialogue.” After talks broke off and military tensions
flared, however, the Administration, after 1996, privately and publicly urged both sides to hold
this dialogue as an added part of a more proactive U.S. policy. In July 1996, National Security
Advisor Anthony Lake visited China and planned a meeting (later canceled) with Wang Daohan,
head of the PRC’s organization for cross-strait talks. At the 1997 U.S.-PRC summit, President
Clinton urged for a peaceful resolution “as soon as possible” and that “sooner is better than later.”
In March 1999, Assistant Secretary of State Stan Roth raised the possibility of “interim
agreements” between Beijing and Taipei, after several prominent former Clinton Administration
officials made similar proposals. Roth’s mention of possible “interim agreements” raised
concerns in Taipei that it was a proposal by the Clinton Administration to pressure Taipei into
69 Department of State, “Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan,” memo, February 2, 2001.
negotiating with Beijing. Roth’s remarks came in the context of suggestions to reduce cross-strait
tensions issued by former or future Clinton Administration officials. In January 1998, a
delegation of former officials led by former Defense Secretary William Perry had visited Beijing
and Taipei, reportedly passing a message from the PRC that it was willing to resume talks with
Taiwan. The February 21, 1998 Washington Post reported that the delegation was part of the
Administration’s effort to have a “track two” dialogue with Beijing and Taipei and to encourage
resumption of cross-strait talks. At a February 1998 conference in Taipei, Kenneth Lieberthal (a
University of Michigan professor who later joined the NSC as the Senior Director for Asian
Affairs in August 1998) had proposed a 50-year “interim arrangement” in which the PRC (as
“China”) would renounce the use of force against Taiwan, and the ROC (as “Taiwan, China”)
would agree not to declare independence (Reuters, March 1, 1998).
In the March 8, 1998 Washington Post, Joseph Nye (former Assistant Secretary of Defense for
International Security Affairs) had proposed a “three-part package” that would include a
clarification that Washington would not recognize or defend Taiwan independence but also would
not accept the use of force against Taiwan, and a “one country, three systems” approach. Also in
March 1998, former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake had visited Taiwan and reportedly
encouraged resumption of cross-strait talks. In Foreign Affairs (July/August 1998), Chas.
Freeman (former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs) had urged
Washington to encourage Beijing and Washington to defer negotiations on their long-term
relationship for a certain period, such as 50 years, and to reevaluate arms sales to Taiwan. In
February-March 1999, Perry had led another delegation, including retired Admiral Joseph
Prueher (later nominated in September 1999 to be ambassador to Beijing), and the group made
suggestions to the PRC and Taiwan on how to reduce cross-strait tensions, according to Notes
from the National Committee (Winter/Spring 1999). Later, on September 5, 1999, Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State Susan Shirk mentioned “one country, three systems” as a possible
approach for “one China,” Taiwan media reported.
In contrast to this stress on dialogue, the George W. Bush Administration started by emphasizing
deterrence and approved Taiwan’s requests for major weapon systems in 2001. In July 2004,
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice did urge leaders in Beijing to resume cross-strait 70
talks and offered a vague U.S. role “to further dialogue if it is helpful.” Although the Bush
Administration repeatedly has stated that Beijing should talk to the duly-elected leaders in Taipei,
the Administration has continued the approach of non-mediation in any talks by those two parties.
In 2005, in answer to Representative Leach about a U.S. role as “facilitator,” Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State Randall Schriver vaguely responded that good U.S. relations with Beijing and
Taipei allow Washington to “assist the two sides in getting to the negotiating table on mutually 71
Lamenting a “graveyard of missed opportunities” in cross-strait ties, a former Chairman of AIT,
Richard Bush, thoroughly assessed this question of possible U.S. roles and concluded that greater
U.S. involvement to encourage direct dialogue makes sense and that the role should be limited to
“intellectual facilitation” to clarify policy stances and objectives of each side. University of
70 Philip Pan, “Rice Rebuffs China on Taiwan Arms Sales,” Washington Post, July 9, 2004.
71 Responses for the record of a hearing on China’s “Anti-Secession Law” and developments across the Taiwan Strait
held by the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, April 6, 2005.
Michigan professor Ken Lieberthal called again for U.S. encouragement of cross-strait 72
negotiation for an agreed framework.
In July 1999, the Clinton Administration’s stance on cross-strait dialogue culminated in the
President’s articulation of a new phrase: that U.S. policy has “three pillars” (one China, peaceful
resolution, and cross-strait dialogue). Recognizing Taiwan’s newly established status as a
democracy, however, President Clinton in February 2000 added the U.S. expectation that the
cross-strait dispute will be resolved not only peacefully, but also “with the assent” of Taiwan’s
The George W. Bush Administration began after Chen Shui-bian of the DPP became ROC
President in May 2000. The Bush Administration indicated that it would not pressure Taipei to
hold cross-strait dialogue, re-emphasizing the “Six Assurances” given to Taipei by President
Reagan in 1982. At a hearing in March 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell assured Senator
Jesse Helms that the “Six Assurances” remained U.S. policy and that the Administration would 73
not favor consulting the PRC on arms sales to Taiwan. On June 12, 2001, Assistant Secretary of
State James Kelly testified to the House International Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and
the Pacific that U.S. defensive arms sales to Taiwan make a peaceful cross-strait resolution more
likely. He said that “the central question is how cross-strait relations can move from a focus on
the military balance toward a focus on ways to begin resolving differences between Taipei and
Beijing.” While calling for a resumption of direct dialogue, economic cooperation, and mutual
understanding, Kelly also said that “the PRC cannot ignore the elected representatives of the
people of Taiwan.” While visiting Taiwan at about the same time that PRC Vice Premier Qian
Qichen signaled a new receptive policy toward the ruling DPP in Taiwan, Richard Bush,
Chairman of AIT, said on January 28, 2002, that “the United States favors and encourages
dialogue but has no intention of serving as a mediator in this dispute or of pressuring Taiwan to
negotiate.” He added that “it does not seem constructive for one side to set pre-conditions for a
resumption of dialogue that the other side even suspects would be tantamount to conceding a
fundamental issue before discussion begins.”
In March 2002, Assistant Secretary of State Kelly told attendees at a conference that the Bush
Administration would continue to uphold the “Six Assurances,” meaning no U.S. mediation and 74
no pressure on Taiwan to go to the bargaining table. In testimony in April 2004, after Chen
Shui-bian’s re-election in the March election, Kelly again reaffirmed the “Six Assurances,” but
explicitly warned that “a secure and self-confident Taiwan is a Taiwan that is more capable of
engaging in political interaction and dialogue with the PRC, and we expect Taiwan will not
interpret our support as a blank check to resist such dialogue.” He urged both Beijing and Taipei 75
to pursue dialogue “as soon as possible” and “without preconditions.”
72 Richard Bush, Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait, Brookings Institution: 2005; Kenneth
Lieberthal, “Preventing a War Over Taiwan,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2005.
73 Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Hearing on U.S. Foreign Policy, March 8, 2001.
74 U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, defense industry conference, St. Petersburg, FL, March 10-12, 2002.
75 House International Relations Committee, hearing on “The Taiwan Relations Act: The Next 25 Years,” April 21,
As enacted on September 30, 2002, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2003 (P.L.
107-228), reaffirmed President Clinton’s February 2000 statement and expressed the sense of
Congress that any resolution of the Taiwan issue must be peaceful and “include the assent of the
people of Taiwan.”
In short, since 1971, U.S. Presidents—both secretly and publicly—have continued to articulate a
“one China” policy in understandings with the PRC. Nonetheless, policymakers have continued to
face unresolved issues, while the political and strategic context of the policy has changed
dramatically since the early 1970s. Since the 1990s, there have been criticisms, especially from
Congress, that successive Administrations shifted the U.S. position closer to that of Beijing’s
“one China” principle—on questions of sovereignty, arms sales, or dialogue. Yet, since the 1990s,
successive Administrations also have shown more explicit opposition—through arms sales, force
deployments, deeper U.S.-Taiwan military ties, and public statements—to PRC efforts to use
force or coercion to determine Taiwan’s future. Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan or
Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as undetermined. U.S.
policy leaves the Taiwan question to be resolved by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait:
peacefully, with the assent of Taiwan’s people, and without unilateral changes. In other words,
U.S. policy focuses on the process of resolution of the Taiwan question, not its outcome.
This approach, however, encounters challenges from Taiwan as it denies being an ambiguous
non-entity and consolidates an independent status. Even as the United States has opposed a
unilateral change from Beijing or Taipei to the status quo, the meaning of “status quo” remains a
question. Moreover, Washington faces increased pressures from Beijing to take steps to oppose
what it perceives as pro-independence moves. There has been no comprehensive policy review
since 1994. Some say that a U.S. strategy is needed to seek positive objectives and promote U.S. 76
security, political, and economic interests in Taiwan. In examining U.S. policy or strategy,
whether through recalibrations or a strategic review, Congress and the Administration face critical
issues under the rubric of the “one China” policy, including:
• How are internal as well as cross-strait political, economic, and military trends
serving or undermining U.S. interests and affecting U.S. leverage over Beijing
• What are probable outcomes (e.g., continued undetermined status of Taiwan,
unification, independence, confederation, commonwealth), and how might U.S.
interests be affected?
• What are the implications of strategies Beijing and Taipei?
• Are policy elements of diplomacy and deterrence balanced?
76 For example, Randall Schriver, “Taiwan Needs Six New Assurances,” Taipei Times, August 22, 2007, and “In
Search of a Strategy,” Taiwan Business Topics, American Chamber of Commerce-Taipei, September 2007.
• Should Washington change any assurances or positions?
• Should U.S. policy positions (support, non-support, opposition) be clarified to
deter provocations from Beijing or Taipei (e.g., on use of force or coercion,
Taipei’s moves toward de jure independence)?
• Should the United States proactively deepen its role (e.g., facilitation, mediation)
to encourage cross-strait dialogue or accommodation? Should a special
envoy/coordinator be appointed?
• How should defense policies (on arms sales, military cooperation, U.S. force
deployments, missile defense) be carried out to increase U.S. leverage in Taiwan,
deter conflict, and counter coercion?
• What is the extent of the U.S. commitment to help Taiwan’s self-defense and the
nature of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship?
• How might the United States be more supportive of Taiwan in its preservation of
international space—distinct from the PRC?
• How well are U.S. policies coordinated with those of our allies, including
European countries, Japan, South Korea, and Australia?
In Part II below, this CRS Report provides excerpts from key statements on “one China” as
articulated by Washington, Beijing, and Taipei, in addition to the three Communiques and the 77
TRA, since the United States first reached understandings with the PRC in 1971. Based on
unclassified sources and interviews, the highlights also give a comprehensive look at significant
statements and contexts in Washington, Beijing, as well as Taipei. This compilation identifies new
elements in the policies of those governments. The statements also include accounts of
presidential assurances. The three perspectives on “one China” are placed in chronological order
under successive U.S. Administrations. The actual texts are placed in italics.
77 Following the ROC government’s retreat to Taiwan in 1949 and the start of the Korean War, the U.S. stance shifted
on sovereignty over Taiwan. On January 5, 1950, President Truman stated that the United States would not get
involved in the civil conflict in China. After the Korean War started, however, President Truman declared on June 27,
1950, that “the determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a
peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations.” (Quoted in Alan Romberg, Rein in at the Brink of
the Precipice, Stimson Center, 2003).
July 9, 1971
Our military presence in Taiwan at this moment is composed of two elements, the two-thirds of it
which is related to activities in other parts of Asia [the Vietnam War] and the one-third of it which
is related to the defense of Taiwan. We are prepared to remove that part related to activities other
than to the defense of Taiwan, that’s two-thirds of our force ... within a specified brief period of
time after the ending of the war in Indochina. We are prepared to begin reducing our other forces
on Taiwan as our relations improve, so that the military questions need not be a principal
obstacle between us. I may say, incidentally, that these are personal decisions of President Nixon
which have not yet been discussed with our bureaucracy or with Congress, and so should be
treated with great confidence.
As for the political future of Taiwan, we are not advocating a “two Chinas” solution or a “one
China, one Taiwan” solution.
[On Zhou Enlai’s question of whether the United States would support the Taiwan independence
movement]: We would not support this.
February 22, 197279
Principle one. There is one China, and Taiwan is a part of China. There will be no more
statements made—if I can control our bureaucracy—to the effect that the status of Taiwan is
78 Holdridge, John, Crossing the Divide: An Insider’s Account of Normalization of U.S.-China Relations (Rowman &
Littlefield Publishers, 1997), p. 90. See also: James Mann, About Face: A History of America’s Curious Relationship
with China, From Nixon to Clinton (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), p. 33 (citing a declassified chronology from
the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by Richard Solomon, U.S.-PRC Political Negotiations, 1967-84, An Annotated
Chronology, December 1985, released to Mann (a Los Angeles Times reporter) under the Freedom of Information Act).
Mann reports that what Kissinger pledged to Zhou went beyond previous U.S. promises and contradicted the official
U.S. position that sovereignty over Taiwan was “an unsettled question subject to future international resolution.” At a
Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on March 25, 1999, Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth also cited
Kissinger’s promise as recorded in the CIA’s chronology in his written response to Senator Helms’ question about
precedents for President Clinton’s June 1998 “Three Noes” statement. Also see Patrick Tyler, A Great Wall (New
York: PublicAffairs, 1999), p. 98. On February 27, 2002, the National Security Archive released declassified copies of
U.S. documents on U.S.-PRC rapprochement in 1970-1971, including transcripts of National Security Adviser Henry
Kissinger’s secret meetings in China. Quotations are from the White House Memorandum, dated July 29, 1971, written
by Winston Lord for Kissinger on his conversations with Zhou on July 9.
79 White House, Memorandum of Conversation, February 22, 1972, 2:10pm-6:00pm. On December 11, 2003, the
National Security Archive, an organization in Washington, D.C., was able to release the declassified Top Secret
Memoranda of Conversation on President Nixon’s meetings in Beijing in February 1972, which led to the Shanghai
Communique. On the American side, only President Nixon, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, and two NSC
staff, John Holdridge and Winston Lord, were in the meetings.
Second, we have not and will not support any Taiwan independence movement.
Third, we will, to the extent we are able, use our influence to discourage Japan from moving into
Taiwan as our presence becomes less, and also discourage Japan from supporting a Taiwan
independence movement. I will only say here I cannot say what Japan will do, but so long as the
U.S. has influence with Japan—we have in this respect the same interests as the Prime Minister’s
government—we do not want Japan moving in on Taiwan and will discourage Japan from doing
The fourth point is that we will support any peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue that can be
worked out. And related to that point, we will not support any military attempts by the
Government on Taiwan to resort to a military return to the Mainland.
Finally, we seek the normalization of relations with the People’s Republic. We know that the issue
of Taiwan is a barrier to complete normalization, but within the framework I have previously
described, we seek normalization and we will work toward that goal and will try to achieve it.
February 24, 197280
With regard to Taiwan, I do not believe a permanent American presence—whatever happens in
our meetings—is necessary to American security.... My goal is the withdrawal of our remaining
forces, not just two-thirds, but all forces, including the remaining one-third.... It must be
consistent with ... the so-called Nixon Doctrine. Under that Doctrine, we are cutting our forces in
Korea.... Two-thirds will go, hopefully as soon as we can finish our Vietnam involvement. My plan
also is one which reduces the one-third and withdraws it during the period I have the power to
act. But I cannot do it before January of next year. It has to be over a period of four years. Now if
someone asks me when I return, do you have a deal with the Prime Minister that you are going to
withdraw all American forces from Taiwan, I will say “no.” But I am telling the Prime Minister 81
that it is my plan....
February 27, 1972
The Chinese reaffirmed its position: The Taiwan question is the crucial question obstructing the
normalization of relations between China and the United States; the Government of the People’s
Republic of China is the sole legal government of China; Taiwan is a province of China which
has long been returned to the motherland; the liberation of Taiwan is China’s internal affair in
which no other country has the right to interfere; and all U.S. forces and military installations
must be withdrawn from Taiwan. The Chinese Government firmly opposes any activities which
aim at the creation of “one China, one Taiwan,” “one China, two governments,” “two Chinas,”
and “independent Taiwan” or advocate that “the status of Taiwan remains to be determined.”
80 White House, Memorandum of Conversation, February 24, 1972, 5:15pm-8:05pm, classified as Top Secret until
release as declassified documents on December 11, 2003.
81 As part of his response, Zhou Enlai remarked to Nixon that “you hope for and will not hinder a peaceful liberation
[of Taiwan].” Nixon did not correct Zhou.
The U.S. side declared: The United States acknowledges82 that all Chinese on either side of the 83
Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United
States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful
settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind, it affirms
the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military installations from Taiwan.
In the meantime, it will progressively reduce its forces and military installations on Taiwan as the
tension in the area diminishes.
November 12, 1973
As for the question of our relations with Taiwan, that is quite complex. I do not believe in a
peaceful transition. ... They are a bunch of counter-revolutionaries [the Nationalists on Taiwan].
How could they cooperate with us? I say that we can do without Taiwan for the time being, and
let it come after “100 years.”
August 12, 1974
To the People’s Republic of China, whose legendary hospitality I enjoyed, I pledge continuity in
our commitment to the principles of the Shanghai communique. The new relationship built on
those principles has demonstrated that it serves serious and objective mutual interests and has
become an enduring feature of the world scene.
82 The Chinese text used “ren shi” (“to acknowledge”). The Chinese term was changed in the 1979 communique to
83 Holdridge (p. 89), then a senior staff member for East Asia at the National Security Council under Henry Kissinger,
wrote that “it was helpful that both the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] and the Kuomintang [(KMT) or Nationalist
Party] regarded Taiwan as part of China, for by accepting this point and affirming our interest in the settlement of the
sovereignty question ‘by the Chinese themselves’ we would affront neither side.” Holdridge (p. 93) also recounted that
the wording of “all Chinese” was originally formulated as “all people,” and the State Department objected to the word
“people,” because some on Taiwan regarded themselves as “Taiwanese” and did not agree that Taiwan was a part of
84 Tyler, p. 172, citing Henry Kissinger, Memorandum of Conversation with Mao Zedong, Chairman Mao’s residence,
November 12, 1973. One year later, in a meeting with Deng Xiaoping in Beijing, Tyler writes that Kissinger stated his
understanding that Mao had said that the leadership would ultimately have to solve the Taiwan question by force and it
could take 100 years. Deng said that “100 years” was symbolic. Kissinger was concerned about a military solution to
the Taiwan question shortly after U.S.-PRC normalization.
85 Public Papers of the Presidents, Gerald Ford, 1974.
December 15, 1978
As of January 1, 1979, the United States of America recognizes the People’s Republic of China as
the sole legal government of China.
In the future, the American people and the people of Taiwan will maintain commercial, cultural
and other relations without official government representation and without diplomatic relations.
The Administration will seek adjustments to our laws and regulations to permit the maintenance
of commercial, cultural, and other non-governmental relationships in the new circumstances that
will exist after normalization. The United States is confident that the people of Taiwan face a
peaceful and prosperous future. The United States continues to have an interest in the peaceful
resolution of the Taiwan issue and expects that the Taiwan issue will be settled peacefully by the 87
December 16, 1978
As is known to all, the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government
of China and Taiwan is a part of China. The question of Taiwan was the crucial issue obstructing
the normalization of relations between China and the United States. It has now been resolved
between the two countries in the spirit of the Shanghai Communique and through their joint
efforts, thus enabling the normalization of relations so ardently desired by the people of the two
countries. As for the way of bringing Taiwan back to the embrace of the motherland and
reunifying the country, it is entirely China’s internal affair.
86 In great secrecy, the Carter White House made its final decision to normalize relations with the PRC. President
Carter, along with National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and his aide, Michel Oksenberg, did not consult
with Congress on the timing and final wording of the communique. Congress was surprised to be informed hours
before the December 15, 1978 announcement. See Patrick Tyler, “The (Ab)normalization of U.S.-Chinese Relations,”
Foreign Affairs, September/October 1999; Cyrus Vance, Hard Choices (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983); Robert
G. Sutter (CRS), “Executive-Legislative Consultations on China Policy, 1978-79,” Foreign Affairs Committee Print,
June 1980. In a speech at Stanford University in honor of Michel Oksenberg on May 6, 2002, Carter said he became
president in 1977 determined to establish full diplomatic relations with China. He said he kept negotiations instructions
to his envoy, Leonard Woodcock, secret from the State Department, and only Secretary of State Cyrus Vance went to
the White House, which sent direct communications to Woodcock.
87 President Carter announced the new policy, despite the International Security Assistance Act (P.L. 95-384) enacted
on September 26, 1978. Congress passed it with Senator Robert Dole’s amendment, saying that it is the sense of
Congress that it be consulted on any proposed policy changes affecting the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty. Senator
Jacob Javits later wrote that the President made his announcement “with only the briefest notice to congressional
leaders,” and regarding the abrogation of the defense treaty, “the President’s action ignored a specific amendment
adopted by the Congress only two months before, in the International Security Assistance Act of 1978, calling for
‘prior consultation’ on ‘any proposed policy changes affecting the continuation in force’ of that treaty.” (“Congress and
Foreign Relations: the Taiwan Relations Act,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 1981).
88 “Statement of the Government of the People’s Republic of China in Connection with the Establishment of China-
U.S. Diplomatic Relations,” printed in Harding.
December 29, 1978
The Republic of China is an independent sovereign state with a legitimately established
government based on the Constitution of the Republic of China. It is an effective government,
which has the wholehearted support of her people. The international status and personality of the
Republic of China cannot be changed merely because of the recognition of the Chinese
Communist regime by any country of the world. The legal status and international personality of
the Republic of China is a simple reality which the United States must recognize and respect.
January 1, 1979
Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times. ... Taiwan’s separation from the
motherland for nearly 30 years has been artificial and against our national interests and
aspirations, and this state of affairs must not be allowed to continue. ...
Unification of China now fits in with the direction of popular feeling and the general trend of
development. The world in general recognizes only one China, with the Government of the
People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government. The recent conclusion of the China-
Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship and the normalization of relations between China and the
United States show still more clearly that no one can stop this trend. ...
We place great hopes on the 17 million people on Taiwan and also the Taiwan authorities. The
Taiwan authorities have always taken a firm stand of one China and opposed an independent
Taiwan. This is our common stand and the basis for our cooperation. ...
The Chinese Government has ordered the People’s Liberation Army [PLA] to stop the
bombardment of Quemoy and other islands as of today. A state of military confrontation between
the two sides still exists along the Taiwan Strait. This can only create artificial tension. We hold
that first of all this military confrontation should be ended through discussion between the
Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Taiwan authorities so as to create the
necessary prerequisites and a secure environment for the two sides to make contacts and
exchanges in whatever area. ...
89 “President Chiang Ching-kuo’s Five Principles on U.S.-ROC Relations in the Post-Normalization Period,” December
29, 1978, printed in Martin L. Lasater, The Taiwan Issue in Sino-American Strategic Relations (Boulder: Westview
Press, 1984). Lasater notes that Chiang informed U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher that future U.S.-
ROC ties must rest on five underlying principles of reality, continuity, security, legality, and governmentality. The
statement was summarized by James Soong, Deputy-Director of the ROC’s Government Information Office.
90 “Text of NPC Standing Committee Message to Taiwan Compatriots,” New China News Agency, December 31, 1978,
in FBIS, January 2, 1979. This policy of “unification” replaced the earlier one of “liberation” of Taiwan. The PRC later
elaborated on this policy of peaceful unification in Marshal Ye Jianying’s “Nine-Point Proposal” of September 30,
January 1, 1979
The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the
sole legal Government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States will maintain
cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.
The Government of the United States of America acknowledges91 the Chinese92 position that there
is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
Enacted April 10, 1979
Section 2(b) It is the policy of the United States
(1) to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other
relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people 93
on the China mainland and all other peoples of the Western Pacific area;
(2) to declare that peace and stability in the area are in the political, security, and economic
interests of the United States, and are matters of international concern;
(3) to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the
People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be
determined by peaceful means;
(4) to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means,
including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area 94
and of grave concern to the United States;
91 In the Chinese text, the word for “acknowledge” is “cheng ren” (recognize), a change from “ren shi” (acknowledge),
used in the 1972 Shanghai Communique. During debate on the TRA in February 1979, Senator Jacob Javits noted the
difference and said that “it is very important that we not subscribe to [the Chinese position on one China] either way.”
Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher responded that “we regard the English text as being the binding text. We
regard the word ‘acknowledge’ as being the word that is determinative for the U.S.” (Wolff and Simon, p. 310-311).
92 Instead of the phrase “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait” in the 1972 Shanghai communique, the 1979
Normalization communique used “the Chinese position” (in the English text) and “China’s position” (in the Chinese
93 A key issue for Congress was to consider the character of the relationship with Taiwan. While the “Normalization
Communique” and the Administration called for “unofficial” U.S. relations with Taiwan, Members objected to the use
of that word. Congress omitted any adjective for the relationship and AIT, and the TRA does not specify the
relationship as official or unofficial. In discussing the legislative history of the unprecedented law, Senator Jacob Javits
wrote that “no one really knew what the limits of ‘officiality’ were.” (“Congress and Foreign Relations: the Taiwan
Relations Act,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 1981).
94 On this language in the TRA, the House report and statements of key Members of Congress (such as Rep. Zablocki,
chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) clarified the expectation that there would be a “prompt response”
by the United States to a use of force against Taiwan, but the TRA would not specify in advance what the situation or
response might be. Members also stated the expectation that the President would promptly inform Congress of
(5) to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character; and
(6) to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of
coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on 95
Sec. 3(a) In furtherance of the policy set forth in section 2 of this Act, the United States will make
available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be
necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.
(b) The President and the Congress shall determine the nature and quantity of such defense
articles and services based solely upon their judgment of the needs of Taiwan, in accordance with
procedures established by law. Such determination of Taiwan’s defense needs shall include review
by United States military authorities in connection with recommendations to the President and the
(c) The President is directed to inform the Congress promptly of any threat to the security or the
social or economic system of the people on Taiwan and any danger to the interests of the United
States arising therefrom. The President and the Congress shall determine, in accordance with
constitutional processes, appropriate action by the United States in response to any such danger.
Sec. 4(b)(1) Whenever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations,
states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with 96
respect to Taiwan.
Sec. 15(2) The term “Taiwan” includes, as the context may require, the islands of Taiwan and the 97
Pescadores, the people on those islands, corporations and other entities and associations
anticipated dangers to Taiwan, and the President and the Congress would both determine the appropriate U.S. response
according to the Constitution. Some Members, such as Rep. Dodd, considered the language on “grave concern” to be
“strong” and “unambiguous,” but Rep. Quayle noted that “of grave concern” is a “very ambiguous term we read every
day in the newspapers.” Thus, he added language that became section 2(b)(6) of the TRA. (Wolff and Simon, p. 77-91).
95 Senator Jacob Javits wrote that Members of Congress debated the appropriate characterization of U.S. concern for
Taiwan’s security. Congress “did not seek to reconstruct a defense agreement with Taiwan,” and majorities in the
House and Senate agreed with the Administration in opposing Senator Charles Percy’s amendment to characterize
“coercion” against Taiwan as a threat to the “security interests” of the United States, because such language would
“unnecessarily convey an intention to reenact the security agreement itself, thus violating one of the understandings
with Beijing.” Nonetheless, Javits wrote that Congress legislated a broad definition of the threats that Taiwan could
face, going beyond language for resisting “armed attacks” generally put into defense treaties. He was “particularly
concerned with other dangers which in fact seemed more realistic than an outright invasion from across the straits.”
(“Congress and Foreign Relations: the Taiwan Relations Act,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 1981).
96 According to an author of the language, Section 4(B)(1) treats Taiwan as a state for purposes of domestic U.S. laws,
and without it, the United States could not sell Taiwan weapons or enriched uranium for nuclear power reactors, for
example. See: Harvey Feldman, “President Reagan’s Six Assurances to Taiwan and Their Meaning Today,” Heritage
Foundation, October 2, 2007.
97 Congress considered the security implications for the United States of whether the definition of “Taiwan” includes
the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu (only several miles off the mainland coast). The House report (p. 16) on the
TRA noted that the definitions are “illustrative, not limiting.” Nonetheless, Rep. Zablocki (chairman of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee) explained that his committee had excluded Quemoy and Matsu from the definition. He
pointed out that these islands had been “deliberately left out of the mutual defense treaty,” and “we should not be
expanding the U.S. security commitment beyond what was in the treaty.” He noted that “Quemoy and Matsu are
considered by both Taipei and by Peking to be part of mainland China.” He concluded that “as far as the reference in
created or organized under the laws applied on those islands, and the governing authorities on
Taiwan recognized by the United States as the Republic of China prior to January 1, 1979, and
any successor governing authorities (including political subdivisions, agencies, and
September 30, 1981
Now, I would take this opportunity to elaborate on the policy concerning the return of Taiwan to
the motherland for the realization of peaceful unification [proclaimed on New Year’s Day 1979]:
1. In order to bring an end to the unfortunate separation of the Chinese nation as early as
possible, we propose that talks be held between the Communist Party of China and the
Kuomintang [Nationalist Party] of China on a reciprocal basis so that the two parties will
cooperate for the third time to accomplish the great cause of national unification. The two
sides may first send people to meet for an exhaustive exchange of views.
2. It is the urgent desire of the people of all nationalities on both sides of the strait to
communicate with each other, reunite with their relatives, develop trade and increase mutual
understanding. We propose that the two sides make arrangements to facilitate the exchange of
mail, trade, air and shipping services, and visits by relatives and tourists as well as academic,
cultural, and sports exchanges, and reach an agreement thereupon.
3. After the country is reunified, Taiwan can enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special
administration region, and it can retain its armed forces. The central government will not
interfere with local affairs in Taiwan.
4. Taiwan’s current socio-economic system will remain unchanged, so will its way of life and its
economic and cultural relations with foreign countries. There will be no encroachment on the
proprietary rights and lawful right of inheritance over private property, houses, land and
enterprises, or on foreign investments.
5. People in authority and representative personages of various circles in Taiwan may take up
posts of leadership in national political bodies and participate in running the state.
the committee report is concerned, it does not extend our security commitment in its referral to Quemoy and Matsu.”
(Wolff and Simon, p. 282-283.)
98 “Ye Jianying Explains Policy Concerning Return of Taiwan to Motherland and Peaceful Unification,” Xinhua [New
China News Agency], September 30, 1981, in FBIS. According to the Chinese report, Ye spoke as the Chairman of the
Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (the PRC’s legislature). However, Ye enjoyed significant
stature in the Chinese leadership largely because he was a Marshal, the highest rank in the PLA. Harding (p. 113, 155)
wrote that Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang later described the plan to President Reagan at a meeting in Cancun in
October 1981, seeking reductions in and an end to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
6. When Taiwan’s local finance is in difficulty, the central government may subsidize it as is fit for
7. For people of all nationalities and public figures of various circles in Taiwan who wish to come
and settle on the mainland, it is guaranteed that proper arrangements will be made for them,
that there will be no discrimination against them, and that they will have the freedom of entry
8. Industrialists and businessmen in Taiwan are welcome to invest and engage in various
economic undertakings on the mainland, and their legal rights, interests, and profits are
9. The unification of the motherland is the responsibility of all Chinese. We sincerely welcome
people of all nationalities, public figures of all circles, and all mass organizations in Taiwan to
make proposals and suggestions regarding affairs of state through various channels and in
Taiwan’s return to the embrace of the motherland and the accomplishment of the great cause of
national unification is a great and glorious mission history has bequeathed on our generation. ...
We hope that the Kuomintang authorities will stick to their one-China position and their
opposition to “two Chinas” and that they will put national interests above everything else, forget
previous ill will and join hands with us in accomplishing the great cause of national unification
and the great goal of making China prosperous and strong, so as to win glory for our ancestors,
bring benefit to our posterity, and write a new and glorious page in the history of the Chinese
April 5, 1982
Clearly, the Taiwan issue had been a most difficult problem between our governments. ... The
United States firmly adheres to the positions agreed upon in the Joint Communique on the
establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China. There is only one
China. We will not permit the unofficial relations between the American people and the people of
Taiwan to weaken our commitment to this principle.
99 Printed in Lasater.
July 14, 1982
In negotiating the third Joint Communique with the PRC, the United States:
July 26, 1982
I want to point out that this decision [on a joint communique] is based on a PRC decision only to
use peaceful means to resolve the Taiwan issue. On this point, the U.S. will not only pay attention
to what the PRC says, but also will use all methods to achieve surveillance of PRC military
production and military deployment. The intelligence attained would be brought to your attention.
If there is any change with regard to their commitment to peaceful solution of the Taiwan issue,
the U.S. commitments would become invalidated.
100 Based on the public version of Six Assurances as agreed by Reagan Administration in: “ROC Statement on the
August 17 Communique,” August 17, 1982. A slightly different version of the Six Assurances was reported by Steve
Lohr, “Taiwan Expresses Regret Over Communique,” New York Times, August 18, 1982. Also see Alan Romberg,
Rein In At the Brink of the Precipice (Stimson Center, 2003). James Lilley, as Director of AIT, conveyed the Six
Assurances in the form of a blind memo with no letterhead or signature to President Chiang Ching-kuo through ROC
Vice Foreign Minister Fredrick Chien, who translated them. Lilley explained that the Six Assurances were a sign to
Taiwan that it was not being abandoned by the Reagan Administration. (James Lilley, China Hands, Public Affairs,
2004.) Chien wrote his translated version in Chinese in Chien Fu’s Memoirs, Volume II (Taipei, 2005). He wrote the
fifth assurance as “the United States cannot support the PRC’s position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.” Also:
author’s interview, June 2007.
101 Feldman, Harvey, “Reagan’s Commitment to Taiwan: the Real Meaning of the Taiwan Communique,” Washington
Times, April 24, 2001; “Taiwan, Arms Sales, and the Reagan Assurances,” American Asian Review, Fall 2001.
According to Feldman, James Lilley, Director of AIT, delivered a “non-paper” from President Reagan to ROC
President Chiang Ching-kuo, which included this clarification of U.S. commitments. Lilley delivered this message in
addition to the “Six Assurances” given on July 14, 1982. Feldman noted to CRS that he obtained the wording from
Chien Fu, then the ROC’s Vice Foreign Minister, who translated from a Chinese translation of an English text.
August 17, 1982103
In the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations on January 1, 1979,
issued by the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the People’s
Republic of China, the United States of America recognized the Government of the People’s
Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and it acknowledged the Chinese 104
position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
The question of United States arms sales to Taiwan was not settled in the course of negotiations
between the two countries on establishing diplomatic relations.
The Chinese government reiterates that the question of Taiwan is China’s internal affair. The
Message to the Compatriots in Taiwan issued by China on January 1, 1979, promulgated a
fundamental policy of striving for peaceful unification of the Motherland. The Nine-Point
Proposal put forward by China on September 30, 1981 represented a further major effort under
this fundamental policy to strive for a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question.
The United States Government attaches great importance to its relations with China, and
reiterates that it has no intention of infringing on Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, or
interfering in China’s internal affairs, or pursuing a policy of “two Chinas” or “one China, one 105
Taiwan.” The United States Government understands and appreciates the Chinese policy of
striving for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question as indicated in China’s Message to
Compatriots in Taiwan issued on January 1, 1979 and the Nine-Point Proposal put forward by
China on September 30, 1981. The new situation which has emerged with regard to the Taiwan
question also provides favorable conditions for the settlement of United States-China differences
over the question of United States arms sales to Taiwan.
Having in mind the foregoing statements of both sides, the United States Government states that it
does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to
Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in
102 Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Ronald Reagan. Also, in The Reagan Diaries (published in
2007), President Reagan wrote in his entry for August 17, 1982, that “Press and TV with a leak from State Dept. has
gone crazy declaring our joint communique with P.R.C. of China is a betrayal of Taiwan. Truth is we are standing with
Taiwan and the P.R.C. made all the concessions.”
103 The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Separation of Powers held hearings on September 17 and 27, 1982, and
subsequently communicated with the State Department to investigate “apparent conflicts” between the Reagan
Administration’s 1982 Communique and the TRA, and to seek clarifications on policy toward Taiwan from Secretary
of State George Shultz. He answered that “a determination of Taiwan’s defense needs and of the sufficiency of its self-
defense capability requires an assessment of the nature of the military threat confronting it. This necessarily requires an
assessment of the military capacity of the PRC and its policy towards Taiwan.” Among extensive responses, Shultz
also replied that U.S. arms sales do not violate China’s sovereignty; that the United States takes no position on the
question of Taiwan’s sovereignty; and that the communique is not an international agreement.
104 The Chinese text says that the United States “recognized” (“cheng ren”) “China’s” (“zhongguo de”) position,
repeating the formulation of the 1979 communique.
105 In response to a question at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing of March 25, 1999, Assistant Secretary
of State Stanley Roth cited this phrase as a precedent for President Clinton’s June 1998 statement in China that the
United States does not support Taiwan independence, as part of the “Three Noes.”
recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China,
and that it intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time
to a final resolution. In so stating, the United States acknowledges China’s consistent position 106
regarding the thorough settlement of this issue.
August 17, 1982
Regarding future U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, our policy, set forth clearly in the communique
[issued on the same day], 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 communique 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. The position of the United States Government has always been clear
and consistent in this regard. The Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese people, on both
sides of the Taiwan Strait, to resolve. We will not interfere in this matter or prejudice the free
choice of, or put pressure on, the people of Taiwan in this matter. At the same time, we have an
abiding interest and concern that any resolution be peaceful. I shall never waver from this
The U.S. willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned absolutely upon the
continued commitment of China to the peaceful solution of the Taiwan-PRC differences. It should
be clearly understood that the linkage between these two matters is a permanent imperative of
U.S. foreign policy. In addition, it is essential that the quantity and quality of the arms provided
Taiwan be conditioned entirely on the threat posed by the PRC. Both in quantitative and
qualitative terms, Taiwan’s defense capability relative to that of the PRC will be maintained.
106 U.S. arms sales to Taiwan was an unresolved issue. James Lilley wrote that President Reagan refused to end arms
sales, while he agreed to concede a limit on such sales. The final wording vaguely referred to a “final resolution” of the
issue. (See James Lilley, China Hands, Public Affairs: 2004.) Later, Congress passed the Foreign Relations
Authorization Act for FY1994 and FY1995 (P.L. 103-236, enacted on April 30, 1994), affirming that Sec. 3 of the
TRA (on arms sales) takes primacy over policy statements (1982 Joint Communique), among other stipulations.
107 “Statement on United States Arms Sales to Taiwan,” August 17, 1982, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United
States, Ronald Reagan.
108 First publicly disclosed by James Mann, in About Face (Alfred Knopf, 1999). According to Mann, President
Reagan’s secret memorandum (on the August 17, 1982 communique) clarified U.S. policy as maintaining the military
balance between the PRC and Taiwan. A version of the text, as provided by an unnamed former U.S. official, was
published in Robert Kaiser, “What We Said, What They Said, What’s Unsaid,” Washington Post, April 15, 2001.
According to Alan Romberg’s Rein In at the Brink of the Precipice (Stimson Center, 2003), Charles Hill, then
Executive Secretary of the State Department, confirmed that Secretary of State George Shultz was told by President
Reagan that his intention was to solidify the stress on a peaceful resolution and the importance of maintaining the
cross-strait military balance for that objective. Reagan also intended his written clarification to reassure Republicans in
Congress, such as Senator Jesse Helms, that Taiwan would not be disadvantaged by the communique. Partial text of the
memo was published by James Lilley, in China Hands (Public Affairs, 2004).
August 17, 1982
In the joint communique, the Chinese Government reiterates in clear-cut terms its position that
“the question of Taiwan is China’s internal affair.” The U.S. side also indicates that it has no
intention of infringing on Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, or interfering in China’s
internal affairs, or pursuing a policy of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.”
August 18, 1982
[On the August 17, 1982, communique], let me recapitulate and emphasize a few key features;
then I’ll take your questions. First, the document must be read as a whole, since the policies it
sets forth are interrelated [original emphasis].
Second, as I have previously noted, the communique contains a strong Chinese statement that its
fundamental policy is to seek to resolve the Taiwan question by peaceful means (Para 4)
[original emphasis]. ...
Third, the U.S. statements concerning future arms sales to Taiwan (Para 6) are based on
China’s statements as to its fundamental peaceful policy for seeking a resolution to the Taiwan
question and on the “new situation” created by those statements (Para 5) [original emphasis]. ...
Fourth, we did not agree to set a date certain for ending arms sales to Taiwan and the
statements of future U.S. arms sales policy embodied in the Communique do not provide either a
time frame for reductions of U.S. arms sales or for their termination. ...We see no mediation role
for the U.S. nor will we attempt to exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with the
PRC. ... There has been no change in our long-standing position on the issue of sovereignty
over Taiwan. The communique (Para 1) in its opening paragraph simply cites that portion of the
joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the P.R.C. in
which the U.S. “acknowledged the Chinese position on this issue” (i.e., that there is but one
China and Taiwan is a part of China). ... It has been reported in the press that the Chinese at one
point suggested that the Taiwan Relations Act be revised. We have no plans to seek any such
revisions. ... [Para 9] should not be read to imply that we have agreed to engage in prior
consultations with Beijing on arms sales to Taiwan. [original emphasis]
110 U.S. House, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hearing on China-Taiwan: United States Policy, “Prepared Statement of
John H. Holdridge, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs,” August 18, 1982.
February 22, 1984
There are many disputes in the world that always require solutions. I have had the belief for many
years that, no matter what solutions are used to solve these problems, don’t use means of war, but
use peaceful ways. Our proposal for unification between the mainland and Taiwan is fair and
reasonable. After unification, Taiwan will still be allowed to engage in its capitalism, while the
mainland implements socialism, but there will be one unified China. One China, two systems. The 112
Hong Kong problem will also be treated the same: one China, two systems.
February 25, 1989
We remain firmly committed to the principles set forth in those three joint communiques that form
the basis of our relationship. And based on the bedrock principle that there is but one China, we
have found ways to address Taiwan constructively without rancor. We Americans have a long,
historical friendship with Chinese people everywhere. In the last few years, we’ve seen an
encouraging expansion of family contacts and travel and indirect trade and other forms of
peaceful interchange across the Taiwan Strait, reflecting the interests of the Chinese people
themselves. And this trend, this new environment, is consistent with America’s present and
longstanding interest in a peaceful resolution of the differences by the Chinese themselves.
111 Deng’s talk on “A New Way to Stabilize the World Situation,” translated from Deng Xiaoping Lun Guofang He
Jundui Jianshe [Deng Xiaoping Discusses National Defense and Military Construction], Junshi Kexue Chubanshe
[Military Science Press], May 1992. During PRC-British talks on the future of Hong Kong, Deng conveyed his
proposal for a “one country, two systems” formula in a meeting with former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew
Brzezinski, who visited China as part of a delegation from Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and
International Studies. The meeting and Deng’s decision of “effecting two systems within one country” was reported in
Wen Wei Po (a PRC newspaper in Hong Kong), February 24, 1984; translated in FBIS, February 28, 1984. Deng’s
formula has been often translated as “one country, two systems,” rather than “one China, two systems.”
112 Mann (p. 153-154) writes that after the conclusion of negotiations over Hong Kong, Deng launched a secret,
intensive effort to settle with the Reagan Administration on the future of Taiwan. When British Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher signed the Hong Kong agreement in December 1984, Deng passed a message through her to
Reagan, asking that the same formula of “one country, two systems” be applied to Taiwan. However, the message was
not conveyed, but some Americans lobbied for the proposal. In the end, the Administration decided not to settle on
113 Public Papers of the Presidents, George Bush.
March 14, 1991
[Unification is] to establish a democratic, free, and equitably prosperous China. ... It should be
achieved in gradual phases under the principles of reason, peace, parity, and reciprocity. ... [In
the short term,] to enhance understanding through exchanges between the two sides of the Strait
and eliminate hostility through reciprocity; and to establish a mutually benign relationship by not
endangering each other’s security and stability while in the midst of exchanges and not denying
the other’s existence as a political entity while in the midst of effecting reciprocity.
August 1, 1992
Both sides of the Taiwan Strait agree that there is only one China. However, the two sides of the
Strait have different opinions as to the meaning of “one China.” To Peking, “one China” means
the “People’s Republic of China (PRC),” with Taiwan to become a “Special Administration
Region” after unification. Taipei, on the other hand, considers “one China” to mean the Republic
of China (ROC), founded in 1911 and with de jure sovereignty over all of China. The ROC,
however, currently has jurisdiction only over Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu. Taiwan is part
of China, and the Chinese mainland is part of China as well.
September 2, 1992
I’m announcing this afternoon that I will authorize the sale to Taiwan of 150 F-16A/B aircraft,
made right here in Fort Worth. ... This sale of F-16s to Taiwan will help maintain peace and
stability in an area of great concern to us, the Asia-Pacific region, in conformity with our law. In
the last few years, after decades of confrontation, great strides have been made in reducing
tensions between Taipei and Beijing. During this period, the United States has provided Taiwan
with sufficient defensive capabilities to sustain the confidence it needs to reduce those tensions.
That same sense of security has underpinned Taiwan’s dramatic evolution toward democracy.
114 Text published in: Mainland Affairs Council, Executive Yuan, Republic of China, “Consensus Formed at the
National Development Conference on Cross-Strait Relations,” February 1997. The Guidelines were adopted by the
National Unification Council on February 23, 1991, and by the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) on March 14, 1991. These
guidelines asserted the principle of “one China, two political entities,” recognized the PRC’s jurisdiction over the
mainland, and called for eventual unification on the basis on “parity” between the two sides. Then, on May 1, 1991,
Taiwan terminated the 1948 National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion, thus ending the civil
war against the Communists and recognizing the political authority of the PRC on the mainland.
115 Text published in: Mainland Affairs Council, Executive Yuan, Republic of China, “Consensus Formed at the
National Development Conference on Cross-Strait Relations,” February 1997. “The Meaning of ‘One China’” was
adopted by the National Unification Council.
116 Remarks to General Dynamics Employees in Fort Worth, Texas, September 2, 1992, Administration of George
Bush, 1992 (Public Papers of the Presidents). In addition to this arms sale decision, the Bush Administration also broke
new ground in high-level exchanges with Taiwan. In Taiwan from November 30-December 3, 1992, U.S. Trade
Representative Carla Hills was the first U.S. cabinet official to visit since de-recognition in 1979.
My decision today does not change the commitment of this Administration and its predecessors to
the three communiques with the People’s Republic of China. We keep our word: our one-China
policy, our recognition of the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China. I’ve always
stressed that the importance of the 1982 communique on arms sales to Taiwan lies in its
promotion of common political goals: peace and stability in the area through mutual restraint.
November 3, 1992
Taipei’s SEF: On November 3, a responsible person of the Communist Chinese ARATS said that it
is willing to “respect and accept” SEF’s proposal that each side “verbally states” its respective 118
principles on “one China.”
Beijing’s ARATS: At this working-level consultation in Hong Kong, SEF representatives
suggested that each side use respective verbal announcements to state the one China principle. rd
On November 3, SEF sent a letter, formally notifying that “each side will make respective
statements through verbal announcements.” ARATS fully respects and accepts SEF’s 119
117 Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and Taipei’s Strait Exchange Foundation
(SEF) met semi-officially in Hong Kong, October 28-30, 1992. Years later, it became a semantic dispute. The PRC and
KMT in Taiwan have argued that the two sides reached a “1992 Consensus.” The DPP and President Chen Shui-bian
have disagreed. On August 28, 2001, AIT Director Raymond Burghardt said that the two sides had exchanged faxes
which constituted an agreement to hold talks, adding “I’m not sure why you could call that a consensus. I call it an
agreement.” In his National Day address of October 10, 2004, Chen suggested that the 1992 “meeting” be the basis to
118 Press release in Chinese by the SEF, Taipei, November 3, 1992, printed in a book by a KMT politician: Su Chi, The
Historical Record of the Consensus of “One China, Different Interpretations” (Taipei: National Policy Foundation,
2002). Also reported in “Strait Group Agrees to State Positions ‘Orally’,” Central News Agency, Taipei, November 18,
119 Renmin Ribao [People’s Daily], Beijing, November 6, 1992. ARATS sent a letter to the SEF on November 16,
1992, reiterating this agreement. The letter also stated that “both sides of the strait support the one China principle and
seek national unification. However, negotiations on routine matters across the strait do not involve the political
meaning of ‘one China’.” The letter in Chinese is printed in a book by a KMT politician: Su Chi, The Historical Record
of the Consensus of “One China, Different Interpretations” (Taipei: National Policy Foundation, 2002). Also reported
in Renmin Ribao, November 21, 1992.
March 15, 1993121
We advocate that both sides hold talks as soon as possible on bringing hostility between the two
sides of the Taiwan Strait to an end and gradually fulfilling peaceful unification. ... The forces
advocating Taiwan independence on and off the island have resurged in recent years. Certain
international forces have also deliberately created obstacles to impede China’s peaceful
unification. They cannot but arouse serious concern by the Chinese Government and all the
Chinese people. We are resolutely opposed to any form of two China’s or one China and one
Taiwan; and we will take all necessary drastic measures to stop any activities aimed at making
Taiwan independent and splitting the motherland.
April 27-29, 1993
PRC (Wang Daohan): There are many questions that need to be solved because contacts between
the two sides of the strait began only after a separation of more than 40 years. We have said
repeatedly that as long as both sides sit down to talk, we can discuss any question. Proper
methods for solving problems will be found as long as the two organizations observe the spirit of
mutual respect, consult on equal footing, seek truth from facts, and seek common ground while 123
Taiwan (Koo Chen-fu): There exist not only the same geographical, historical, and cultural
origins between the two sides, but also a “blood is thicker than water” sentiment shared by our
people. President Lee Teng-hui’s proclamation that: “Taiwan’s relationship with the entire 124
Chinese people cannot be severed” could not have said it more clearly.
120 PRC Premier Li Peng, Government Work Report to the First Session of the 8th National People’s Congress, Beijing,
Central Television Program, March 15, 1993; translated in FBIS, March 15, 1993. According to analysis by FBIS
Trends (March 31, 1993), by saying “both sides” (not the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party), Li changed the
formulation in his report from previous years, signaling greater PRC concern about pro-independence activities in
Taiwan and urgency to hold unification talks, “as soon as possible.” The analysis also noted that, when warning of “all
necessary drastic measures,” Li echoed the “unusually harsh language” used by General Secretary Jiang Zemin in
December 1992. According to Beijing Review (January 4-10, 1993), Jiang warned that Beijing would take “resolute
measures” to prevent Taiwan independence, while reiterating a policy of peaceful unification.
121 PRC concern apparently increased after the first fully democratic legislative election was held in Taiwan on
December 19, 1992. The ruling Nationalist Party won 96 out of 161 seats, while the Democratic Progressive Party
(DPP) gained 50 seats. The DPP has advocated a “Republic of Taiwan,” instead of “Republic of China.”
122 Mainland Chinese and Taiwan authorities held their first talks and signed their first agreements since 1949.
Represented by “authorized nongovernmental organizations,” the PRC’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan
Strait (ARATS) and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) met in Singapore and agreed to institutionalize
contacts. ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan and SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu agreed that the talks were not political, but
were nongovernmental, economic, practical, and functional.
123 Xinhua (New China News Agency), Beijing, April 27, 1993, translated in FBIS, April 27, 1993.
124 Dr. Koo’s Arrival Address at Singapore Airport, April 26, 1993, “A Resume of the Koo-Wang Talks,” Straits
Taiwan: The subjects discussed in the Koo-Wang Talks were planned by the government in accord
with the goals of the short-term phase in the Guidelines for National Unification. ... The Koo-
Wang Talks were obviously in no way political. ... During the talks, SEF delegates steadfastly
upheld the principle of parity in such matters as meeting procedures, conference site, seating, as
well as the topics and scope of discussion. This made it impossible for the other side to slight the 125
fact that the ROC is an equal political entity.
[In 1991], we accepted the fact that the nation was divided and that, prior to the unification of
China, the political authority of both the ROC government and the Chinese communists exist.
Both the ROC government and the Chinese communists exercise political authority in the areas
under their de facto control. Each is entitled to represent the residents of the territory under its de
facto control and to participate in the activities of the international community. ... It is now the
fixed policy and goal of the government and the opposition parties in the ROC to participate in
the United Nations. ...
August 31, 1993
There is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and the seat of
China’s central government is in Beijing. This is a universally recognized fact as well as the
premise for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question. The Chinese government is firmly
against any words or deeds designed to split China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It
opposes “two Chinas,” “one China, one Taiwan,” “one country, two governments,” or any
Exchange Foundation, December 1993.
125 Mainland Affairs Council, ROC, “Our Views on the Koo-Wang Talks,” May 1993.
126 Jason Hu, Director of the ROC’s Government Information Office, “The Case For Taipei’s U.N. Representation,”
speech at the Atlantic Council on September 17, 1993. Hu said that Taiwan’s bid was submitted in a letter sent by
seven South American countries to the U.N. Secretary General on August 6, 1993. He said that the bid was flexible on
the name to use at the U.N. See also: Fredrick F. Chien (ROC Foreign Minister), “UN Should Welcome Taiwan,” Far
Eastern Economic Review, August 5, 1993; “Divided China in the United Nations: Time for Parallel Representation” nd
(advertisement), New York Times, September 17, 1993; and “Republic of China on Taiwan Observes 82 Anniversary:
New Goals Include Participation in the United Nations” (advertisement), Washington Post, October 7, 1993.
127 On April 27-29, 1993, the landmark “Koo-Wang” talks had been held in Singapore between Koo Chen-fu (chairman
of Taiwan’s Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF)) and Wang Daohan (chairman of the PRC’s Association for Relations
Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS)), the first meeting between the heads of the two organs set up for cross-strait
dialogue. Later in 1993, according to Mann (p. 290), the State Department drafted a policy review to restore high-level
dialogue with Beijing and submitted it to the White House in July 1993. As part of the new policy of engagement
toward China, President Clinton invited PRC President Jiang Zemin to attend the first summit of leaders in the Asia
Pacific Economic (APEC) Forum in Seattle, Washington, in November 1993. The Far Eastern Economic Review
(October 7, 1993) reported that Taipei was concerned that Washington agreed with Beijing that Taiwan, despite its
status in APEC equal to other members, would not be represented by Lee Teng-hui, but by Vincent Siew, head of
128 “The Taiwan Question and the Unification of China,” Xinhua [New China News Agency], August 31, 1993,
translated in FBIS, September 1, 1993.
attempt or act that could lead to “independence of Taiwan.” The Chinese people on both sides of
the strait all believe that there is only one China and espouse national unification. Taiwan’s status
as an inalienable part of China has been determined and cannot be changed. “Self-
determination” for Taiwan is out of the question.
Peaceful unification is a set policy of the Chinese Government. However, any sovereign state is
entitled to use any means it deems necessary, including military ones, to uphold its sovereignty
and territorial integrity. The Chinese Government is under no obligation to undertake any
commitment to any foreign power or people intending to split China as to what means it might
use to handle its own domestic affairs.
It should be pointed out that the Taiwan question is purely an internal affair of China and bears
no analogy to the cases of Germany and Korea which were brought about as a result of
international accords at the end of the Second World War.
July 5, 1994
It is an incontrovertible historical fact that the ROC has always been an independent sovereign
state in the international community since its founding in 1912. However, relations between the
two sides of the Taiwan Strait are not those between two separate countries, neither are they
purely domestic in nature. In order to ensure that cross-strait relations develop toward benign
interaction, the ROC government has formulated the concept of a “political entity” to serve as
the basis of interaction between the two sides. The term “political entity” has extensive meaning,
it can refer to a country, a government, or a political organization. At the current stage of cross-
Strait interaction, only when we set aside the “sovereignty dispute” will we untie the knots that
have bound us for more than the past 40 years and progress smoothly toward unification. ...
The ROC Government is firm in its advocacy of “one China” and is opposed to “two Chinas” or
“one China, one Taiwan.” But at the same time, given that division and divided rule on the two
sides of the Taiwan Strait is a long-standing political fact, the ROC Government also holds that
the two sides should be fully aware that each has jurisdiction over its respective territory and that
they should coexist as two legal entities in the international arena. As for their relationship with
each other, it is that of two separate areas of one China and is therefore “domestic” or
“Chinese” in nature. ...
The ROC Government takes “one China, two equal political entities” as the structure for
handling cross-strait relations and hopes that cross-strait relations will develop in the direction of
being peaceful, pragmatic, and sensible. .. The CPC [Communist Party of China] should dismiss
any misgivings it has concerning the ROC Government’s determination to achieve unification.
What the CPC authorities should give urgent consideration to is how, given the fact that the
country is divided under two separate governments, we can actively create favorable conditions
for unification and gradually bring the two different “political entities” together to form “one
China.” ... At the same time, the Chinese people cannot strive for unification just for the sake of
unification; instead, unification should be realized under a reasonable and benign political,
129 Mainland Affairs Council, Executive Yuan (Cabinet), Republic of China, “Explanation of Relations Across the
Taiwan Strait,” July 5, 1994, translated in FBIS, July 11, 1994.
economic, and social system and way of living. Therefore, we hold that the two sides of the strait
should go all out to build a democratic, free, equally wealthy, and united China. ...
September 7, 1994131
U.S. policy toward Taiwan is governed, of course, by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. Three
communiques with the People’s Republic of China (the Shanghai Communique of 1972, the
Normalization Communique of 1979, and the Joint Communique of 1982) also constitute part of
the foundation. In the joint communique shifting diplomatic relations to the PRC 15 years ago,
the United States recognized “the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal
Government of China.” The document further states that “Within this context, the people of the
United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of
Taiwan.” The United States also acknowledged “the Chinese position that there is but one China
and Taiwan is part of China.” These formulations were repeated in the 1982 communique. Since
The policy has been essential in maintaining peace, stability, and economic development on both
sides of the Taiwan Strait and throughout the region. ... We have made absolutely clear our
expectation that cross-strait relations will evolve in a peaceful manner. We neither interfere in nor
mediate this process. But we welcome any evolution in relations between Taipei and Beijing that
is mutually agreed upon and peacefully reached. ...
In the end, it is only the two parties themselves, Taiwan and the PRC, that will be able to resolve
the issues between them. In this regard, the United States applauds the continuing progress in
cross-strait dialogue. ...
130 Announced on September 7, 1994 and described in the Clinton Administration’s only public statement on the
Taiwan Policy Review, which was given by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Winston
Lord, “Taiwan Policy Review,” Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, September 27, 1994 (in
U.S. Department of State Dispatch, October 17, 1994). Lord noted that “the lengthy, detailed inter-agency policy
review that we have conducted is the first of its kind launched by any Administration of either political party since we
shifted recognition to Beijing in 1979.” While opposing legislation to specifically allow visits by top leaders of Taiwan,
the Administration decided to send high-level economic and technical officials to visit Taiwan, establish a sub-cabinet
level economic dialogue with Taiwan, allow Taiwan’s office in the United States to change its name to Taipei
Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), and support Taiwan’s membership in international
organizations where statehood is not a requirement and Taiwan’s voice to be heard in organizations where its
membership is not allowed.
131 The review came after the Congress passed and the President signed (on April 30, 1994) the Foreign Relations
Authorization Act for FY1994 and FY1995 (P.L. 103-236) which directed the State Department to register foreign-
born Taiwanese-Americans as U.S. citizens born in Taiwan (rather than China); called for the President to send
Cabinet-level officials to Taiwan and to show clear U.S. support for Taiwan in bilateral and multilateral relationships;
and declared that Sec. 3 of the TRA (on arms sales) takes primacy over statements of U.S. policy (the 1982
communique). In addition, in May 1994, the State Department had allowed Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui to make a
refueling stop in Hawaii but denied him a visa to enter the United States. In response, the Senate, from July to October,
passed amendments introduced by Senator Brown to ensure that Taiwan’s President can enter the United States on
certain occasions. Two amendments (for S. 2182 and H.R. 4606) that passed were not retained, but the amendment to
the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994 was enacted. Upon signing the bill into law (P.L.
103-416) on October 25, 1994, President Clinton, nonetheless, said that he would construe Sec. 221 as expressing
We will continue to provide material and training to Taiwan to enable it to maintain a sufficient
self-defense capability, as mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act. ...
Within this framework, the President has decided to enhance our unofficial ties with Taiwan. ...
the Administration strongly opposes Congressional attempts to legislate visits by top leaders of
the “Republic of China” to the U.S. ...
Recognizing Taiwan’s important role in transnational issues, we will support its membership in
organizations where statehood is not a prerequisite, and will support opportunities for Taiwan’s
voice to be heard in organizations where its membership is not possible.
We do not seek and cannot impose a resolution of differences between Taiwan and the People’s
Republic of China. Nor should we permit one to manipulate us against the other.
January 30, 1995
1. We must firmly oppose any words or actions aimed at creating an “independent Taiwan” and
the propositions “split the country and rule under separate regimes,” two Chinas over a
certain period of time,” etc., which are in contravention of the principle of one China.
2. We do not challenge the development of non-governmental economic and cultural ties by
Taiwan with other countries. ... However, we oppose Taiwan’s activities in “expanding its living
space internationally,” which are aimed at creating “two Chinas” or “one China, one
3. It has been our consistent stand to hold negotiations with the Taiwan authorities on the
peaceful unification of the motherland. ... I suggest that, as the first step, negotiations should
be held and an agreement reached on officially ending the state of hostility between the two
sides in accordance with the principle that there is only one China. ...
4. We should strive for the peaceful unification of the motherland, since Chinese should not fight
fellow Chinese. Our not undertaking to give up the use of force is not directed against our
compatriots in Taiwan but against the schemes of foreign forces to interfere with China’s
unification and to bring about the “independence of Taiwan.” ...
5. Great efforts should be made to expand the economic exchanges and cooperation between the
two sides of the Taiwan Strait...
6. People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should inherit and carry forward the fine traditions of
132 Jiang Zemin, “Continue to Promote the Unification of the Motherland,” January 30, 1995. As part of the context of
his speech, Jiang looked to the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, signed between China and Japan on
April 17, 1895, which ceded Taiwan to Japan as a colony until the end of World War Two. Jiang also cited the transfer
of control to the PRC of Hong Kong in 1997 and Macau in 1999, and said that “now it is high time to accomplish the
unification of the motherland.”
7. The 21 million compatriots in Taiwan, whether born there or in other provinces, are all
Chinese... We also hope that all political parties in Taiwan will adopt a sensible, forward-
looking, and constructive attitude and promote the expansion of relations between the two
8. Leaders of Taiwan authorities are welcome to pay visits in appropriate capacities. We are also
ready to accept invitations from the Taiwan side to visit Taiwan. ... The affairs of the Chinese
people should be handled by ourselves, something that does not take an international occasion
to accomplish. ...
April 8, 1995
1. The fact that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have been ruled by two political entities in no
way subordinate to each other had led to a state of division between the two sides and separate
governmental jurisdictions, hence, the issue of national unification. ... Only by facing up to this
reality can both sides build greater consensus on the “one China” issue and at the earliest
2. In Taiwan, we have long taken upon ourselves the responsibility for safeguarding and
furthering traditional Chinese culture, and advocate that culture be the basis for exchanges
between both sides to help promote the nationalistic sentiment for living together in prosperity
and to foster a strong sense of brotherliness. ...
3. We will continue to assist the mainland in developing its economy and upgrading the living
standards of its people based upon our existing investments and trade relations. As for trade and
transportation links with the mainland, the agencies concerned have to make in-depth evaluations
as well as careful plans since these are very complicated issues. ...
4. I have indicated on several occasions that if leaders on both sides could meet with each other
on international occasions in a natural manner, this would alleviate the political confrontation
between both sides and foster a harmonious atmosphere for developing future relations. ... It is
our firm belief that the more international organizations both sides join on an equal footing, the
more favorable the environment will become for the growth of bilateral relations and for the
process of peaceful unification. ...
5. We believe the mainland authorities should demonstrate their goodwill by publicly renouncing
the use of force and refrain from making any military move that might arouse anxiety or suspicion
on this side of the Taiwan Strait, thus paving the way for formal negotiations between both sides
to put an end to the state of hostility. ...
6. Hong Kong and Macau are integral parts of the Chinese nation ... Post-1997 Hong Kong and
post-1999 Macau are naturally a matter of great concern to us. In this regard, the ROC
government has reiterated its determination to maintain normal contact with Hong Kong and
Macau, further participate in affairs related to Hong Kong and Macau, and provide better
services to our compatriots there. ...
133 Lee Teng-hui, “Address to the National Unification Council,” April 8, 1995.
May 22, 1995
President Clinton has decided to permit Lee Teng-hui to make a private visit to the United States
in June for the express purpose of participating in an alumni reunion event at Cornell University,
as a distinguished alumnus. The action follows a revision of Administration guidelines to permit
occasional private visits by senior leaders of Taiwan, including President Lee.
President Lee will visit the U.S. in a strictly private capacity and will not undertake any official
activities. It is important to reiterate that this is not an official visit. The granting of a visa in this
case is consistent with U.S. policy of maintaining only unofficial relations with Taiwan. It does
not convey any change in our relations with or policies towards the People’s Republic of China,
with which we maintain official relations and recognize as the sole legal government of China.
We will continue to abide by the three communiques that form the basis of our relations with
China. The United States also acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China, and
Taiwan is a part of China. ...
At a meeting in Brunei in August 1995, Secretary of State Warren Christopher reportedly
delivered a letter from President Clinton to Chinese President Jiang Zemin. In the letter, which
has not been made public, Clinton is said to have assured Jiang that the United States would (1)
“oppose” Taiwan independence; (2) would not support “two Chinas,” or one China and one
Taiwan; and (3) would not support Taiwan’s admission to the United Nations.
134 Department of State’s announcement by spokesperson, Nicholas Burns, May 22, 1995. Congress’ view was an
important factor acknowledged by the Administration in its reversal of policy to grant the visa. Congress had
overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan H.Con.Res. 53 expressing the sense of Congress that the President should
promptly welcome a visit by Lee Teng-hui to his alma mater, Cornell University, and a transit stop in Anchorage,
Alaska, to attend a conference. The House passed the resolution by 396-0 on May 2, and the Senate passed it by 97-1
on May 9, 1995. Some analysts believe that another factor was the contrast posed by the Administration’s March 1995
decision to grant visits to Gerry Adams (leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA)), to
the United States, including meetings with Clinton in the White House—despite objections from London.
135 Garver, p. 79; Mann, p. 330. These promises apparently formed the basis for the Administration’s later public
statements issued in 1997 and 1998, including one by President Clinton in China, that became known as the “Three
Noes.” However, “opposing” Taiwan independence was changed to a more neutral stance of “not supporting” it.
Clinton’s letter was sent after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched its first test-firing of M-9 short-range
ballistic missiles toward Taiwan in July 1995, as part of the PRC’s reaction to Lee Teng-hui’s visit to Cornell
University in June 1995.
March 14, 1996
Our fundamental interest on the Taiwan question is that peace and stability be maintained and
that the PRC and Taiwan work out their differences peacefully. At the same time, we will strictly
avoid interfering as the two sides pursue peaceful resolution of differences.
The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979 forms the legal basis of U.S. policy regarding the
security of Taiwan. ... However serious, the present situation does not constitute a threat to
Taiwan of the magnitude contemplated by the drafters of the Taiwan Relations Act. The PRC
pressure against Taiwan to date does not add up to a “threat to the security or the social or
economic system” of Taiwan. ...We will continue to work closely with you, and if warranted by
circumstances, we will act under Section 3(c) of the TRA, in close consultation with the Congress.
Overall U.S. China policy, including the Taiwan question, is expressed in the three joint
communiques with the PRC as follows:
—The United States recognizes the Government of the PRC as “the sole legal Government of
—The U.S. acknowledges the Chinese position that “there is but one China and Taiwan is part of
China.” In 1982, the U.S. assured the PRC that it has no intention of pursuing a policy of “two
Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.”
—Within this context, the people of the U.S. will maintain cultural, commercial, and other
unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.
—The U.S. has consistently held that resolution of the Taiwan issue is a matter to be worked out
peacefully by the Chinese themselves.
April 17, 1996
Clinton: Yes, we discussed Taiwan and China extensively, as well as the recent tension in the
strait. It is obvious that our partnership is designed to try to preserve the peace for all peoples in
136 Department of State, Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Testimony
before the House International Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, March 14, 1996. The PRC
followed its July 1995 missile test-firings with more military exercises and additional missile test-firings in March
1996—to intimidate voters in Taiwan on the eve of their first democratic presidential election. After introduction of
H.Con.Res. 148 on March 7, 1996, the Clinton Administration announced on March 10 and 11 the decisions to deploy
two carrier battle groups east of Taiwan to underscore the American commitment to regional peace and stability.
However, the Administration did not agree with Congress on the need to formally consult with Congress on the U.S.
response to the PLA actions, under Section 3(c) of the TRA.
137 “The President’s News Conference with Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan in Tokyo,” April 17, 1996,
Public Papers of United States Presidents, William Clinton. The two leaders issued a Joint Declaration on Security to
strengthen the alliance.
this region. And I believe that I can say we both agree that, while the United States clearly
observes the so-called one China policy, we also observe the other aspects of the agreement we
made many years ago, which include a commitment on the part of both parties to resolve all their
differences in a peaceable manner. And we have encouraged them to pursue that. Therefore, we
were concerned about those actions in the Taiwan Strait.
May 17, 1996
Since 1972, the foundation for deepening engagement between our nations has been the “one
China” policy that is embodied in the three joint communiques between the United States and the
People’s Republic of China. ...
The United States strongly believes that resolution of the issues between the PRC and Taiwan
must be peaceful. We were gravely concerned when China’s military exercises two months ago
raised tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Our deployment of naval forces to the region was meant to
avert any dangerous miscalculations. We are encouraged that both sides have now taken steps to
On the eve of the inauguration next Monday of Taiwan’s first democratically elected President, it
is timely to reflect on the enduring value of our “one China” policy for both the PRC and Taiwan
and on our common interest and responsibility to uphold it. I want to tell you publicly today what
we have been saying privately to the leaders in Beijing and Taipei in recent weeks.
To the leadership in Beijing, we have reiterated our consistent position that the future relationship
between Taiwan and the PRC must be resolved directly between them. But we have reaffirmed
that we have a strong interest in the region’s continued peace and stability and that our “one
China” policy is predicated on the PRC’s pursuit of a peaceful resolution of issues between Taipei
To the leadership in Taiwan, we have reiterated our commitment to robust unofficial relations,
including helping Taiwan maintain a sufficient self-defense capacity under the terms of the
Taiwan Relations Act. We have stressed that Taiwan has prospered under the “one China” policy.
And we have made clear our view that as Taiwan seeks an international role, it should pursue
that objective in a way that is consistent with a “one China” policy.
We have emphasized to both sides the importance of avoiding provocative actions or unilateral
measures that would alter the status quo or pose a threat to peaceful resolution of outstanding
138 Department of State, “American Interests and the U.S.-China Relationship,” Address by Secretary of State Warren
Christopher to the Asia Society, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Committee on U.S.-China
Relations, New York, May 17, 1996. Christopher ended with a signal of President Clinton’s new willingness to hold
regular summits with the PRC President. Then in July 1996, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake traveled to China
to pursue the “strategic dialogue.” Briefing reporters on July 3, 1996, a National Security Council official said Lake
was scheduled to meet Wang Daohan, chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), in
order to do “what we can there to advance the resumption and to promote the resumption of cross-strait dialogue and to
reinforce our position that the differences between Taiwan and China need to be resolved peacefully.” This item on
Lake’s agenda signaled a new, proactive U.S. stance on cross-strait relations and raised questions in Beijing and Taipei
of U.S. involvement. The meeting was canceled after Lake’s arrival in China.
issues. And we have strongly urged both sides to resume the cross-strait dialogue that was
interrupted last summer.
May 20, 1996
The Republic of China has always been a sovereign state. Disputes across the Strait center
around system and lifestyle; they have nothing to do with ethnic or cultural identity. Here in this
country, it is totally unnecessary or impossible to adopt the so-called course of “Taiwan
independence.” For over 40 years, the two sides of the Strait have been two separate jurisdictions
due to various historical factors, but it is also true that both sides pursue eventual national
December 23-28, 1996
The Republic of China has been a sovereign state since 1912. Following the establishment of the
Chinese communist regime in 1949, both sides of the Taiwan Strait became co-equal political
The development of relations with the mainland must be based on safeguarding the survival and
development of the Republic of China. ...
The Republic of China is a sovereign state that must actively promote foreign relations and raise
its profile at international activities in its pursuit of national survival and development. Taiwan is
not a part of the “People’s Republic of China,” and the ROC government opposes dealing with
the cross-strait issue through the “one country, two systems” scheme.
The government should reduce the possibility of confrontation with the mainland by establishing
sound mainland policies, and should actively make use of regional and global security and
cooperation mechanisms to assure the security of Taiwan.
At this point, ROC accession to such international bodies as the World Trade Organization, the
International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, should continue to be actively pursued.
139 “The President [Lee Teng-hui’s] Inaugural Speech (Excerpt),”May 20, 1996, printed in Consensus Formed at the
National Development Conference on Cross-Strait Relations, Mainland Affairs Council, Executive Yuan, Republic of
China, February 1997. With a tense military environment brought by China’s military exercises that included missile
test-firings, Lee Teng-hui won a landslide victory of 54 percent of the votes in Taiwan’s first democratic presidential
election on March 23, 1996. Pro-independence candidate Peng Ming-min received 21 percent, and pro-unification Lin
Yang-kang won 15 percent of the votes.
140 Consensus Formed at the National Development Conference on Cross-Strait Relations, Mainland Affairs Council,
Executive Yuan, Republic of China, February 1997. Also see CRS Report 97-268, Taiwan’s National Development
Conference: Proposed Policy Changes and Implications for the United States, by Robert G. Sutter, February 24, 1997.
Called by President Lee Teng-hui in his inaugural speech in May 1996, delegates from the three major political parties
(Nationalist Party, Democratic Progressive Party, and New China Party) attended the conference. The conference took
place as Taiwan looked to the transfer of Hong Kong as a British colony to a Special Administration Region of the
PRC in July 1997.
ROC admission to the United Nations should be actively pursued as a long-term objective
through flexible responses to changes in the international situation.
October 29, 1997
A key to Asia’s stability is a peaceful and prosperous relationship between the People’s Republic
of China and Taiwan. I reiterated America’s longstanding commitment to a one China policy. It
has allowed democracy to flourish in Taiwan and provides a framework in which all three
relationships can prosper—between the United States and the PRC, the United States and Taiwan,
and Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. I told President Jiang that we hope the People’s
Republic and Taiwan would resume a constructive cross-strait dialogue and expand cross-strait
exchanges. Ultimately, the relationship between the PRC and Taiwan is for the Chinese 141
themselves to determine—peacefully.
First of all, I think the most important thing the United States can do to facilitate a peaceful
resolution of the differences is to adhere strictly to the one China policy we have agreed on, to
make it clear that within the context of that one China policy, as articulated in the communiques
and our own laws, we will maintain friendly, open relations with the people of Taiwan and China;
but that we understand that this issue has to be resolved and resolved peacefully, and that if it is
resolved in a satisfactory way, consistent with statements made in the past, then Asia will be
stronger and more stable and more prosperous. That is good for the United States. And our own
relations with China will move on to another stage of success. I think the more we can encourage
that, the better off we are. But I think in the end, since so much investment and contact has gone
on in the last few years between Taiwan and China, I think the Chinese people know how to
resolve this when the time is right, and we just have to keep saying we hope the time will be right 142
as soon as possible. Sooner is better than later.
October 29, 1997
China stresses that the Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive central question in
China-U.S. relations, and that the proper handling of this question in strict compliance with the
principles set forth in the three China-U.S. joint communiques holds the key to sound and stable
growth of China-U.S. relations. The United States reiterates that it adheres to its “one China”
policy and the principles set forth in the three U.S.-China joint communiques.
141 President Clinton’s opening statement, Press Conference by President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin, Old
Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C., October 29, 1997.
142 President Clinton’s answer to a question about whether he sees any U.S. role in securing a permanent peaceful
environment in the Taiwan Strait (after reference to U.S. roles in brokering peace in Bosnia and the Middle East), Press
Conference by President Clinton and President Jiang Zemin, Old Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.,
October 29, 1997.
143 White House, “Joint U.S.-China Statement,” October 29, 1997. In preparing for the summit, the PRC desired to
have a “fourth communique” with further U.S. assurances on Taiwan. Also, Mann wrote that the PRC wanted the joint
statement to make public the “Three Noes” that President Clinton had promised President Jiang in a private letter in
1995. The Joint Statement did not mention the TRA.
October 31, 1997
We certainly made clear that we have a one-China policy; that we don’t support a one-China,
one-Taiwan policy. We don’t support a two-China policy. We don’t support Taiwan independence,
and we don’t support Taiwanese membership in organizations that require you to be a member
state. We certainly made that very clear to the Chinese.
June 27, 1998
President Jiang: The Taiwan question is the most important and the most sensitive issue at the
core of China-U.S. relations. We hope that the U.S. side will adhere to the principles set forth in
the three China-U.S. joint communiques and the joint China-U.S. statement, as well as the
relevant commitments it has made in the interest of a smooth growth of China-U.S. relations.
President Clinton: I reaffirmed our longstanding one China policy to President Jiang and urged
the pursuit of cross-strait discussions recently resumed as the best path to a peaceful resolution.
In a similar vein, I urged President Jiang to assume a dialogue with the Dalai Lama in return for
the recognition that Tibet is a part of China and in recognition of the unique cultural and
religious heritage of that region.
144 Department of State, Press Briefing by James Rubin, October 31, 1997. For the first time, the Administration
publicly stated the “Three Noes,” which were not put in writing in the U.S.-China Joint Statement. Rubin made that
statement in response to a question about specific assurances on Taiwan that President Clinton gave to President Jiang
during the 1997 summit. Clinton reportedly had passed a secret letter to Jiang in August 1995 with an earlier version of
the “Three Noes.”
145 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Press Availability by President Clinton and President Jiang,” Beijing,
PRC, June 27, 1998.
June 30, 1998147
I had a chance to reiterate our Taiwan policy, which is that we don’t support independence for
Taiwan, or two Chinas, or one Taiwan-one China. And we don’t believe that Taiwan should be a
member in any organization for which statehood is a requirement. So I think we have a consistent
policy. Our only policy has been that we think it has to be done peacefully. That is what our law
says, and we have encouraged the cross-strait dialogue. And I think eventually it will bear fruit if
everyone is patient and works hard.
August 3, 1998
The path to a democratic China must begin with a recognition of the present reality by both sides
of the Taiwan Strait. And that reality is that China is divided, just as Germany and Vietnam were
in the past and as Korea is today. Hence, there is no “one China” now. We hope for this outcome
in the future, but presently it does not exist. Today, there is only “one divided China,” with
Taiwan and the mainland each being part of China. Because neither has jurisdiction over the
other, neither can represent the other, much less all of China.
146 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President and the First Lady in Discussion on Shaping
China for the 21st Century,” Shanghai, China, June 30, 1998. The Administration maintains that the “Three Noes”
represented no change in U.S. policy. Nonetheless, President Clinton chose to issue this statement verbally and at an
informal “roundtable discussion,” rather than at the summit in Beijing with President Jiang on June 27, 1998. In
testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 25, 1999, Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth
cited Kissinger’s 1971 promise as the origins of U.S. policy of non-support for Taiwan’s independence and argued that
President Clinton’s June 1998 “Three Noes” statement represented no change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan.
147 On the eve of President Clinton’s trip to China, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Susan Shirk testified before the
House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on May 20, 1998, stating that “there will be no
fourth communique; nor will our relationship with Taiwan be diluted or sacrificed in any way.” Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense Kurt Campbell also assured Congress that “there will be no fourth communique and there will be
no document that harms Taiwan’s interest.” The House, on June 9, 1998, passed (411-0) H.Con.Res. 270 (Solomon),
resolving that it is the sense of Congress that “the United States abides by all previous understandings of a ‘one China’
policy and its abiding interest in a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Strait issue.” The House also resolved that the
President should seek at the summit a public renunciation by the PRC of any use of force or threat to use force against
Taiwan. After the President stated the “Three Noes” in China, the Senate passed (92-0) S.Con.Res. 107 (Lott) on July
10, 1998, affirming its expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means, but did not include
language on the people of both sides of the strait determining their own future. The House, on July 20, 1998, passed
(390-1) H.Con.Res. 301 (DeLay) affirming its expectation that the “future status of Taiwan will be determined by
peaceful means, and that the people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait should determine their own future...” Also see
CRS Report 98-837, Taiwan: The “Three No’s,” Congressional-Administration Differences, and U.S. Policy Issues, by
Robert G. Sutter, October 1, 1998.
148 Lee Teng-hui, “U.S. Can’t Ignore Taiwan,” Wall Street Journal, August 3, 1998.
October 14, 1998
Taiwan: It has been nearly 50 years since the two sides of the Taiwan Strait became two equal
entities under divided rule and not subordinate to each other. A “divided China” is not only a 150
historical fact, but also a political reality.
Taiwan: China’s unification hinges upon the democratization of the Chinese mainland. Only when
the Chinese mainland has achieved democracy can the two sides of the Taiwan Strait talk about 151
PRC: Mr. Wang said that Taiwan’s political status can be discussed under the one China
principle. On this point, both Mr. Jiang Zemin and Mr. Qian Qichen had similar comments to the
effect that anything can be put on the table under the one China principle. Therefore, on the
question of one China, this will be our consistent stand before the two sides across the strait are
reunified: there is only one China across the strait, Taiwan is part of China, and Chinese
sovereignty and territorial integrity are indivisible. ... Now, the Government of the People’s
Republic of China is universally acknowledged internationally as the only legitimate government
representing China. In spite of this, the two sides should still negotiate on equal footing under the
principle that there is but one China. The issue of whether the talks are between central or local 152
authorities can be left aside.
March 24, 1999
Insisting on peaceful resolution of differences between the PRC and Taiwan will remain U.S.
policy in the future just as surely as it has been our policy over the past twenty years. Our belief,
which we have stated repeatedly, is that dialogue between the PRC and Taiwan fosters an
atmosphere in which tensions are reduced, misperceptions can be clarified, and common ground
can be explored. The exchange of visits under the SEF/ARATS framework, currently rich in
149 ARATS and SEF agreed on a four-point common understanding: (hold all kinds of dialogue, including political and
economic dialogue; strengthen exchanges, including those at all levels; strengthen mutual assistance in cases involving
lives and property; acceptance of an invitation for Wang Daohan to visit Taiwan at an appropriate time), according to
Xinhua Hong Kong Service, October 15, 1998, in FBIS.
150 Koo Chen-fu, “Key Points From Remarks Made at a Meeting with ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan,” Shanghai,
October 14, 1998 (issued by SEF, Republic of China).
151 Opening remarks of Taiwan’s SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu at a press conference after his meeting with PRC
President Jiang Zemin in Beijing, October 18, 1998.
152 Statement of Tang Shubei, executive vice chairman of the PRC’s ARATS, denying inconsistency between
comments of ARATS chairman Wang Daohan and Vice Premier Qian Qichen, “Tang Shubei Explains ‘One China’
Principle,” Zhongguo Xinwen She (China News Agency), Beijing, October 18, 1998; translated in FBIS.
153 Stanley O. Roth, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, “The Taiwan Relations Act at
Twenty—and Beyond,” address to the Woodrow Wilson Center and the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington,
DC, March 24, 1999. On the next day, Roth testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on U.S.-Taiwan
relations, but he did not discuss the possibility of cross-strait “interim agreements.” He also assured the committee that
“the future of cross-strait relations is a matter for Beijing and Taipei to resolve. No Administration has taken a position
on how or when they should do so.”
symbolism but still nascent in substance, has the potential to contribute to the peaceful resolution
of difficult substantive differences.
Clearly, this will not be easy, but this Administration has great confidence in the creativity of the
people of Taiwan and the people of the mainland, working together, to identify the necessary
human contacts and the most comfortable processes to give the dialogue real meaning. Using a
phrase that has garnered much favor in Washington of late, I could imagine that “out of the box”
thinking within this dialogue might contribute to interim agreements, perhaps in combination
with specific confidence building measures, on any number of difficult topics. But, as the U.S. has
steadfastly held, we will avoid interfering as the two sides pursue peaceful resolution of
differences, because it is only the participants on both sides of the strait that can craft the specific
solutions which balance their interests while addressing their most pressing concerns.
July 9, 1999155
The fact that disregarding the reality that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are under separate
administrations of different governments, the Chinese communist authorities have been
threatening us with force is actually the main reason why cross-strait ties cannot be improved
thoroughly. ... Since the PRC’s establishment, the Chinese communists have never ruled Taiwan,
Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu, which have been under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China. ...
Since our constitutional reform in 1991, we have designated cross-strait ties as nation-to-nation,
or at least as special state-to-state ties, rather than internal ties within “one China” between a
legitimate government and a rebellion group, or between central and local governments. ...
July 21, 1999
Clinton [on whether the United States is obligated to defend Taiwan militarily if it abandons the
one China policy and would continue to provide military aid if Taiwan pursues separatism]: Well,
let me say first of all, a lot of those questions are governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, which we
intend to honor. Our policy is clear: We favor the one China policy; we favor the cross-strait
dialogues. The understanding we have had all along with both China and Taiwan is that the
differences between them would be resolved peacefully. If that were not to be the case, under the
Taiwan Relations Act we would be required to view it with the gravest concern. ...
154 President Lee Teng-hui’s interview with the Voice of Germany, Taipei, July 9, 1999, reported in Chung-Yang Jih-
Pao, July 10, 1999, in FBIS. Lee was responding to a question about Beijing viewing Taiwan as a “renegade province.”
Some observers note that Lee may have specifically chosen German media, because Germany was once a divided
155 Three days later, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Su Chi added that “While we continue to show our
goodwill, Mainland China continues to tighten its ‘one China principle.’ Therefore, it is unnecessary for us to stick to
our previous position. We shall clearly define equal footing in order to usher in better cross-strait relations toward the
next century.” From: “MAC Chairman Su Chi at July 12, 1999 Press Conference,” Taipei Speaks Up: Special State-to-
State Relationship, Republic of China’s Policy Documents, Mainland Affairs Council, Executive Yuan, Republic of
China, August 1999.
156 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Press Conference by the President,” Washington, DC, July 21, 1999.
Clinton [on delaying a Pentagon delegation’s visit to Taiwan]: I didn’t think this was the best time
to do something which might excite either one side or the other and imply that a military solution
is an acceptable alternative. If you really think about what’s at stake here, it would be
unthinkable. And I want—I don’t want to depart from any of the three pillars. I think we need to
stay with one China; I think we need to stay with the dialogue; and I think that no one should
contemplate force here.
August 1, 1999
President Lee’s remarks concerning the nature of the cross-strait relationship were based on the
necessity of protecting national interests and dignity. From the political, historical, and legal
perspectives, he merely clarified an existing fact. He by no means twisted or exaggerated the
truth, nor did he exclude the goal of unifying both sides of the Strait as a new, democratic China.
Taiwan and the Chinese mainland have always differed in their definition of “one China.” Thus,
in 1992, ... the two sides eventually reached an agreement on “one China, with each side being
entitled to its respective interpretation.” ... However, Beijing has unilaterally abandoned this
agreement in recent years. ... In the framework of the 1992 agreement, whereby each side is
entitled to its respective interpretation, we have always maintained that the “one China” concept
refers to the future rather than the present. The two sides are not yet unified, but are equals, ruled
separately. We both exist concurrently. Therefore, the two sides can be defined as sharing a
“special state-to-state relationship,” prior to unification. ...
September 11, 1999159
Clinton [on his message concerning Taiwan]: My message is that our policy has not and will not
change. We favor one China. We favor a peaceful approach to working out the differences. We
favor the cross-strait dialogue. Our policy has not changed and it will not change.
Jiang [on whether the PRC will maintain its threat to use military force against Taiwan]: Our
policy on Taiwan is a consistent one. That is, one, peaceful unification, one country-two systems.
157 “Parity, Peace, and Win-Win: The Republic of China’s Position on the ‘Special State-to-State Relationship’,”
Mainland Affairs Council, Executive Yuan, Republic of China, August 1, 1999.
158 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President and President Jiang Zemin of the People’s
Republic of China in Photo Opportunity,” Auckland, New Zealand, September 11, 1999. In a press briefing just after
President Clinton’s meeting with Jiang, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger said that Clinton told Jiang that if he
were to resort to military force, “there would be grave consequences in the United States.” Berger said Clinton also
stated that U.S. policy would continue “as it has been since the presidency of Richard Nixon,” to be based on the “three
fundamental pillars” of the one China policy, a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, and the cross-strait dialogue.
159 A few days, later, on September 15, 1999, the United States spoke out, for the first time, against the ROC’s bid for
re-entering the United Nations, reported Reuters. Previously, the United States remained outside the debate on whether
to place the issue of the ROC’s membership on the General Assembly’s agenda. This year, an unnamed U.S. official
was quoted: “we wanted to make clear that our ‘one-China’ policy is unchanged.” The annual outcome, since Taiwan’s
effort began in 1993, has been a failure to get the issue of its membership on the agenda.
However, if there were to be any foreign intervention, or if there were to be Taiwan independence,
then we would not undertake to renounce the use of force.
February 21, 2000161
On October 1, 1949, the Central People’s Government of the PRC was proclaimed, replacing the
government of the Republic of China to become the only legal government of the whole of China
and its sole legal representative in the international arena, thereby bringing the historical status
of the Republic of China to an end. ... so the government of the PRC naturally should fully enjoy
and exercise China’s sovereignty, including its sovereignty over Taiwan. ...
The Chinese government is actively and sincerely striving for peaceful unification. To achieve
peaceful unification, the Chinese government has appealed time and again for cross-strait
negotiations on the basis of equality and the One China principle. ... The Chinese government has
also proposed that dialogue (that includes political dialogue) may start first, which may
gradually move on to procedural consultations for political negotiation (to resolve issues for
formal negotiation, such as the name, topics for discussion, and format), then political
negotiation may begin. Political negotiation may be carried out step-by-step. ...
However, since the early 1990s, Lee Teng-hui has gradually deviated from the One China
principle... In military affairs, the Taiwan authorities have bought large quantities of advanced
weapons from foreign countries and sought to join the TMD system, attempting to covertly
establish certain forms of military alliance with the United States and Japan. ...
Facts prove that a serious crisis still exists in the situation of the Taiwan Strait. To safeguard the
interests of the entire Chinese people, including compatriots in Taiwan, and maintain the peace
and development of the Asia-Pacific region, the Chinese government remains firm in adhering to
“peaceful unification, one country/two systems;” upholding the eight propositions put forward by
President Jiang Zemin for the development of cross-strait relations and the acceleration of the
peaceful unification of China; and doing its utmost to achieve the objective of peaceful
160 The PRC’s Taiwan Affairs Office and Information Office of the State Council, “The One China Principle and the
Taiwan Issue,” February 21, 2000, the English version as published by Xinhua [New China News Agency] and
translated in FBIS, and the Chinese version as published by People’s Daily Online.
161 The PRC issued this white paper just after a U.S. delegation left Beijing. The delegation included Deputy National
Security Advisor James Steinberg, Under Secretary of Defense Walter Slocombe, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff General Joseph Ralston, and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who were given no indication that the
white paper would be issued. The white paper was also issued on the eve of Taiwan’s presidential election scheduled
for March 18, 2000, with the possibility that Chen Shui-bian would win. Moreover, the House had passed (341-70)
H.R. 1838, “the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act,” on February 1, 2000, which was still pending in the Senate and
opposed by Beijing and the Clinton Administration. News reports also said that Taipei and Washington were discussing
Taiwan’s possible procurement of Aegis-equipped destroyers, missile defense systems, and other advanced U.S.
weapons, leading to annual arms sales talks in April. In his response to the PRC’s White Paper on Taiwan,
Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe, who just returned from Beijing, warned on February 22 that the PRC
would face “incalculable consequences” if it used force against Taiwan as the White Paper threatened (Washington
Post, February 23, 2000). On the same day, Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth testified to the Senate Foreign
Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs that “the threat of the use of force to resolve the Taiwan
question is contrary to the commitments contained in the communiques that are the bedrock of U.S. policy.” In his
comments about the White Paper, Roth also reiterated the Administration’s “three principles” (peaceful resolution,
cross-strait dialogue, and one China).
unification. However, if a grave turn of events occurs leading to the separation of Taiwan from 162
China in any name, or if there is foreign invasion and occupation of Taiwan, or if Taiwan
authorities indefinitely refuse to peacefully resolve the cross-strait unification problem through
negotiations, then the Chinese government will only be forced to adopt all possible drastic
measures, including the use of force, to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,
and fulfill the great cause of China’s unification. ...
Countries maintaining diplomatic relations with China must not sell arms to Taiwan or enter into
any forms of military alliance with Taiwan ... or help Taiwan to produce weapons. ...
February 24, 2000
We’ll continue to reject the use of force as a means to resolve the Taiwan question. We’ll also
continue to make absolutely clear that the issues between Beijing and Taiwan must be resolved
peacefully and with the assent of the people of Taiwan.
May 20, 2000165
Today, as the Cold War has ended, it is time for the two sides to cast aside the hostilities left from
the old era. We do not need to wait further because now is a new opportunity for the two sides to
create an era of reconciliation together.
The people across the Taiwan Strait share the same ancestral, cultural, and historical
background. While upholding the principles of democracy and parity, building upon the existing
foundations, and constructing conditions for cooperation through goodwill, we believe that the
leaders on both sides possess enough wisdom and creativity to jointly deal with the question of a
future “one China.”
I fully understand that as the popularly elected 10th-term President of the Republic of China, I
must abide by the Constitution, maintain the sovereignty, dignity, and security of our country, and
ensure the well-being of all citizens. Therefore, as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use
military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare
independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push forth the inclusion of the so-
162 This second phrase can be interpreted to mean U.S. involvement in Taiwan’s defense.
163 Remarks by the President to the Business Council, February 24, 2000. Later, Clinton added a third point, saying also
that “there must be a shift from threat to dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, and we will continue to encourage both
sides to seize this opportunity after the Taiwan election” (Remarks by the President on China, March 8, 2000).
164 ROC, Office of the President, “Taiwan Stands Up: Toward the Dawn of a Rising Era,” May 20, 2000 (English and
Chinese versions via the Government Information Office).
165 On March 18, 2000, Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential election in
Taiwan with 39 percent of the vote. Independent candidate James Soong won 37 percent. The ruling Kuomintang
(KMT), or Nationalist Party’s, Lien Chan won 23 percent. The DPP has leaned toward favoring Taiwan’s
independence. Chen’s DPP administration brought Taiwan’s first democratic transfer of power from one party to
another, after 55 years of KMT rule.
called “state-to-state” description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to
change the status quo in regards to the question of independence or unification. Furthermore, the
abolition of the National Unification Council or the Guidelines for National Unification will not
be an issue.
With regard to cross-strait relations, the one China principle we stand for is that there is only one
China in the world; the mainland and Taiwan all belong to one China; and China’s sovereignty
and territorial integrity are indivisible.
December 31, 2000
I have always felt that the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait came from the same family
and that they all pursue the same goals of peaceful coexistence and mutual prosperity. Since both
sides with to live under the same roof, we should be more understanding and helpful rather than
harming or destroying each other. ... The integration of our economies, trade, and culture can be
a starting point for gradually building faith and confidence in each other. This, in turn, can be the
basis for a new framework of permanent peace and political integration.
166 Xinhua [New China News Agency], August 25, 2000, in FBIS.
167 In July 2000, while meeting with visiting Taiwan lawmakers and journalists, Qian Qichen began to articulate this
more flexible formulation of the “one China” principle, particularly in saying that the mainland and Taiwan both
belong to one China (vs. that Taiwan is a part of the PRC or China), according to Taiwan media (e.g., Central News
Agency, July 18, 2000). Later, looking towards an incoming Bush Administration, Qian granted an interview at
Zhongnanhai (the leadership compound) to the Washington Post to reiterate what he described as a new flexibility on
Taiwan to the United States (John Pomfret, “Beijing Signals New Flexibility on Taiwan,” Washington Post, January 5,
2001). In a speech on January 11, 2001, outgoing Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth praised the “significant
formulation by Vice Premier Qian Qichen to the effect that the PRC and Taiwan are both parts of China.” In an
interview with the Washington Post (March 24, 2001), however, President Jiang Zemin ruled out applying the models
of confederation or federation.
168 Chen Shui-bian, President of the Republic of China, “Bridging the New Century: New Year’s Eve Address,”
December 31, 2000. For “integration,” Chen used “tong he.”
April 25, 2001
On ABC: [If Taiwan were attacked by the PRC, the United States has an obligation to use]
whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself.
On CNN: Well, I think that the Chinese must hear that ours is an administration, like other
administrations, that is willing to uphold the spirit of the ... Taiwan Relations Act. And I’ll do so.
However, I think it’s important for people to also note that mine is an administration that strongly
supports the one China policy, that we expect any dispute to be resolved peacefully. And that’s the
message I really want people to hear. But as people have seen, that I’m willing to help Taiwan
defend herself, and that nothing has really changed in policy, as far as I’m concerned. This is
what other presidents have said, and I will continue to say so. ... I have said that I will do what it
takes to help Taiwan defend herself, and the Chinese must understand that. Secondly, I certainly
hope Taiwan adheres to the one China policy. And a declaration of independence is not the one
China policy, and we will work with Taiwan to make sure that that doesn’t happen. We need a
peaceful resolution of this issue.
January 24, 2002171
The refusal to accept the principle of one China and recognize the “1992 consensus” by the
leader of the Taiwan authorities is the crucial reason leading to a deadlock in cross-strait
relations and also the root cause of instability of the situation and possible danger in the Taiwan
Strait. ... We hold that political differences must not interfere with economic and trade exchanges
between the two sides of the strait. ... We are willing to hear opinions from people in Taiwan on
the establishment of a mechanism for economic cooperation and the promotion of economic
relations between the two sides. ... The Democratic Progressive Party should think more about the
welfare of the people in Taiwan, thoroughly discard its “Taiwan independence party platform,”
169 President’s interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program, April 25, 2001; followed by interview on
“CNN Inside Politics,” April 25, 2001. The interviews took place one day after the annual arms sales talks with Taiwan
authorities in Washington. Elaborating on the President’s statements, Vice President Dick Cheney said that “the kind of
diplomatic ambiguity people talk about may be OK in diplomacy sometimes. But when we get into an area where one
side is displaying increasingly aggressive posture, if you will, toward the other, then it’s appropriate to clarify here that
in fact we’re serious about this. It is an important step for the United States, and we don’t want to see a misjudgment on
the part of the Chinese” (interview on “Fox News Sunday,” April 29, 2001).
170 The adjustment in PRC policy came after Taiwan’s elections on December 1, 2001, in which the DPP made
significant gains in the legislature. The DPP won 87 seats, compared with the KMT’s 68 seats, the People First Party
(PFP)’s 46 seats, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU)’s 13 seats, and the New Party’s 1 seat. Independents make up the
other 10 seats of the 225-seat Legislative Yuan. Also, the speech was given as the United States and the PRC prepared
for President Bush’s visit to Beijing on February 21-22, 2002.
171 People’s Daily (in Chinese and English) and Xinhua as translated by FBIS. The occasion for Vice Premier Qian
Qichen’s speech was the 7th anniversary of Jiang Zemin’s “Eight Points.” Also, the People’s Daily published a related
editorial on January 25, 2002.
and develop cross-strait relations with a sincere attitude. We believe that the broad masses of the
DPP are different from the minority of stubborn “Taiwan independence” elements. We welcome 172
them to come, in appropriate capacities, to sightsee, visit, and increase their understanding.
February 21, 2002
Jiang: President Bush emphasized that the United States upholds the one China policy and will
abide by the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques.
Bush: As [President Jiang] mentioned, we talked about Taiwan. The position of my government
has not changed over the years. We believe in the peaceful settlement of this issue. We will urge
there be no provocation. The United States will continue to support the Taiwan Relations Act.
August 3, 2002
I would like to take a moment here to make a few calls for your consideration: (1) During these
past few days, I have said that we must seriously consider going down Taiwan’s own road. ...
172 While saying that its fundamental policy was unchanged, the PRC signaled a new receptive policy toward the ruling
DPP and a change in tone (without reiterating the threat to use force). But, a week later, a spokesman for the PRC’s
Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Mingqing, excluded Chen Shui-bian and his vice president, Annette Lu, from the
invitation to visit. While visiting Taiwan at about the same time, the Chairman and Managing Director of AIT, Richard
Bush, spoke on January 28, 2002, saying that “it does not seem constructive for one side to set pre-conditions for a
resumption of dialogue that the other side even suspects would be tantamount to conceding a fundamental issue before
173 White House, “President Bush Meets with Chinese President Jiang Zemin,” Great Hall of the People, Beijing,
February 21, 2002. The visit to China was the President’s second in four months, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that, in his meeting with Jiang, Bush restated the U.S. policy
on Taiwan as a consistent policy and said that he hoped for a peaceful resolution and no provocations by either side,
and that the United States will live up to the TRA. Bush also talked with students at Tsinghua University on February
22, and he explicitly mentioned the “one China policy” as one he has not changed. Nonetheless, Bush emphasized the
U.S. defense commitment in the TRA and warned both Beijing and Taipei against provocations.
174 Office of the President of the Republic of China, “Chen Shui-bian’s Opening Address to the 29th Annual Meeting of
the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations (in Tokyo, Japan) via Live Video Link,” Chinese version (basis of the
translation here) issued on August 3, and English version issued on August 7, 2002. Chen’s remarks raised questions
about whether he was changing policy to seek an independent Taiwan, whether there was coordination within his
government, whether the speech would provoke tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and whether U.S. policy needed
adjustment. On August 4, 2002, the NSC spokesman responded briefly that U.S. policy has not changed, and added on
August 7, that “we have a one-China policy, and we do not support Taiwan independence” and that the United States
“calls on all parties to avoid steps with might threaten cross-strait peace and stability, and urges a resumption of
dialogue between Beijing and Taiwan.” On August 8, the Chairwoman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, Tsai
Ing-wen, visited Washington to tell the Administration and Congress that Taiwan’s policy on cross-strait relations has
not changed, remaining consistent with Chen’s inauguration address. While in Beijing on August 26, 2002, Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage responded to a question about Chen’s speech, saying that “the United States does
not support Taiwan independence.” He later explained that “by saying we do not support, it’s one thing. It’s different
from saying we oppose it. If people on both sides of the strait came to an agreeable solution, then the United States
obviously wouldn’t inject ourselves. Hence, we use the term we don’t ‘support’ it. But it’s something to be resolved by
the people on both sides of the question.”
What does “Taiwan’s own road” mean? ... Taiwan’s own road is Taiwan’s road of democracy,
Taiwan’s road of freedom, Taiwan’s road of human rights, and Taiwan’s road of peace.
(2) Taiwan is our country, and our country cannot be bullied, diminished, marginalized, or
downgraded as a local entity. Taiwan does not belong to someone else, nor is it someone else’s
local government or province. Taiwan also cannot become a second Hong Kong or Macau,
because Taiwan is a sovereign independent country. Simply put, it must be clear that Taiwan and
China are each one country on each side [yibian yiguo] of the strait.
(3) China has never renounced the use of force against Taiwan and continues to suppress Taiwan
in the international community. ... China’s so-called “one China principle” or “one country, two
systems” would change Taiwan’s status quo. We cannot accept this, because whether Taiwan’s
future or status quo should be changed cannot be decided for us by any one country, any one
government, any one political party, or any one person. Only the 23 million great people of
Taiwan have the right to decide Taiwan’s future, fate, and status. If the need arises, how should
this decision be made? It is our long-sought ideal and goal, and our common idea: a referendum.
... I sincerely call upon and encourage everyone to seriously consider the importance and
urgency of legislation for holding referendums.
October 25, 2002
Bush: On Taiwan, I emphasized to the President that our one China policy, based on the three
communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, remains unchanged. I stressed the need for dialogue
between China and Taiwan that leads to a peaceful resolution of their differences. ... The one
China policy means that the issue ought to be resolved peacefully. We’ve got influence with some
in the region; we intend to make sure that the issue is resolved peacefully and that includes 176
making it clear that we do not support independence.
Jiang: We have had a frank exchange of views on the Taiwan question, which is of concern to the
Chinese side. I have elaborated my government’s basic policy of peaceful unification and one
country, two systems, for the settlement of the Taiwan question. President Bush has reiterated his 177
clear-cut position, that the U.S. government abides by the one China policy.
175 White House, “Remarks by the President and Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Press Conference,” Bush Ranch,
Crawford, TX, October 25, 2002. This summit was the third meeting between the two presidents.
176 In contrast, PRC media reported that President Bush expressed to Jiang that the United States “opposes” (fandui)
Taiwan independence. See “During Talks with Jiang Zemin, Bush Explicitly States for the First time ‘Opposition to
Taiwan Independence’,” Zhongguo Xinwen She, October 26, 2002; People’s Daily editorial (considered authoritative
statement of PRC leadership views), “New Century, New Situation, New Actions,” October 30, 2002. When asked
about Bush’s comments to Jiang, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly maintained, at a November 19, 2002 press
briefing, that “there has been no change in American policy and there was no change in the meeting or out of the
meeting with respect to our position on Taiwan.” Still, in a meeting with Rep. Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House
International Relations Committee in Beijing on December 10, 2002, Jiang said he appreciated President Bush’s
“opposition” (fandui in Chinese version) to Taiwan independence, according to People’s Daily. PRC experts on U.S.-
China relations have reported since the meeting that Bush said that he is “against” Taiwan independence.
177 As confirmed to Taiwan’s legislature by its envoy to Washington, C.J. Chen, and reported in Taiwan’s media
(Chung-Kuo Shih-Pao [China Times], November 22, 2002), President Jiang Zemin offered in vague terms a freeze or
reduction in China’s deployment of missiles targeted at Taiwan, in return for restraints in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
President Bush reportedly did not respond to Jiang’s linkage.
June 1, 2003178
U.S.: On Taiwan, the President repeated our policy of a one-China policy, based on the three
communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act, no support for Taiwan independence. The Chinese
basically accepted that, and said, okay, that’s positive. They did say that they have concerns about
forces on Taiwan moving towards independence. The President said, we don’t support 179
PRC: President Hu reiterated China’s principled stand on the Taiwan issue. ... Bush said that the
U.S. government will continue to follow the “one China” policy, abide by the three U.S.-China
joint communiques, oppose “Taiwan independence,” and that this policy has not changed and 180
will not change.
September 28, 2003182
If we consider the 1996 direct presidential election as the most significant symbol of Taiwan
becoming a sovereign, democratic country, then, in 2006, this “complete” country will be 10
years old. Going through 10 years of practical experience, we must consider what we should seek
next as a sovereign, democratic country. I must say that, in the next phase, we should further seek
the deepening of democracy and a more efficient constitutional system, in order to lead Taiwan’s 183
people to face the rigorous challenges of the new century.
178 After the PRC blocked Taiwan’s efforts to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2003,
despite the SARS epidemic, President Chen Shui-bian announced in a May 20, 2003 speech to the DPP, that he would
promote a referendum on whether Taiwan should join the WHO. He called for that referendum and one on construction
of a nuclear power plant to coincide with the presidential election in March 2004.
179 In a background briefing released by the White House on June 1, 2003, an unnamed senior administration official
volunteered to reporters this version of Bush’s discussions on Taiwan in his first meeting with Hu Jintao after he
became PRC president, in Evian, France.
180 People’s Daily, June 2, 2003. The official report in Chinese used fandui (oppose).
181 On September 22-23, 2003, PRC Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing visited Washington and met with President George
Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Li reportedly complained about U.S. handling of the Taiwan issue.
182 Central News Agency, Taipei, September 28, 2003; Taipei Times, September 29, 2003; World Journal, New York,
September 30, 2003. Leading up to the next presidential election in March 2004, Chen Shui-bian announced a goal of th
enacting a new constitution for the people of Taiwan in time for the 20 anniversary of the founding of the DPP on
September 28, 2006. Chen elaborated on his proposal in a speech on September 30, 2003, at a meeting of the Central
Standing Committee of the DPP (translated from Chinese text). In response, on September 29, 2003, the State
Department’s spokesman called Chen’s announcement an “individual campaign statement” and declined to take a
position on Taiwan’s domestic politics. Nonetheless, the U.S. response stressed “stability in the Taiwan Strait” and
reminded Chen of his pledges in his inauguration speech of May 2000, saying that the United States “take them
seriously and believe they should be adhered to.”
183 On November 11, 2003, Chen Shui-bian also issued a timetable: a new draft constitution by September 28, 2006; a
referendum on the constitution on December 10, 2006; and enactment of the new constitution on May 20, 2008.
October 19, 2003185
Bush: President Hu and I have had a very constructive dialogue. ...
Hu: President Bush reiterated his government’s position of adhering to the one China policy, the
three China-U.S. joint communiques, and his opposition to Taiwan independence.
October 31, 2003187
The hastening of a new Taiwan constitution will determine whether or not our democracy can
come into full bloom. This, strengthened and supplemented by the institutions of direct
democracy, such as referendums, will be a necessary step in advancing Taiwan’s human rights
and the deepening of its democracy. One must not be misled by the contention that holding
referendums or re-engineering our constitutional framework bears any relevance to the “Five
Noes” pledge presented in my inaugural speech. Neither should matters concerning Taiwan’s
constitutional development be simplistically interpreted as a political debate of unification versus
184 In briefing the press on President Bush’s trip to Asia, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said on October
14, 2003, that “nobody should try unilaterally to change the status quo... There must be a peaceful resolution of the
cross-strait issue,” in response to a question about Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian’s statements regarding “one
country on each side” of the Taiwan Strait.
185 White House, “Remarks by President Bush and President Hu Jintao of China,” Bangkok, Thailand, October 19,
2003. In making their joint public appearance, President Bush did not address the U.S. position on the Taiwan issue and
did not correct President Hu’s characterization of the U.S. position, including “opposition” to Taiwan independence.
On October 20, 2003, People’s Daily gave the PRC’s official version of the meeting, reporting that Bush told Hu that
the U.S. government upholds the one China policy, abides by the three communiques, and “opposes” (fandui) Taiwan
independence, and that this policy will not change. An unnamed senior administration official briefed the press on the
U.S. version of the meeting, according to a White House press release on October 19, 2003. When asked about Hu
Jintao’s characterization of Bush’s “opposition” to Taiwan independence, the U.S. official said that U.S. policy on “one
China” has not changed and that “we don’t support Taiwan moving toward independence.” When asked whether Hu
Jintao misrepresented the U.S. view, the U.S. official replied, “I don’t know” and reiterated Rice’s message as one of
not wanting either party to change the status quo unilaterally in the Taiwan Strait in a way that would upset peace and
stability. “We’re trying to make that clear,” the official said.
186 Central News Agency, Taipei, “Taiwan Never Slows Its Pace of Human Rights Reform: President,” October 31,
2003. The United States allowed Chen Shui-bian to transit through New York on his way to Panama. While in New
York, Chen received an award from the International League for Human Rights and gave this speech. At the Heritage
Foundation, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Randall Schriver told reporters that the Administration “appreciated”
Chen’s reiteration of his pledges in the inauguration speech of 2000 and that the transit “went very well.” (Central
News Agency, November 3, 2003). He also said that the Administration supported Chen’s attendance at the “private
event” and received an advance copy of Chen’s speech “as a courtesy” (Taipei Times, November 5, 2003).
187 On the same day, Chen Ming-tong, a vice chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), gave a speech at
the 2nd World Convention of the Global Alliance for Democracy and Peace held in Houston, TX. He contended that
Taiwan is already a sovereign, democratic country that is in a “post-independence period” and that the proposals for
referendums and a new constitution are not meant to declare independence. He also said that Chen Shui-bian instructed
Lee Yuan-tse, Taiwan’s envoy to the APEC summit in Thailand in October 2003, to tell President Bush that the
referendums have nothing to do with promoting Taiwan’s independence.
December 1, 2003189
We oppose any attempt by either side to unilaterally change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
We also urge both sides to refrain from actions or statements that increase tensions or make
dialogue more difficult to achieve. Therefore, we would be opposed to any referenda that would
change Taiwan’s status or move toward independence. The United States has always held, and
again reiterates, that cross-strait dialogue is essential to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait
area. President Chen pledged in his inaugural address in the year 2000 not to declare
independence, not to change the name of Taiwan’s government, and not to add the “state-to-
state” theory to the constitution, and not to promote a referendum to change the status quo on
independence or unification. We appreciate President Chen’s pledge in 2000, and his subsequent
reaffirmations of it, and we take it very seriously.
December 9, 2003
Bush [on whether Taiwan’s President should cancel the referendum planned for March 20, 2004]:
The United States Government’s policy is one China, based upon the three communiques and the
Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the
status quo. And the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be
willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose.
Wen: On many occasions, and just now in the meeting as well, President Bush has reiterated the
U.S. commitment to the three Sino-U.S. Joint Communiques, the one China principle, and
opposition to Taiwan independence. We appreciate that. In particular, we very much appreciate
the position adopted by President Bush toward the latest moves and developments in Taiwan—
that is, the attempt to resort to referendums of various kinds as an excuse to pursue Taiwan
independence. We appreciate the position of the U.S. government.
188 On November 27, 2003, Taiwan’s legislature passed legislation favored by the opposition parties (KMT and PFP)
governing referendums while excluding a DPP proposal for referendums on the national name, flag, and other
sovereignty issues. The law did authorize the president to hold a referendum on national security issues if Taiwan’s
sovereignty faced an external threat. President Chen then announced on November 29 that he would indeed hold a
“defensive referendum” on the day of the election, on March 20, 2004.
189 State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher, press briefing, December 1, 2003. National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice stated on October 14, 2003, that “nobody should try unilaterally to change the status quo,” but this
was the first time the Bush Administration publicly stated “opposition” to any referendum that would change Taiwan’s
status. On the same day, the Senior Director of Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, James Moriarty, secretly
met with President Chen in Taiwan and expressed U.S. concerns about “provocations,” the United Daily News reported
on December 1, 2003.
190 White House, Remarks by President Bush and Premier Wen Jiabao in Photo Opportunity, the Oval Office,
December 9, 2003. Bush did not make public remarks against the PRC’s military threats toward Taiwan. On December
11, 2003, Representatives Brown, Chabot, Rohrabacher, and Wexler, the four co-Chairs of the Taiwan Caucus, wrote
to President Bush, criticizing his remarks with Wen and urging him to support Taiwan’s referendums. On March 17,
2004, 36 Members of the House, led by Representatives Peter Deutsch and Dana Rohrabacher, signed a letter to
Taiwan’s people in support of their right to hold referendums and to self-determination.
April 21, 2004
The United States does not support independence for Taiwan or unilateral moves that would
change the status quo as we define it. For Beijing, this means no use of force or threat to use
force against Taiwan. For Taipei, it means exercising prudence in managing all aspects of cross-
strait relations. For both sides, it means no statements or actions that would unilaterally alter
Taiwan’s status. ...
The President’s message on December 9 of last year during PRC Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit
reiterated the U.S. Government’s opposition to any unilateral moves by either China or Taiwan to
change the status quo. ... The United States will fulfill its obligations to help Taiwan defend itself,
as mandated in the Taiwan Relations Act. At the same time, we have very real concerns that our
efforts at deterring Chinese coercion might fail if Beijing ever becomes convinced Taiwan is
embarked on a course toward independence and permanent separation from China, and
concludes that Taiwan must be stopped in these efforts. ...
The United States strongly supports Taiwan’s democracy, ... but we do not support Taiwan
independence. A unilateral move toward independence will avail Taiwan of nothing it does not
already enjoy in terms of democratic freedom, autonomy, prosperity, and security. ...
While strongly opposing the use of force by the PRC, we must also acknowledge with a sober
mind what the PRC leaders have repeatedly conveyed about China’s capabilities and intentions.
... It would be irresponsible of us and of Taiwan’s leaders to treat these statements as empty
threats. ... We encourage the people of Taiwan to regard this threat equally seriously. We look to
President Chen to exercise the kind of responsible, democratic, and restrained leadership that
will be necessary to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for Taiwan. ...
As Taiwan proceeds with efforts to deepen democracy, we will speak clearly and bluntly if we feel
as though those efforts carry the potential to adversely impact U.S. security interests or have the
potential to undermine Taiwan’s own security. There are limitations with respect to what the
United States will support as Taiwan considers possible changes to its constitution. ...
Our position continues to be embodied in the so-called “Six Assurances” offered to Taiwan by
President Reagan. We will neither seek to mediate between the PRC and Taiwan nor will we exert
pressure on Taiwan to come to the bargaining table. Of course, the United States is also
committed to make available defensive arms and defensive services to Taiwan in order to help
Taiwan meet its self-defense needs. We believe a secure and self-confident Taiwan is a Taiwan that
is more capable of engaging in political interaction and dialogue with the PRC, and we expect
Taiwan will not interpret our support as a blank check to resist such dialogue. ...
War in the Strait would be a disaster for both sides and set them back decades, and undermine
everything they and others in the region have worked so hard to achieve. We continue to urge
Beijing and Taipei to pursue dialogue as soon as possible through any available channels,
without preconditions. ...
191 Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly at hearing held by the
House International Relations Committee on “The Taiwan Relations Act: The Next 25 Years,” April 21, 2004.
The United States is committed to make available defensive arms and defensive services to
Taiwan in order to help Taiwan meet its self-defense needs. ... The PRC has explicitly committed
itself publicly and in exchanges with the United States over the last 25 years to a fundamental
policy “to strive for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question.” If the PRC meets its
obligations, and its words are matched by a military posture that bolsters and supports peaceful
approaches to Taiwan, it follows logically that Taiwan’s defense requirements will change. ...
May 20, 2004193
The constitutional re-engineering project aims to enhance good governance and increase
administrative efficiency, to ensure a solid foundation for democratic rule of law, and to foster
long-term stability and prosperity of the nation. ... By the time I complete my presidency in 2008, 194
I hope to hand the people of Taiwan and to our country a new constitution—one that is timely,
relevant, and viable—as my historic responsibility and my commitment to the people. In the same
context, I am fully aware that consensus has yet to be reached on issues related to national
sovereignty, territory, and the subject of unification/independence; therefore, let me explicitly
propose that these particular issues be excluded from the present constitutional re-engineering
project. Procedurally, we shall follow the rules set out in the existing Constitution and its
If both sides are willing, on the basis of goodwill, to create an environment engendered upon
“peaceful development and freedom of choice,” then in the future, the Republic of China and the
People’s Republic of China—or Taiwan and China—can seek to establish relations in any form
whatsoever. We would not exclude any possibility, so long as there is the consent of the 23 million
people of Taiwan. ...
Today, I would like to reaffirm the promises and principles set forth in my inaugural speech in
nor will they change in the next four years. ...
192 Presidential Office of the Republic of China, “President Chen’s Inaugural Address: Paving the Way for a
Sustainable Taiwan,” May 20, 2004, in Chinese with English version.
193 On March 20, 2004, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP won re-election with 50.1 percent of the votes, while Lien Chan of
the KMT received 49.9 percent. The opposition disputed the result of the election, in which Chen won with a margin of
0.2 percent, after surviving an assassination attempt the day before the election. On March 26, 2004, the White House
congratulated Chen Shui-bian on his victory. See also CRS Report RS21770, Taiwan in 2004: Elections, Referenda,
and Other Democratic Challenges, by Kerry Dumbaugh.
194 While President Chen said “new constitution” in Chinese, the official English translation used “a new version of our
195 The speech showed Chen Shui-bian responding positively to U.S. concerns after his re-election in March 2004 as to
whether he would be pragmatic, predictable, and non-provocative. He did not repeat what Beijing perceives as
antagonistic phrases such as “one country on each side” or “the status quo is Taiwan as an independent state.” Chen did
not rule out options for Taiwan’s future. He also promised to seek constitutional changes using the process under the
existing constitution and did not reiterate his call to use a referendum instead. Chen promised to exclude sovereignty
issues from the constitutional changes. He reaffirmed the commitments in his inaugural address of 2000, while not
explicitly re-stating the “Five Noes.” The White House responded that the speech was “responsible and constructive”
and presented another opportunity to restore cross-strait dialogue.
October 25, 2004
There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and
that remains our policy, our firm policy. And it is a policy that has allowed Taiwan to develop a
very vibrant democratic system, a market economic system, and provided great benefits to the
people of Taiwan. And that is why we think it is a policy that should be respected and should
remain in force and will remain in force, on the American side, it is our policy that clearly rests
on the Three Communiques. To repeat it one more time: we do not support an independence
movement in Taiwan.
December 10, 2004
We have the requirement with the Taiwan Relations Act to keep sufficient force in the Pacific to be
able to deter attack; we are not required to defend. And these are questions that actually reside
with the U.S. Congress, who has to declare an act of war. But I think we have to manage this
question appropriately. We all agree that there is but one China, and Taiwan is part of China.
February 19, 2005
[A common strategic objective is] “to encourage the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the
Taiwan Strait through dialogue.”
March 4, 2005
196 Secretary of State Colin Powell, Interview with Phoenix TV, Beijing, October 25, 2004.
197 Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Interview with PBS, December 10, 2004.
198 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice along with counterparts from Japan
issued a Joint Statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee. China strongly objected to the alliance’s
mere mention of Taiwan.
199 Right before adoption of the “Anti-Secession Law,” Hu declared his “Four-Point Guidelines” before the Chinese
People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
March 14, 2005201
If the separatist forces of “Taiwan independence” use any name or any means to cause the fact of
Taiwan’s separation from China, or a major incident occurs that would lead to Taiwan’s
separation from China, or the possibilities of peaceful unification are completely exhausted, the
country may adopt non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to safeguard national 202
sovereignty and territorial integrity.
June 8, 2005
If China were to invade unilaterally, we would rise up in the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act. If
Taiwan were to declare independence unilaterally, it would be a unilateral decision, that would
then change the U.S. equation, the U.S. look at what the ... the decision-making process. My
attitude is, is that time will heal this issue. And therefore we’re trying to make sure that neither
side provokes the other through unilateral action.
February 27, 2006205
The National Unification Council will cease to function. No budget will be earmarked for it, and
its personnel must return to their original posts. The National Unification Guidelines will cease
200 Translation of Article 8 of China’s “Anti-Secession Law,” adopted on March 14, 2005.
201 At the February 15, 2005 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the nomination of Robert Zoellick
to be Deputy Secretary of State, Zoellick responded to a question from Senator Lisa Murkowski on the Anti-Secession
Law by publicly criticizing it as an action that would run counter to a peaceful resolution and dialogue. On March 16,
the House passed (424-4) H.Con.Res. 98 (Hyde) to express grave concern about the “Anti-Secession Law,” and the
House Taiwan Caucus hosted a briefing by Taiwan’s Ambassador David Lee. On April 6, 2005, the House
International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific held a hearing on China’s “Anti-Secession Law.”
202 Despite the “Anti-Secession Law,” KMT Chairman Lien Chan flew across the strait for a historic meeting with CPC
General-Secretary Hu Jintao on April 29, 2005.
203 George W. Bush, Interview with Fox News, June 8, 2005.
204 Despite his “Five Noes,” on January 29, 2006, Chen Shui-bian called for consideration of whether to “abolish” the
largely symbolic National Unification Council (NUC) and National Unification Guidelines (NUG). President Bush sent
NSC official Dennis Wilder to Taipei with U.S. concerns. Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Steve Chabot wrote a
supportive commentary, “Principled Defense of Freedom,” Washington Times, February 17, 2006. On February 27,
Chen chaired a national security meeting, announcing he would “terminate” (without saying “abolish”) the NUC and
205 Senator John Warner, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told Admiral William Fallon, Commander of
the Pacific Command, at a committee hearing on March 7, 2006, that “if conflict were precipitated by just inappropriate
and wrongful politics generated by the Taiwanese elected officials, I’m not entirely sure that this nation would come
full force to their rescue if they created that problem.”
April 20, 2006
Bush: We spent time talking about Taiwan, and I assured the President my position has not
changed. I do not support independence for Taiwan.
Hu: During the meeting, I stressed the importance of the Taiwan question to Mr. President.
Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and we maintain consistently that under the
basis of the one China principle, we are committed to safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan
Strait, and to the promotion of the improvement and development of cross-strait relations. ... We
will by no means allow Taiwan independence. President Bush gave us his understanding of
Chinese concerns. He reiterated the American positions and said that he does not hope that the
moves taken by the Taiwan authorities to change the status quo will upset the China-U.S.
relationship, which I am highly appreciative.
October 17, 2006
The United States does not support Taiwan independence. We oppose unilateral changes to the
status quo by either side.
February 9, 2007209
We do not support administrative steps by the Taiwan authorities that would appear to change
Taiwan’s status unilaterally or move toward independence. The United States does not, for
instance, support changes in terminology for entities administered by the Taiwan authorities.
206 White House, “President Bush Meets with President Hu of the People’s Republic of China,” Oval Office, April 20,
207 State Department, question taken at the press briefing, October 17, 2006. On October 15, President Chen Shui-bian
called for consideration of a proposal for a “second republic” made by former presidential advisor Koo Kwang-ming.
Later, Chen elaborated on the concept of a constitution for a “second republic” by saying: “The current constitution
would be frozen, and a new Taiwan constitution would be written. Freezing the [Republic of China] constitution also
means keeping some kind of a link to the [old] ROC constitution and not cutting if off completely. The preamble to a
new constitution could address the territory of Taiwan, but the relevant sections of the old constitution defining the
territory would not be touched, thus avoiding a change to the status quo.” (Interview with Kathrin Hille, “Taiwan Set
for New Clash With Beijing,” Financial Times, November 1, 2006). Shortly before he became Chairman of the
Mainland Affairs Commission, Chen Ming-tong released such a draft constitution on March 18, 2007.
208 State Department, question taken at the press briefing, February 9, 2007. On February 8, President Chen Shui-bian
supported DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun’s proposal to promote a “name rectification” campaign, by renaming three
state-owned entities: China Petroleum Corporation to CPC Corporation Taiwan; China Shipbuilding Corporation to
CSBC Corporation Taiwan; and Chunghwa Postal Company” to “Taiwan Postal Company.”
209 On February 20, 2007, Representative Tom Tancredo wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to
criticize her department’s rebuke of Chen over “trivial things” and to question how changing the names of local
businesses would change Taiwan’s status. On April 24, 2007, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Senator John Warner said to the Pacific Command’s commander, Admiral Timothy Keating, that the U.S. military is
heavily engaged worldwide and that Taiwan should not play the “TRA card.”
President Chen’s fulfillment of his commitments will be a test of leadership, dependability, and
statesmanship, as well as ability to protect Taiwan’s interests, its relations with others, and to
maintain peace and stability in the Strait.
June 19, 2007210
The United States opposes any initiative that appears designed to change Taiwan’s status
unilaterally. This would include a referendum on whether to apply to the United Nations under
the name Taiwan. While such a referendum would have no practical impact on Taiwan’s U.N.
status, it would increase tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Maintenance of peace and stability across
the Taiwan Strait is of vital interest to the people of Taiwan and serves U.S. security interests as
well. Moreover, such a move would appear to run counter to President Chen’s repeated
commitments to President Bush and the international community. We urge President Chen to
exercise leadership by rejecting such a proposed referendum.
September 21, 2007211
The United States supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations
whenever appropriate. Such involvement is in the interest of the 23 million people of Taiwan and
the international community, and we urge all UN members to set aside preconditions and work
creatively toward this goal. Consistent with our long-standing One China policy, the United
States does not support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is a
210 State Department, daily press briefing, June 19, 2007. On June 18, President Chen Shui-bian called for a referendum
on whether to join the U.N. using the name “Taiwan” to be held at the time of the presidential election in early 2008.
Chen contended that Taiwan has long participated in various international gatherings using different designations.
Representative Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, met with Taiwan’s Vice President
Annette Lu during her transit in San Francisco on July 2, 2007, and said in an interview that it is impractical for Taiwan
to seek membership in the U.N. and that neither the Administration nor Congress supports a referendum on Taiwan’s
membership in the U.N. (Central News Agency, July 4, 2007). Later, Representative Tom Tancredo wrote a letter on
August 30, 2007, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to criticize Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte’s
comments opposing the referendum as “a step towards a declaration of independence of Taiwan” (in interview by pro-
PRC Phoenix TV of Hong Kong on August 27, 2007). Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Christensen
followed with a strongly-worded speech on September 11, 2007, that stressed U.S. opposition to this referendum as “an
apparent pursuit of name change.”
211 Departing from previous applications since 1993 to join the U.N. under the formal name of Republic of China,
President Chen Shui-bian wrote letters in July 2007 to apply for membership for “Taiwan.” At a press conference at the
White House on August 30, 2007, NSC official Dennis Wilder said that “membership in the United Nations requires
statehood. Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is not at this point a state in the international community.” The United
States did not agree with Taiwan or with the PRC, which claimed that U.N. Resolution 2758 of October 25, 1971,
recognized Taiwan as a part of China. The PRC’s interpretation was used by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of
South Korea. In fact, that resolution restored the legal rights of the PRC in the U.N. and expelled “the representatives of
Chiang Kai-shek” but did not address the status of or mention Taiwan. Three of the co-chairs of the House Taiwan
Caucus wrote to criticize the “diplomatic error” of the U.N. Secretary-General and to urge U.S. support for “Taiwan’s
right to apply for a meaningful U.N. role” (Representatives Steve Chabot, Shelley Berkley, and Dana Rohrabacher,
“Don’t Abandon Taiwan,” Washington Times, September 17, 2007). While the State Department did not speak at the
General Assembly on Taiwan’s application to join the U.N., the U.S. Mission to the U.N. issued a statement on
September 21, 2007.
requirement, so it cannot support measures designed to advance that goal. We believe that efforts
to urge UN membership for Taiwan will detract from our goal of advancing Taiwan’s involvement
in international society.
Note: This study was originally prepared at the request of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in th
the 106 Congress and is made available for general congressional use with permission.
Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs