- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2000

The United States called in China's ambassador Thursday to urge Beijing's communist leaders to tone down their aggressive rhetoric warning Taiwan not to elect a pro-independence president in Friday's elections.
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the meeting took place between Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and Chinese Ambassador Li Zhaoxing.
"Undersecretary Pickering called in China's Ambassador Li to discuss the importance of prudence and patience before and after the Taiwan election and our hope to see following that election positive steps to reduce tensions and foster dialogue," Mr. Rubin said.
Meanwhile, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, reflecting conservatives' alarm that the Clinton administration is abandoning Taiwan on the eve of its elections, criticized Mr. Clinton Thursday for "appeasing" communist China's warlike posture.
"This administration has treated Taiwan with a thinly veiled disdain," said Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, in a foreign policy address. "This proud people who have nurtured liberty in the shadow of tyranny have been all but abandoned by a democratic superpower of unrivaled strength."
The U.S. diplomatic move followed Prime Minister Zhu Rongji's warning on Wednesday to voters in Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province, that they might not get a second chance if they backed a pro-independence candidate.
Today in Tokyo, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said he saw no signs that China was preparing to attack Taiwan, but he warned Beijing that force was not an acceptable way for the two rivals to settle their differences.
"We do not see any evidence of preparation for attack, any imminent attack. What we do see is a war of words," Mr. Cohen said in response to a question at a news conference at the end of his three-day visit to Japan.
"They appear to be trying to affect the outcome of the election with a show of words."
Mr. Rubin said the State Department was in contact with authorities in Taiwan, where Defense Minister Tang Fei has said the island did not seek war but neither did it fear conflict.
In his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. DeLay went so far as to declare that the United States' decades-old "one-China" policy is a "failure."
"There are, in fact, two Chinese states," Mr. DeLay said. "The United States cannot … under any circumstances allow the People's Republic of China to impose a communist future on Taiwan."
A top aide to Mr. DeLay said his remarks were intended as a signal to China and Taiwan that the island nation should be allowed to "pursue the democratic process with confidence and security."
Chinese leaders last month announced that they would use military force if Taiwan delays unification talks indefinitely.
A leading Chinese dissident told The Washington Times this week that China's announcement is a sign that it has already decided to invade Taiwan. That activist, Wei Jingsheng, who spent 19 years as a political prisoner in a Chinese forced labor camp, met with Mr. DeLay earlier this week.
"This demonstration of genuine democracy has thrown Beijing into something akin to panic," Mr. DeLay said. "Threats of invasion seem to pour out of Communist Party headquarters daily."
A spokesman for Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Mr. DeLay "hit the nail right on the head."
"Senator Helms has long said … that there is one China but there are two Chinese states," said Marc Thiessen. "They are separate, sovereign states."
Mr. Thiessen said Mr. Clinton has encouraged China's aggressive posture by dragging his feet on arms sales to Taiwan and giving a cool reception to House passage of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.
"There's been no impact on missile proliferation or human rights [in China]," Mr. Thiessen said. "That's what a policy of appeasement purchases."
Amid the increasing saber-rattling, Congress is preparing to vote on whether to grant China permanent normal trade status. The Clinton administration is urging lawmakers to approve the measure by June.
Mr. DeLay said he does favor normal trade relations with China, but said the United States "must rethink our view of 'engagement' and trade as tools for managing" relations with China.
"Trade cannot come at any price to our nation and to our freedom," Mr. DeLay said. "We should never be fooled into cheering higher profits while communist China harnesses that prosperity to construct an arsenal of tyranny."
Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asian affairs, said he was encouraged by Mr. DeLay's support for China's entry into the World Trade Organization but disagreed that the "one-China" policy is a failure.
"A lot of this is just rhetoric before the elections," Mr. Thomas said in an interview. "I think our policy is pretty good. I don't think the administration has done a good job of articulating it."
Militarily, Mr. DeLay urged the administration to move "additional assets to the theater" in the short term. As for the long range, he said, the United States should develop and deploy a sea-based missile defense system.
"It is a huge deterrent to any developing nation that is thinking about getting into the missile business," Mr. DeLay said after his speech. "It is the only sensible approach to defending this nation. You have a bully across the Taiwan Straits … and the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him. If you ever kowtow to a bully, the bully will live your life for you forever, and that is the failure of the foreign policy of this administration. They have kowtowed to the communist rulers of the People's Republic of China."
Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, called China's threats "unacceptable" and said the United States is not to blame for the tensions.
"It is my hope that the people of Taiwan will ignore these contemptible threats," Mr. Gilman said in a statement. "It seems to me that the refusal to renounce the use of force, an unprecedented military buildup, and threatening rhetoric against Taiwan would be more central to the difficulties in the relationship."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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