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The State Department, however, quietly challenged that policy in the summer of 2007 when it privately notified senior United Nations officials that “If the U.N. Secretariat insists on describing Taiwan as a part of the [Peoples Republic of China], or on using nomenclature for Taiwan that implies such status, the United States will be obliged to disassociate itself on a national basis from such position.”

Heritage China specialist John J. Tkacik, a former State Department official, said the diplomatic note was triggered by concerns that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was undermining important U.S. trade and other relations with Taiwan by tilting toward Beijing’s view of Taiwan.

Mr. Ban stated in March 2007 that the world body considered Taiwan “an integral part” of China. It was the first time any U.N. secretary general had spoken of Taiwan’s status since 1971, when Taiwan was expelled and replaced by mainland officials.

Since 1971, the United States and many allies have withheld formal acceptance of China’s claims to own Taiwan. However, under Chinese pressure, U.S. diplomats delicately have sought to placate the Chinese by pledging support for “one China.” At Foggy Bottom, department officials even call it “our one China policy,” which even senior diplomats admit remains undefined but is clearly not Beijing’s version.

Mr. Tkacik says he thinks the belated clarification note may be too late. “For six years, the Bush Administration has given Taiwan’s voters the impression that America actually wants their democracy to submit to communist China’s demands,” he said.

While Taiwan, under newly elected President Ma Ying-jeou, is moving toward closer ties with the mainland, the Bush administration appears to be working at cross purposes internally on Taiwan.

“The Bush administration discourages Taiwan from relying on the U.S. to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses as it engages in negotiations with Beijing about the island’s future,” Mr. Tkacik said.

For example, the White House recently halted sales to Taiwan worth about $12 billion in new arms procurement, to avoid upsetting Beijing.

“How the United States defends democratic Taiwan’s international identity in the current environment will tell Asia and the world much about Washington’s willingness to stand against the broader challenge from China,” Mr. Tkacik said, noting, however, that Taiwan’s new president “will be left to bargain with Beijing with little material or moral support from the Bush administration.”

Gates on DNI

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates took a subtle shot at the new office of the director of national intelligence during the military retirement ceremony last week of Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who left the military but is continuing as CIA director, a post once held by Mr. Gates.

The defense secretary pointedly revealed that even though intelligence relations among civilian and military spy agencies have improved, he is still not a fan of the new intelligence czar created by Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Wherever Gen. Hayden has been in government, we have seen within his orbit a shift away from the inefficiencies and turf wars that too often plague government intelligence efforts,” Mr. Gates said Friday.

He then went on to say: “It is no secret that I opposed the creation of the current DNI intelligence apparatus. But Mike has proven that even a flawed bureaucratic structure can be made to work if we have the right leaders and right relationships in place.”

The comment was made as the current director of national intelligence, J. Michael McConnell, sat in the front row. The comment indicates that relations between the Pentagon, CIA and the office of DNI are somewhat strained.

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