Rep. Sherrod Brown was unsure about U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan, so the Ohio Democrat asked the State Department for an explanation.
“Congress and the American public have the distinct impression that the administration has assumed the People’s Republic of China’s definition of ‘one China’ as its own,” Mr. Brown wrote in October.
At the time China was again in the spotlight on Capitol Hill, where President Clinton’s former CIA director, James Woolsey, accused the administration of pandering to China. The House International Relations Committee, which includes Mr. Brown, had just approved the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.
Although the State Department took nearly two months to reply, Mr. Brown now at least knows his impression was right. Washington accepts communist China’s position on democratic Taiwan.
“The U.S. has acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China,” Barbara Larkin, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, told Mr. Brown in a Jan. 5 letter.
She also said the United States will support whatever arrangement China and Taiwan make with each other as long as the decision is voluntary.
To underscore the policy as bipartisan, she added, “The Reagan administration in 1982 clarified that the U.S. has no intention of pursuing a policy of ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China, one Taiwan.’ ”
“Since 1972, our basic objectives are: peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait area; engagement with the PRC [People’s Republic of China]; continuation of strong economic, cultural and other relations with the people on Taiwan; and peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences,” Mrs. Larkin wrote.
“Consistent with this framework, both President Clinton and Secretary [of State Madeleine K.] Albright this year reaffirmed three pillars of our approach to cross-strait relations: continuation of our ‘one-China’ policy; insistence on peaceful resolution of differences; and support for cross-strait dialogue.
“We are willing to support any outcome voluntarily agreed to by both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”
Mr. Brown shared his letter with Chen Wen-yen, president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, who sees an irony in the U.S. position.
“This policy only gives the people of Taiwan a veto over decisions they don’t like, not an affirmative voice on the future of Taiwan,” he said.
“If this had been an offer accepted by the American Colonies in the 18th century, the United States would still not be an independent country unless the British had agreed.”
Think tank travelers
The Western Policy Center is organizing a trip to Greece with fellow deep thinkers from rival think tanks.
The trip will include experts on Greece from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Cato Institute, the National Defense University, the Congressional Research Service and the Rand Corp.
“This is the first time such a project has been organized,” said John Sitilides, director of the Western Policy Center.
He also said the timing is right, following President Clinton’s visit there in November.
“Given the recent media focus on Greece after President Clinton’s visit, this is an excellent time to review the strong ties between Washington and Athens and the pivotal role Greece can play in stabilizing the Balkans and encouraging Turkey’s Western orientation,” he said.
* Christian Schwarz-Schilling, a member of the German parliament, who will discuss “Building democracy in the Balkans” with invited guests of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
* Ilyas Ahmadov, foreign minister of the breakaway Russian province of Chechnya, who will discuss the current war in his homeland at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, 1740 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The event, from 5 to 7 p.m., is open to the public. Call 202/663-7721 for reservations.