Powell undermines Taiwan during Hong Kong interview

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Secretary of State Colin Powell has undercut long-time U.S. ally Taiwan during a television interview by saying the island nation is not independent.

Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell walks with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in Beijing last week.
"Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation," Powell told Hong Kong's Phoenix television on Oct. 25.

Beijing immediately seized on the comment to further its claim that Taiwan is part of Communist China, something the Taiwanese and U.S. governments have rejected for decades.

A Chinese government spokesman said the comments fit China's understanding of U.S. policy toward China.

Powell was asked about Taiwan claiming to be an independent sovereign state and replied.

"Well, they can make these sorts of statements but our policy is clear. 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 Three CommuniquŽs. To repeat it one more time: We do not support an independence movement in Taiwan."

In the past, U.S. officials have sought to avoid such categorical comments about Taiwan to avoid upsetting the delicate balance after the United States formally recognized China and derecognized Taiwan.

In Taiwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen criticized Powell's remarks as a breach of the "mutual trust" shared between Taiwan and the U.S.

"The U.S. has told us not to give them surprises, but this time it is the U.S. giving us a surprise. This is unfair. Taiwan and the U.S. share the same interests and we should build mutual trust. But Powell's talk has breached mutual trust," Chen said.

Copyright © 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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