GOP, a Simmering Struggle on China Policy
Steven Mufson, the Washington Post Staff Writer
, August 22, 2000 ; A10
it comes to China, Vice President Gore and Gov. George W.
Bush have a lot in common. Both men favor permanent normal
trade relations, support the one-China policy of the past
three decades, and insist upon a peaceful settlement of the
Taiwan issue. Yet Republicans have been battling to push their
candidate to take a tougher line toward Beijing and show more
overt support for Taiwan.
backstage struggle broke into the open during the Republican
Party platform drafting. It continues to strain relations
between different Republican factions and could spill into
the next administration if Bush wins the election.
group of Republicans fought during the drafting of the platform
to remove any reference to the one-China policy, a formulation
from the 1970s under which the United States severed formal
diplomatic ties with Taiwan and established them with Beijing.
Former representative Bob Livingston (La.), a member of the
platform committee, led a push to change the first draft of
the Republican platform.
is a sloppy tendency in policy to say that our policy in Asia
is based on the one-China policy," said Bruce Jackson,
chairman of the Republican platform subcommittee on foreign
policy and a District delegate at the Republican convention.
"Nonsense. Our policy in Asia is based on freedom, democracy
and the peaceful resolution of disputes."
aides close to Bush back a more moderate view. "The United
States has a very big interest in continuing the policy that
has served everyone well: No one changes the status quo,"
said Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Council staffer
under former president George Bush who is the Republican nominee's
top foreign policy coordinator.
by Rice and Robert D. Blackwill, a lecturer at Harvard University
and former State Department official, the Republican candidate's
campaign forged a compromise that acknowledged the existence
of the one-China policy without endorsing it.
tiff is just the tip of a wider dispute within each party
over U.S. policy toward China. Members of the "blue team,"
a loose group of people who see China as the biggest future
security threat to the United States, want to stop all modernization
of the Chinese military. "I don't see why Beijing needs
anything more than a lightly armed police force and a coast
guard," said one Republican congressional aide.
others, including Rice and Blackwill, accept that China will
be a major nuclear-armed force in Asia and are seeking to
defuse any threat through diplomacy.
is a changing power in Asia and I think it's going to modernize
its forces," Rice said in an interview during the convention.
"I don't think China is going to modernize enough--if
we keep our nuke secrets to ourselves--to be a threat to our
deterrent capabilities. It can modernize enough to threaten
our missile defenses, but I'm not putting China in a category
of states that would try to blackmail the United States."
an earlier meeting with journalists in Washington, Rice said
she could envision China expanding its nuclear missile arsenal
beyond its current level of about two dozen to more than 100
without fundamentally changing U.S. nuclear strategy.
infighting also has a personal dimension. Many of those favoring
a tougher line toward Beijing take a dim view of Blackwill,
who has been running an exchange program that has brought
People's Liberation Army officers to Harvard. Blackwill has
run a similar program for Russian officers. The China program
has been funded by Nina Kung, a Hong Kong businesswoman who
has given $7 million to Harvard. Kung heads Chinachem, which
is one of China's largest importers of plastics, petrochemicals,
rubber and animal feed.
views of China's intentions and capabilities also shade Republican
views on national missile defense. Many in the Bush camp support
a boost-phase missile defense system, which would catch intercontinental
ballistic missiles on their way up. That would enable the
United States to deploy sea-based defense systems capable
of stopping missiles from North Korea or Iraq, without threatening
the nuclear forces--or nuclear deterrents--of Russia and China.
Many boost-phase advocates see that as a virtue because it
would avoid diplomatic strains with Moscow and Beijing.
other Republicans believe that a missile defense should guard
against China. They fear China might try to blackmail the
United States to block U.S. aid for Taiwan in the event of
a confrontation there.
which sees Taiwan as part of its own territory, has not ruled
out the use of force against the self-governing island. The
United States says it favors a peaceful resolution of differences
between Beijing and Taipei.
struggle within the Republican Party over China policy isn't
new. For years, especially since the collapse of the Soviet
Union, many conservative Republicans have favored stronger
support for Taiwan and expressed growing anxiety about China
as a threat to the United States rather than as a useful counterweight
have been aligned against Republican business interests favoring
warmer ties and expanded trade, as well as foreign policy
experts such as former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger,
who established ties with Beijing, and former secretary of
state Alexander M. Haig, who also favors good relations.
have united over some aspects of China policy. Led by Bush
adviser Paul Wolfowitz, a former senior State and Defense
Department official, Republicans have blasted President Clinton
for paying too much attention to China and insufficient attention
to Japan. But sometimes, as during the Republican platform
spat, differences come to the surface. An early draft of the
party's platform said that "America's commitment to a
one-China policy is based on the principle that there must
be no use of force by China against Taiwan." The final
version read: "America has acknowledged the view that
there is one China. Our policy is based on the principle that
there must be no use of force by China against Taiwan."
said, "What we wrote is that America acknowledges that
there is a view that there is one China. That is China's view."
platform also erodes the "strategic ambiguity" the
United States has used to leave unclear what circumstances
would bring its intervention in a Taiwan Straits crisis. If
China attacks Taiwan, the Republican document bluntly states,
"America will help Taiwan defend itself." Jackson
said, "What we say is that it should be resolved peacefully.
We were correcting the imprecision that has been creeping