HOUSE PRESS CONFERENCE July 21, 1999
President, in U.S. treaty relations, is it obligated to defend
Taiwan militarily if it abandons the one-China policy?
And would the U.S. continue military aid if it continues --
if it pursues separatism?
Clinton: Let me say first of all, a lot of those questions
are governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, which we intend
is clear. We favor the one-China policy. We favor
the cross-strait dialogues. The understanding we have
had all along with both China and Taiwan is that the differences
between them would be resolved peacefully. If that were
not to be the case, under the Taiwan Relations Act, we would
be required to view it with the gravest concern.
believe that both China and Taiwan understand this.
I believe that they want to stay on a path to prosperity and
dialogue, and we have dispatched people today, as morning
press reports, to do what we can to press that case to all
sides. This is something that we don't want to see escalate,
and I believe that what Mr. Lee said yesterday was trying
to move in that direction.
understand how difficult this is, but I think that the pillars
of the policy are the right ones. The one-China policy
is right, the cross-strait dialogue is right, the peaceful
approach is right, and neither side, in my judgment, should
depart from any of those elements.
we would still have to go to war with China if it decided
to break away?
Clinton: I will say what I've already said. The Taiwan
Relations Act governs our policy. We made it clear,
and I -- as you remember, a few years ago, we had a physical
expression of that -- that we don't believe there should be
any violent attempts to resolve this, and we would view it
don't believe there will be. I think that both sides
understand what needs to be done.
President, do you think that President Lee was unnecessarily
provocative in trying to redefine the nature of the Taiwan-Chinese
relationship? And is the United States trying to send
a signal by delaying a Pentagon mission which was going to
Taiwan to assess its air defense needs? And further,
finally, you said that you still believe in a one-China policy.
How do you address Senator Helms's criticism that that policy
is a "puzzling fiction"?
Clinton: I don't think it's a puzzling fiction. I think
that it -- but if Senator Helms means that today they're not
in fact unified, then that's true. But the Chinese tend
to take a long view of things and have made clear a sensitivity
to the different system that exists on Taiwan and a willingness
to find ways to accommodate it, as they did in working with
Hong Kong, and perhaps even going beyond that.
So I think
the important thing is to let -- they need to take the time
necessary to work this out between themselves in a peaceful
way. That is clearly in both their interests.
still not entirely sure, because I have read things which
seem to resonate both ways on this, exactly what the Lee statements
were trying to convey. But I think that both sides are
now quite aware of the fact that they need to find a way to
pursue their destinies within the framework that we have followed
these last several years which, I might add, has allowed both
places to prosper and grow, to do better and to have more
contacts, more investment, and underneath the rhetoric, quite
a bit more reconciliation. So I would hope that we would
stay with what is working and not depart from it.
the meaning of the delay of the Pentagon mission, to assess
Clinton: I didn't think this was the best time to do something
which might excite either one side or the other and imply
that a military solution is an acceptable alternative.
If you really think about what's at stake here, it would be
unthinkable. And I want -- I don't want to depart form
any of the three pillars. I think we need to stay with
One China, I think we need to stay with the dialogue, and
I think that no one should contemplate force here.