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   Letters from Chinese Ambassador to Helms


February 12, 2000

The Honorable Jesse Helms
United States Senate
403 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Helms,

Thank you for your letter dated February 9, 2000.  Mr. James Morrison, who runs the Embassy Row column of the Washington Times, reminded me yesterday that he would run your letter coming Monday and wanted to head my comment.  Frankly, I have long hoped to meet with you, not only because I wanted to explain to you some basic facts about China, but also to consult with you, as urged by many of your colleagues on the Hill and business leaders from your North Carolina constituency, on ways to better serve the American people in the context of China-U.S. relations.  Given this, I am quite baffled that you, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate should have chosen to unleash a public bombardment of attacks, ridicules and insinuations against my deputy chief of mission, Minister Liu Xiaoming of the Chinese Embassy in the United States.  I believe I have a duty to set the record straight and not to let your charges go unanswered.

Having reviewed the relevant transcripts and notes, I arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Liu said nothing wrong or inappropriate at our February 3 pres conference.  China was and remains strongly opposed to the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA) passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month, and we will not flinch from voicing our view.  AS a matter of fact, I have just written a letter to all U.S. Senators on this issue.

Our strong opposition to TSEA is totally justified.  First, the bill negated the all too important "one China" principle by treating Taiwan as a separate country, thuse undermining the basic framework of China-U.S. normalization.  Secondly, it violates U.S. pledges under the three China-U.S. joint communiques by calling for substantial upgrading of U.S. -Taiwan military relations and increase of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.   And thirdly, it fans up a scare about the false "China Threat" by mandating annual reports on Taiwan Straits situation and U.S. military response to contingencies there.  If TSEA were made into law, it will further embolden the already recalcitrant separatist forces on Taiwan, destabilize Asia-Pacific situation and increase the chances of military confrontation in the Taiwan Straits.  I am not so sure if China-U.S. relations which both countries have worked so hard to nurture can survive the explosive developments that TSEA is destined to set in motion.

In his statement at the press conference, Mr. Liu did remind people of the serious retrogression in the relationship as a result of the U.S. decision to allow Lee Teng-hui to visit the United States in 1995.  The point we were trying to convey is that if the TSEA should become law, the consequences would be enormous.  I stand by this assessment.

China's policy on the Taiwan issue remains consistent.  WE love peace and hope to resolve the issue under the formula of peaceful reunification on the basis of "one country, two systems."  But we are fully prepared to oppose any attempt at Taiwan independence.

While pointing out the outrageous nature of TSEA, Mr. Liu expressed the belief that a lack of understanding of the bill's potential gravity and sensitivity on the part of some Congressmen was to blame for the vote result.  It is a fact that some Congressmen did not have adequate knowledge of teh origin of the Taiwan question and the evolution of China-U.S. relations, particularly what the three China-U.S. joint communiques provide for on U.S. commitments with regard to this part of China.  Your own letter is a handy example: More than 20 years have passed since the U.S. recognized the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, yet you are still referring to the Chinese province of Taiwan as "republic of China on Taiwan" and teh leader of Taiwan as "president".  It would be an understatement just to call this "ignorance" or "lack of knowledge".

For your information, Mr. Liu has been well educated both in China and the United States and knows the two countries well.  As far as I can recall, he has never compared you or any of your Congressional colleagues to :elementary school pupils".  The closest reference as I can think of is that some American scholars once made a remark, saying that even elementary school students know that Taiwan is part of China but many politicians don't seem to know that fact.

Dear Senator, I understand we have some fundamentally conflicting values and opinions.  I would rather prefer to discuss them with you in private in a candid atmosphere, yet I will not run away from a public debate if someone tries to impose it on me.

May I conclude by wishing you a happy new year.  I remain,

Sincerely yours

Li Zhaoxing

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