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   Letter from Chinese Ambassador to all 100 Senators


February 4, 2000

The Honorable [Senator's name]
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator [Senator's name]:

I am writing to express my deepest concern over the future of China-U.S. relations in the wake of the passage by U.S. House of Representatives of the so-called "Taiwan Security Enhancement Act" (TSEA) on February 1, 2000.

Despite the obvious ideological, political and economic differences, China and the United States have been able to build a workable and mutually-beneficial relationship in the past 20 years and more through six U.S. Administrations, both Democratic and Republican, often with strong bipartisan support from Congress. But TSEA threatens to destroy the very basis of that relationship. Let me show you how the bill harms China-U.S. relations.

- It negates the "one China" principle. This "bedrock" principle says that there is but one China in the world with Taiwan being part of China and that the U.S. recognizes the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and, within that context, it will maintain only unofficial relations with Taiwan. The bill, however, treats Taiwan as a separate country and, in calling for direct secure communications and enhanced operational training and exchanges between the armed forces of the U.S. and Taiwan, it creates a formal military relationship similar, if not entirely identical, to the official U.S.-Taiwan relations in the pre-1979 period, thus undermining the basic framework of China-U.S. normalization.

- It violates the three China-U.S. Joint Communiqués, particularly the 1982 August 17th Communiqué in both letter and spirit. The U.S. pledges in the document that it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, and that it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution. TSEA, however, insists on determining the nature and quality of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan solely on the basis of the "Taiwan Relations Act" (TRA) to the exclusion of any alternative basis such as the August 17th Communiqué or similar executive agreements. By doing so, it allows the U.S. side to forfeit its solemn international obligations. What is more, judging from the weapons list contemplated during the TSEA's deliberation, such as TMD system, attack submarines and guided-missile destroyers, the U.S. will substantially increase its arms sales to Taiwan. This will pose a severe threat to China's security, increase the chances of military confrontation in the Taiwan

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Straits and destabilize Asia-Pacific situation by emboldening the already recalcitrant separatist forces on the island.

    -It fans up a "China threat" hysteria.  In order to justify their extreme stance, the sponsors of the bill need to paint an ominous picture of a war-mongering China.  The annual reports that the DOD is required to submit on the security situation in the Taiwan Straits and on U.S. military response to contingencies in the region will serve this purpose.  How can China-U.S. relations be expected to go forward and smoothly when such threadbare Cold-War technique is put to use against a country that is concentrating on domestic economic development while seeking to build towards a constructive strategic partnership with the United States?

    Facts have shown that TSEA, which is a serious infringement on China's sovereignty and gross interference in China's internal affairs, is no ordinary bill. It is the brainchild of the infamous FAPA, a locally registered pro-independence Taiwan lobby whose job is to get U.S. politicians as well as legislations to advance their separatist cause.  Conventional wisdom shows that supporting such a bill that promotes everything a Taiwan-independence advocate stands for would amount to supporting rising tension and instability in the Asia-Pacific region, allowing grave, even irreparable, damage  to China-U.S. relations and weakening critical U.S. security, political and commercial interests in the region and around the world.

    With Hong Kong and Macao now returned, the 1.25 billion people of China are all the more anxious to see their motherland reunified.  We hope to settle the Taiwan question on the basis of "peaceful reunification and one country, two systems."  Despite current obstacles posed by Lee Teng-hui's "two-state" fallacy, we are still in favor of cross-straits exchanges and of holding negotiations to solve the political differences between the two sides.  As one Chinese leader recently put it, in the context of the "one China" principle anything can be put on the table.  In view of the subtle political situation in Taiwan, the delicate state of cross-straits relations and the numerous opportunities and challenges our two countries must take on together in the new century, Congress should approach the Taiwan issue with extra caution.  Failure to do so may entail explosive developments and risk unraveling of what our two countries have worked so hard and so long to build.  The last thing Congress can do, as I see it, is to make the ill-conceived and counter-productive TSEA into law.

    It is in this connection that I appeal to you, Mr. Senator, for your vision and wise judgment in the consideration of the controversial bill.  It is my hope that common sense and an appreciation of the long-term American national interests would prevail.


     Li Zhaoxing

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