Senate Foreign Relations Committee
On S. 693 The Taiwan Security Enhancement
Assistant Secretary of State
For East Asian and Pacific Affairs
August 4, 1999
a pleasure to appear before the Committee today, Mr. Chairman,
in response to your request for Administration views concerning
S. 693, “The Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.” I welcome
the opportunity to respond to you on that subject, but I
would like to do so in the context of providing you the
Administration’s assessment of current cross-strait relations.
I appeared before this Committee on March 25, I found some
cause for optimism about dialogue between Taiwan and the
PRC. In October of 1998, Koo Chen-fu, Chairman of
Taiwan’s senior unofficial representative in talks with
the PRC, traveled to Shanghai, where he was welcomed by
his counterpart, Wang Daohan, the chairman of the PRC Association
for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS). He
then went to Beijing where he stayed in an official state
guesthouse, and met with President Jiang Zemin. Koo
and Wang agreed to further dialogue on political, economic
and other issues, and Wang agreed to make a return visit
U.S. had strongly encouraged both sides to engage in such
a direct dialogue. We welcomed the prospect that the
dialogue would continue and hoped that Wang’s visit to Taiwan
might establish a more solid basis on which to continue
the dialogue. Such a dialogue is the basis for Taiwan’s
lasting security, which military hardware alone cannot guarantee.
context of that positive momentum, we had in recent months
suggested that both sides look at the possibility of “interim
agreements” as one way to move forward in their dialogue.
We offered no preconceived formula about what the substance
of interim agreements might be, only that they might serve
as a way for both sides to build confidence in their ability
to work together, setting the stage for increased cooperation
and enhanced regional stability. We did not offer
this suggestion to put pressure on either side, only as
an idea that might prove useful to both.
the positive momentum which existed earlier this year has
deteriorated sharply. On July 9, Taiwan’s President
Lee Teng-hui told Voice of Germany radio that “we have designated
cross-strait ties as state-to-state or at least as special
state-to-state ties.” On July 12, Su Chi, the Chairman
of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said that the PRC’s
formulation of the “one China” principle was not a basis
for cross-strait discussions.
stated that Lee’s statements threatened the idea of “one
China” that was the basis for relations across the Taiwan
Strait and “was a very dangerous step along the way to splitting
the country.” Beijing repeated its long held position
that it reserved the right to use force if Taiwan moved
toward independence. Wang Daohan suggested that Lee’s
statement undermined the basis for him to travel to Taiwan
this fall to continue the dialogue between the two sides,
and he called for a clarification for SEF’s Koo Chen-fu.
July 30 Koo Chen-fu sent a statement to Wang Daohan to clarify
Lee’s statement. Although he stated that there had been
no change in Taiwan’s policies favoring cross-strait dialogue,
agreements between the two sides, and the goal of a unified
China, Koo also held to Lee’s position on “special state-to-state
relations.” Koo said Taiwan considers that “’one China’
is something for the future since China at present is divided
and ruled separately by two equal sovereign states in existence
at the same time.”
Koo sent his statement of clarification, ARATS immediately
rejected it and said that it “seriously violated” the 1992
the very beginning, the United States responded to this
disruption of cross-straits relations with consistent public
and private statements in an effort to calm tensions and
encourage a peaceful resolution of this dispute. On
July 12, the State Department spokesman reiterated the U.S.
commitment to its “one China” policy. The spokesman
also stressed that, in accordance with the Taiwan Relations
Act, we would view with grave concern any attempt to determine
the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means.
President, first in a telephone call to PRC President Jiang
Zemin, and later in a White House press conference, spelled
out the three pillars of our position toward relations between
Taiwan and the PRC:
Our “one China” policy is unchanged;
We support dialogue as the only way for differences between
the two sides to be resolved; and
We have an abiding interest that there be a peaceful approach
by both sides to resolving differences.
the Clinton-Jiang call, the Administration continued its
diplomatic efforts to restore calm in cross-strait relations.
This included dispatching parallel missions to Beijing and
Taipei. NSC Senior Director for East Asia, Ken Lieberthal,
and I traveled to Beijing while the Chairman of The American
Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Richard Bush, traveled to Taipei.
Both missions had the same objectives: to listed to
senior leaders; and to make sure that they understood the
United States’s firm adherence to its long-standing policies:
“one China” and our insistence on peaceful resolution of
second step, the Secretary met with PRC Foreign Minister
Tang Jiaxuan in Singapore July 25, on the eve of the meeting
of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), to make clear our commitment
to a one-China policy, a peaceful approach and cross-strait
dialogue. Secretary Albright pressed Beijing to continue
the cross-strait dialogue and urged them not to use force.
does this leave the cross-strait situation today?
It is impossible to be certain. There is no sign of
imminent hostilities. It appears that PRC military
activity is somewhat elevated, but reports in the media
have been exaggerated. Nonetheless, the risk of escalation
remains. The visit of Wang Daohan to Taiwan has not
been officially cancelled, but the situation is serious,
and we have urged that the visit proceed. In this
period of uncertainty, all the key players will need to
navigate with care.
on “The Taiwan Security Enhancement Act”
set the context for our consideration of “The Taiwan Security
Enhancement Act,” I would like first to offer a personal
observation. Everyone who knows you, Mr. Chairman,
knows beyond the slightest doubt that your overwhelming
interest in offering this legislation is to strengthen Taiwan’s
Mr. Chairman -- and I say this with all due respect -- the
Administration believes that this legislation could have
serious, unintended negative consequences that would weaken
Taiwan’s security and impinge on our own security interests
in the region. These consequences arise because this
legislation will be interpreted by Taiwan and by the PRC
as a significant revision of the Taiwan Relations Act, which
has successfully governed the U.S. role in cross-strait
issues for twenty years. It will be seen as an effort
to reverse our commitment to an unofficial relationship
and to recreate in its place a formal military relationship
provisions of this bill lead to this perception. For
example, the legislation mandates operational communication
links between military headquarters of Taiwan and the U.S.
in Hawaii, a linkage more indicative of formal military
ties than an unofficial relationship. This perception
would be further enforced by the Act’s requirement that
the Secretary of Defense permit the travel of flag-rank
officers to Taiwan. Avoiding such senior military
travel has helped this and previous administrations of both
parties to have successful working-level contacts while
avoiding the cloak of officiality that would be a hindrance
to effective exchange.
troubling is the specific authorization (in section 5(d)
and (e)) that the U.S. provide ballistic missile defense
and early warning radar to Taiwan. As you know from
my previous testimony, Mr. Chairman, the Administration,
as a matter of policy, does not preclude the possible sale
of TMD systems to Taiwan in the future. But, making
this determination now, when the systems are still under
development, and not yet even available to U.S. forces,
is certainly premature. By their nature, providing
these systems to Taiwan would be a decision with significant
implications for Taiwan’s security, for regional security,
and for the security of the United States. That decision
will need to be made based on a determination of Taiwan’s
defensive needs and in the context of regional developments
at some point in the future when the system is ready for
major element of that context will be the choices that the
PRC makes over the intervening years concerning the deployment
of its missiles. We believe, and we are discussing
this with the PRC, that its own security interests, as well
as regional security, would be best advanced by a decision
to check or scale back its missile deployments. Trends
in PRC deployments will affect our consideration of deploying
ballistic missile defense systems to Taiwan. While
I cannot predict the outcome of our discussions with the
PRC, I can assure you that enactment of this language into
law will make it harder rather than easier for us to succeed,
and could fuel an arms race that would leave Taiwan even
Mr. Chairman, this bill puts the Congress on record as endorsing
the sales of a number of specific weapons, including several
which the Administration had previously denied because they
did not meet the criteria of strictly defensive weaponry.
a danger that this bill could be the first step in a process
whereby the Congress would attempt to mandate specific arms
sales, thereby abrogating the long-standing and effective
arms sales process that now exists. That very prospect
would change the dynamics of the current process, encouraging
Taiwan to seek direct Congressional authorization for the
sale of desired weapons.
significant, three actions required by the bill raised immediate
constitutional concerns: the report detailing the
administration’s deliberative review of Taiwan’s arms sales
requests (sec. 4(b)); the plan for “operational training
and exchanges of personnel” between the Taiwan and U.S.
militaries (sec. 5(b)); and the establishment of a “secure
direct communications” between the U.S. and Taiwan military
(sec. 5(c)). All three would unconstitutionally interfere
with the President’s authority as Commander in Chief and
interfere with his ability to carry out his responsibilities
for the conduct of foreign relations.
all these potentially serious problems with the proposed
legislation, Mr. Chairman, I think is worth considering
whether there is really a need for this Act. Has the
Taiwan Relations Act failed in assisting Taiwan to provide
for its security and stability? The track record of
four administrations says “no.” Despite the difficulties
cross-strait relations have encountered since I testified
before you in March, the assessment of the Taiwan Relations
Act, which I offered then, remains valid:
no hesitation in declaring the TRA a resounding success.
Over the past twenty years, the TRA has not only helped
to preserve the substance of our relationship with Taiwan,
it has also contributed to the conditions which have enabled
the U.S., the PRC, and Taiwan to achieve a great deal more.”
there have been periods of friction over these twenty years,
the dynamism and increasing prosperity across the Strait
dynamism and prosperity has been the product of people on
both sides of the Strait working together. Thousands
of Taiwan companies have established operations in the PRC,
often in cooperation with PRC companies, both private and
government owned. Tens of thousands of PRC workers
work for these Taiwan companies.
shared prosperity has been possible in part because Taiwan
has been able, with the support of the United States under
the TRA, to strengthen its self-defense capability.
The United States has provided a wide range of defensive
military equipment to Taiwan, ranging from Knox-class frigates,
to anti-submarine S-2T aircraft, to anti-air missiles.
Just last week, when some doubted we would move forward
on pending sales, we notifies to the Congress an additional
sale of E-2T early warning aircraft and parts and equipment
for G-16 aircraft.
year, it seems, there is some speculation that the Administration
will not move forward, with some sale of defensive equipment
to Taiwan because of some issue of the moment. Each
time the speculation has been wrong. We are and will
remain committed to fulfilling our obligations.
to providing military systems, we have provided extensive
advice and training opportunities for Taiwan’s military.
Having an unofficial relationship has not obstructed our
ability to have the kinds of contacts necessary to meet
our obligations under section three of the TRA.
of this has occurred in accordance with our commitments
under the TRA. It has worked and is working.
Taiwan has never had a stronger defense capability, and
that capability remains robust as a result of our ongoing
efforts. I would propose that this answers the question
I posed a moment ago. The Taiwan Relations Act has
succeeded in assisting Taiwan to provide for its security
and stability. There is no benefit to counterbalance
the risks entailed in changing it.
A Serious Decision
I would like to note that the TRA, for all its considerable
success, cannot by itself provide for Taiwan’s security.
Given the disparity in size between the PRC and Taiwan,
the island’s security must always depend on more than just
military hardware. The TRA must be complemented by
peaceful interaction, including dialogue, between Taiwan
and the PRC, if we are to reduce tensions and improve security.
Fr twenty years, with the support of the TRA we have seen
progress, halting at times, toward such a dialogue.
Despite the difficulties of recent weeks, it must continue.
It was with that in mind that the President responded to
recent statements on both sides of the strait by reiterating
our commitment to dialogue and to a peaceful resolution
of differences between Taiwan and the PRC.
bill would not enhance the prospects for dialogue and the
peaceful resolution of differences. On the contrary,
it could make it more difficult for both sides to advance
cross-strait talks. And, it would do all this at a
time of continuing concern, a time when the U.S. must provide
stability and predictability if the two sides are to move
forward to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner.
vote on this bill is a serious decision. It is not
what some would call “a free vote.” It is a potentially
dangerous vote against a policy that has worked through
four administrations and continues to work today.