US secretary of state claims arms sales to Taiwan help preserve cross-strait stability
CNAWASHINGTON--U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday defended her country's arms sales to Taiwan in the face of strong protests from Beijing, saying the policy is helpful to preserving cross-strait peace and stability.
September 28, 2011, 12:01 am TWN
Clinton made the statement while meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the United Nations, during which Yang asked the Obama administration to reconsider its arms sale decision on the grounds that it would “harm the trust and confidence” between Beijing and Washington, according to a senior U.S. State Department official.
“Secretary Clinton responded very clearly that the United States had a strategic interest in the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said the official in a background briefing held on condition of anonymity.
Clinton also noted “that the Taiwan Relations Act is quite clear that it provides for a strong rationale for the provision of defensive capabilities and weapons to Taiwan as part of a larger context to preserve that peace and stability,” the official said.
Clinton stressed that the strong support of the United States had provided Taiwan with the confidence to reach out diplomatically to Beijing over the last few years.
“She underscored that the United States supports the improvement in relations, (and) the building of educational, financial, people-to-people links between the mainland and Taiwan,” the official said.
On Sept. 21, the Obama administration notified Congress of a US$5.85 billion arms sale package that mainly covers a retrofit program for Taiwan's existing F-16A/B fighter jets.
Immediately after the announcement, China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to protest the decision.
According to the State Department official, Yang did not specify during his meeting with Clinton what steps China might take in response to the arms sale decision.
On other occasions, however, Chinese officials have indicated that some activities included in the U.S.-China military-to-military program would be postponed, rescheduled or canceled, the official said.
“And as I indicated, it's not unusual that some of those will come over time, not announced immediately,” he said.