QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for speaking today with Phoenix Television
regarding the latest political developments in Taiwan. In June, the State Department indicated that the U.S. opposes Taiwan holding a referendum on whether to apply for membership in the UN under the name of Taiwan, and called for President Chen to reject such a referendum. However, President Chen has announced that he and his party will continue to push for the referendum. So what would the U.S. do now to make sure that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait will not be further disturbed?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Let me first say that Taiwan has no better friend than the United States. We strongly support Taiwan's democracy. We support their economy. We're very impressed by their vibrant economy. And we're also, as you know, committed to the defense of Taiwan through the Taiwan Relations Act.
So when we talk about the situation in regard to Taiwan, we talk about Taiwan in the context of a great friendship. But when it comes to this issue of a referendum as to
whether or not Taiwan join the United Nations in the name of Taiwan, we do have
great concerns. We oppose the notion of that kind of a referendum because we see that as a step towards the declaration -- towards a declaration of independence of Taiwan, towards an alteration of the status quo. And I would recall that in the past President Chen has made commitments to the American President, to the international community, and to the people of Taiwan not to take any kind of
steps that would represent a unilateral alteration of the status quo, such as a change in the official name of Taiwan.
QUESTION: And what would be the consequences for Taiwan if it continues to push for the referendum? Will the U.S. downgrade its economic or military cooperation with Taiwan?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, I don't -- I wouldn't want to get into that kind of a hypothetical discussion at this particular time. But what I would like to
emphasize is that we believe it's important to avoid any kind of provocative steps on the part of Taiwan. And we believe that pursuing a referendum of this kind could, as I said earlier, be interpreted as a step towards a declaration of independence, and we do not believe that that would be a constructive way on the part of the Taiwan authorities to pursue their interests.
QUESTION: You mentioned that the U.S. is committed to defend Taiwan, but Senator Warner mentioned once in a hearing that if the conflicts across the Taiwan Strait were precipitated by the wrong policy of Taiwan's officials, then the U.S. may not use full force to defend Taiwan. What's the U.S. view?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Well, these are the kinds of questions -- they're hypothetical questions that are very difficult to address before a specific situation might arise. You're correct in saying we're very committed to the defense of Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act. We wish the peoples and authorities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to pursue their objectives through peaceful means.
And it's this kind of spirit that we're encouraging the authorities of Taiwan to adopt as they address this question of a referendum -- which, as I said earlier, we consider to be a mistake.
QUESTION: Thank you. My last follow-up: Some people argue that Taiwan is actually declaring independence in slow motion, and the U.S. stated that it does not support Taiwan independence. But Taiwan is a democracy. How can -- how much can the U.S. do to stop or reverse Taiwan's slow drift toward independence? Does it concern you that Taiwan's domestic politics is sliding out of the U.S. hands?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: We feel that this is a time for the authorities in Taiwan to behave in a responsible manner, to behave in a way that would advance the interests of Taiwan while, at the same time, not disturbing the situation across the Taiwan Strait. So I think there's a way of doing that, of pursuing their democracy, pursuing their vibrant economy, benefiting from the friendship, the strong friendship of a country such as the United States -- and we are certainly committed to continuing that. But we believe that it has to be done in a serious and responsible way.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Yesterday, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte gave a short interview to Naichian Mo of Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV. Below is the transcript (minus the niceties at the end, to see the original transcript on the State Department's website, click here):