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U.S. President George W. Bush Reviews First 100 Days and U.S.-China Relations

BG0102E | Date: 2001-04-30

The United States has an obligation to protect Taiwan from attack by China, and will do so if necessary, President Bush said in a series of interviews with news organizations to mark his 100th day in office, which falls on Sunday, April 29.

"What I'm saying is that China must know that if circumstances warrant, that we will uphold the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act and that they just have got to understand that. Clearly. They just need to understand that we will do so. ... The Chinese have got to understand that (military force) is clearly an option," Bush told the Associated Press (AP) April 25.

In an April 24 interview with ABC News, broadcast April 25, Bush said he would do "whatever it took" to defend Taiwan from an attack by China.

In an April 25 interview with John King of the Cable News Network (CNN), broadcast live from the White House, Bush was asked by King if this were not a dramatic break with past policy. For the past 20 years, King said, U.S. Presidents have been deliberately ambiguous about what they would do to defend Taiwan.

Bush responded: "I think the Chinese must hear that ours is an administration, like other administrations, that is willing to uphold the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act and I will do so. However, I think it's important for people to also note that mine is an administration that strongly supports the one China policy, that we expect any dispute to be resolved peacefully and that's the message I really want people to hear.... Nothing has really changed in policy as far as I am concerned. This is what other Presidents have said and I will continue to say so."

"I certainly hope Taiwan adheres to the one-China policy," Bush said. "And a declaration of independence is not the one-China policy and we will work with Taiwan to make sure that that doesn't happen -- we need a peaceful resolution of this issue."

"Our nation will help Taiwan defend herself at the same time that we support the one China policy where we expect, and hope, and believe there will be a peaceful resolution in any differences of opinion," he said.

Bush said relations with China are "difficult" and "complex" but a relationship that his administration "takes very seriously. We'll find areas where we can agree and we'll find areas where we don't agree but we will do so in a respectful way. And there's going to be some times where we are going to have to draw some lines and I'll be willing to do so."

In an April 24 interview with the Washington Post, published in its entirety April 25, Bush said he plans to drop the U.S. government's annual review of weapons sales to Taiwan.

"We have made it clear to the Taiwanese that we will not have this so-called annual review -- that we will meet on an as-needed basis," Bush said. "Obviously, we reserve the right to continue to provide defensive weapons to the Taiwanese," he said.

The President told the Washington Post that his proposed sale to Taiwan of four naval destroyers, 12 anti-submarine aircraft and eight diesel-electric submarines, is the "right package for the moment."

On other matters, Bush in his interviews said he is pleased with his performance so far as President, and is optimistic that he can win a big tax cut for Americans while improving education. He also defended his environmental record.