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U.S. Foreign Policy Milestones in the Region (1979-2009)

U.S. Foreign Policy Milestones in the Region (1979-2009)



  • Jan. 3: State Department announces U.S. will sell $280 million in defensive arms to Republic of China (R.O.C.) on Taiwan, but no advanced fighter jets for now.
  • Jan. 24: Pentagon announces U.S. will sell P.R.C. nonlethal military equipment. U.S.-China Commission on Scientific and Technical Cooperation holds first meeting in Beijing.
  • Aug. 20: Republican Vice-Presidential candidate George Bush in Beijing is told by Huang that candidate Ronald Reagan's stand on Taiwan could harm U.S.-P.R.C. relations as well as endanger world peace. On 8/25 Reagan issues "definitive" statement accepting current unofficial U.S.-R.O.C. relationship.
  • Sept. 6: Under Secretary of Defense for Research William J. Perry arrives in Beijing; says on 9/10 U.S. will sell 11 advanced computers with possible military application to P.R.C..
  • Oct. 15: P.R.C. formally protests accord on diplomatic immunity signed 10/2 by American Institute on Taiwan and its U.S. counterpart, as betrayal of normalization principles.


  • Jan. 7: People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) -U.S. scheduled air service resumes after 32 years.
  • Feb. 12: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves export of 3 reactors to R.O.C..
  • Jun. 13: Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr. in Hong Kong says closer U.S.-P.R.C. ties a "strategic imperative" in face of growing Soviet threat. In Beijing 6/14-6/16 Haig announces U.S. decision in principle to sell arms to P.R.C..
  • Sep. 5: U.S.-P.R.C. cultural exchange pact signed in Beijing.
  • Sep. 24: Arthur W. Hummel, Jr. as Ambassador to P.R.C..
  • Nov. 16: James R. Lilley appointed AIT Director.


  • Jan. 11: U.S. approves sale of additional F-5E fighter aircraft to Republic of China (R.O.C.), but rules out sale of more sophisticated warplanes; People's Republic of China (PRC) protests decision 1/12.
  • Jan. 31: P.R.C. declares willingness to discuss time schedule for ending U.S. military sales to Taiwan.
  • Mar. 13: P.R.C. warns Reagan Administration that Sino-American relations will suffer "grave consequences" if U.S. insists on making "long-term" arms sales to R.O.C..
  • Apr. 13: U.S. announces sale of $60 million in military spare parts to R.O.C.; P.R.C. protests 4/14, and warns 4/16 that US-P.R.C. relations are at "critical juncture."
  • May 5-9: Vice President George Bush visits PRC; meets with Chinese leadership, but fails to break impasse over U.S. arms sales to R.O.C..
  • Jul. 16: Reagan Administration says it has notified P.R.C. that U.S. will proceed with co-production of F-5E fighter aircraft with R.O.C.; P.R.C. reportedly protests decision.
  • Aug. 16: After 10 months of secret negotiations, U.S. and P.R.C. sign joint communique governing both nations' relations with R.O.C.; P.R.C. pledges to seek reunification with Taiwan only by peaceful means, U.S. promises not to exceed--and gradually to reduce--current levels of arms sales to R.O.C.. R.O.C. expresses "profound regret" over U.S.-P.R.C. agreement 8/17.
  • Sep. 6-11: Former President Richard M. Nixon visits P.R.C. to commemorate 10th anniversary of Shanghai Communique; urges U.S. and P.R.C. to "seize the hour" and expand mutual relations.


  • Feb. 18: China applies to replace Taiwan at Asian Development Bank; U.S. and Japan reportedly endorse Chinese membership.
  • Feb. 25: China charges U.S. with violating spirit of 1982 US-Chinese agreement on reduction of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan; U.S. on 2/26 denies accusation, stresses commitment to strong US-Chinese relations.
  • Apr. 4: U.S. grants asylum to Chinese tennis star Hu Na; in response, China orders cancellation 4/7 of scheduled 1983 sports, cultural exchanges with US.
  • Jul. 15: U.S. announces plans to sell $530 million in new arms to Taiwan; China denounces move 7/22, charging U.S. with violating 8/82 communique on arms sales.
  • Sep. 25-29: Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger visits China, exploring opportunities for increased US-Chinese military cooperation.


  • Jan. 12: U.S. and China, during visit to U.S. by Chinese Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang, sign agreements extending current scientific exchanges and initiating new cooperation in industry, trade.
  • Apr. 26-May 1: Reagan, in first trip to Communist country, visits China; meets with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping 4/28.
  • Jun. 14: U.S. at end of visit by Chinese Defense Minister Zhang Aiping, announces agreement "in principle" on sale to China of U.S. antiaircraft, antitank weapons.
  • Jun. 15: White House spokesman, citing Chinese support for Pakistani nuclear programs, warns that 4/30 US-Chinese nuclear cooperation accord will not be sent to Congress without new guarantees that China will not aid emergence of new nuclear-weapon states.


  • July 23: President Ronald Reagan meets at White House with Chinese President Li Xiannian, announces signing of pact allowing sale of American nuclear reactors and nonmilitary technology to China.
  • Oct. 13-18: Vice President George Bush visits China, announces U.S. agreement to speed export of some high-technology products to China; Taiwan issue is raised by Chinese leaders as obstacle to Sino-U.S. relations.
  • Nov. 19: Winston Lord as Ambassador to P.R.C..


  • Feb. 20: Board of governors of Asian Development Bank accepts P.R.C. as bank's 47th member; P.R.C. formally admitted 3/11; Taiwan, a founding member of bank, protests change in its official designation from "Republic of China" to "Taipei, China."
  • Apr. 8: Reagan Administration informs U.S. Congress of intent to sell P.R.C. $550 million in aviation electronics, in largest military sale to Beijing since 1972.
  • July 17: John F. Burns, New York Times Beijing bureau chief, is taken into custody by Chinese security officials, charged with espionage stemming from motorcycle trip through areas restricted to foreigners; expelled 7/23.
  • Nov. 5-11: Three U.S. Navy warships make a port visit at Qingdao, China, first American military vessels to visit China since 1949.
  • Dec. 4: David N. Laux to become Chairman of American Institute in Taiwan.


  • Jan. 8: David Dean assumed his duties as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Taipei Office.
  • Feb. 28: U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz arrives in Hong Kong; 3/1 begins a 5-day trip to Chinese cities. Deputy Prime Minister Li Peng 3/2 informs Shultz China has no intention of retreating from its opening to the West or its partial adoption of free-market measures. Shultz meets with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping 3/3.
  • July 14: Taiwan's Martial law is lifted 7/14, allowing formation of new political parties, ending military censorship and trial of citizens by military court.
  • Oct. 22: U.S. announces it will not sell certain high-technology products to China in retaliation for China's sale of Silkworm missiles to Iran.


  • Jan. 13: Chiang Ching-kuo, Taiwan's president since 1978, dies of heart attack. Chiang is succeeded immediately by Lee Teng-hui, who had been vice president. Zhao Ziyang, Chinese Communist Party general secretary, sends condolences 1/14, praises Chiang's efforts to reunify China.


  • May 8: James Roderick Lilley as Ambassador to P.R.C..
  • June 2: 100,000 demonstrate in Tienanmen Square. Demonstrators violently confront soldiers and police 6/3. Chinese troops begin all-out assault on Tienanmen Square shortly after midnight 6/4. Troops are reported to slay hundreds of demonstrators; soldiers are also reported to have been beaten and killed by protesters. Demonstrators are ordered to leave square at about 4:00 am; they vote to comply. Government announces "rebellion has been suppressed." Protests erupt 6/4 in Taipei, Hong Kong and Macao. Chinese troops sporadically fire on civilians in Beijing 6/5-8.
  • June 5: President Bush announces sanctions against Chinese government, including suspension of military sales.
  • Oct. 28: Former President Richard Nixon travels to China for private talks with Chinese leaders.
  • Nov. 30: President Bush vetoes bill passed by Congress to permit all Chinese citizens in U.S. on student visas to remain until 6/90.
  • Dec. 9: U.S. mission headed by National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger arrives in Beijing for meeting with Chinese leadership.


  • June 16: U.S. Under-Secretary of State Reginald Bartholomew visited Beijing to seek curb on arms sales to Third World countries, a growing irritant in U.S.-P.R.C. relations.
  • Aug. 20: J. Stapleton Roy as Ambassador to P.R.C..
  • Nov. 15-17: U.S. Secretary of James Baker visited Beijing to discuss issues on trade, human rights, and arms sales in the bilateral relationship.


  • June 2: U.S. extends Most-Favored-Nation status to China.



  • April 11: President Clinton's letter to congressional leaders on rhinoceros and tiger trade by China and Taiwan. Trade sanctions against Taiwan. (under the Pelly Amendment)
  • Sept. 27: Taiwan policy review--Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.











  • Apr. 21: Kelly Says Taiwan Relations Act Key to West Pacific Stability: State Department official's April 21 Congressional testimony
  • Nov. 10: U.S. Reiterates Firm Commitment to One-China Policy: Welcomes "constructive points" in Chen Shui-bian's speech



  • Jan. 11: AIT Director Douglas H. Paal Announces Departure (January 25, 2006)
  • Jan. 30: No Changes in U.S. Policy Toward China, Taiwan, State Dept. Says: Spokesman says United States opposes unilateral efforts to change status quo
  • Feb. 11: Stephen M. Young Appointed as Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan
  • Feb. 25: AIT Announced Appointment of Raymond F. Burghardt as Chairman of the Board of the American Institute in Taiwan
  • Mar. 3: Statement by Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman, U.S. Department of State on Senior Taiwan Officials' Comments on National Unification Council
  • Mar. 18: Stephen M. Young Assumes Duties as Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan
  • Jun. 8: U.S. Pleased by Taiwan President's Pledges on Cross-Strait Issues: Chen's promise not to push for change aids stability, State Department says
  • Sep. 13: United States Aims To Preserve Peace, Stability in Taiwan Strait: State's coordinator for Taiwan policy urges dialogue between China, Taiwan
  • Nov. 17: Panel Urges Congressional Action on U.S.-China Security Issues: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission releases 2006 report