Singapore, June 2 (CNA) U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised warming relations between Taiwan and China Saturday in a speech explaining the United States' new defense strategy and its shift in emphasis to the Asia-Pacific region.
In his remarks, Panetta rejected the idea that the increased emphasis is a kind of challenge to China and said that "increased U.S. involvement in this region will benefit China as it advances our shared security and prosperity for the future."
In that context, he said, "we strongly support the efforts that both China and Taiwan[, both] have made in recent years trying to improve cross-strait relations."
The defense secretary also noted the United States' "enduring interest in peace and stability" in the strait, while making it clear that Washington "remains firm in the adherence to a one-China policy based on the Three Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act."
At the forum, called Shangri-La Dialogue, attended by senior civilian and military leaders from about 30 Asia-Pacific countries, Panetta said China also has a critical role to play in advancing security by "respecting the rules-based order that has served the region for six decades."
Liu Fu-kuo, a researcher at the Institute of International Relations of Taiwan-based National Chengchi University, who was also present at the forum, told CNA that Panetta's wording in the speech did not go beyond the U.S.'s basic tone.
He was surprised a bit, however, by Panetta's move to bring up cross-strait relations in his speech, but believed the remarks were to demonstrate America's firm support for efforts to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait links.
(By Tang Pei-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)