New U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (CNA file photo)
Washington, Feb. 8 (CNA) New U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recently reaffirmed the Six Assurances regarding U.S. policy toward Taiwan in response to questions from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin before he won confirmation as secretary of state from the Senate on Feb. 1.
In the written responses, Tillerson said that the Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances provide the foundation for U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan. The United States should continue to uphold its one China policy and support a peaceful and mutually agreeable cross-Taiwan strait outcome.
He was replying to Cardin's question as to whether the principles of the communiques and the TRA remain the important foundations of the U.S.-China relationship and whether he believes that the One China policy remains valid, or needs revision.
Tillerson also said that if confirmed, he intends to support the one China policy. "The people of Taiwan are friends of the United States and should not be treated as a bargaining chip. The U.S. commitment to Taiwan is both a legal commitment and a moral imperative," he said.
The new secretary of state gave the answer when asked whether he is concerned that President Donald Trump's suggestion in a media interview last December that the one China policy is negotiable may have created the impression that Taiwan is nothing more than a bargaining chip and might undermine U.S. ability to support Taiwan and protect U.S. interests in peace and stability in the region.
Tillerson responded that under this policy, the U.S. recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China and acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.
As required by the TRA, the U.S. continues to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and maintains the capacity of the U.S. to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan, Tillerson wrote.
He noted that the United States also upholds the Six Assurances on U.S. policy toward Taiwan. If confirmed, he will continue these policies and work to ensure that the cross-strait military balance remains favorable to peace and stability, Tillerson said.
Tillerson first mentioned the Six Assurances at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Jan. 11.
Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan issued the Six Assurances in 1982.
The Six Assurances include U.S. pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan, and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.
They also include assurances that the U.S. will not revise the TRA, will not pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China and will not formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
(By Tony Liao and Evelyn Kao)