U.S. cuts 'does not support independence' line from Taiwan fact sheet

05/10/2022 12:52 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, May 10 (CNA) A fact sheet on Taiwan-U.S. relations posted on the United States Department of State website recently removed previous statements saying that Washington acknowledged Beijing's "one China" position and did not support Taiwanese independence.

The update, which came on May 5, was made by the department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The previous version of the document opened with the statement: "The United States and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship."

It said the U.S. acknowledged "the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China," and that the U.S. "does not support Taiwan independence."

In the updated version, however, the acknowledgement of China's position and the U.S. position on Taiwan independence has been removed, and the document now opens with: "As a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific."

The new version still acknowledged that the Taiwan-U.S. relationship is unofficial, and added that the U.S. "has a longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three US-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances."

Update: Fact sheet updates do not reflect change in Taiwan policy: U.S.

The first of the three Joint Communiques, signed in 1972, contains one of the parts deleted from the fact sheet. In it, the U.S. acknowledged that "all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China."

Instead of not supporting Taiwan independence, the fact sheet now says the U.S. encourages a peaceful resolution to differences between Taipei and Beijing that is "consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan."

Asked to comment Tuesday on the updates and why they were made, Ed Dunn, a spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan, sidestepped the questions.

He merely reiterated the U.S. stance on Taiwan by saying that Washington's "one China" policy has been guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, for over four decades.

"Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region," he said.

The United States, he said, is committed to deepening unofficial relations with Taiwan, which he described as a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner of the U.S.

Foreign ministry's response

Citing AIT's statement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said Tuesday that the U.S. government has announced that its policy toward Taiwan has not changed.

Taiwan will continue to deepen relations with the U.S. and to enhance its self-defense capabilities and its freedom and democratic system to promote cross-strait peace and security, she said.

Meanwhile, Yeh Yao-Yuan (葉耀元), chair of International Studies & Modern Languages at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, wrote on his Facebook page that the updates to the fact sheet signify a "striking warming of relations" between the two countries, mainly due to growing tensions between the U.S. and China.

Even though the U.S. still upheld its one-China policy and strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, Yeh said the U.S. is now seeing Taiwan more as an important economic, security, and democratic partner and is more open to Taiwanese making their own decision about their future.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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