During his brief visit to China, Secretary of State Colin Powell aseserted that the US does not regard Taiwan as an independent country and that there
is only one China. Powell made further remarks in two television interviews to the effect that the reunification of China is a goal shared by the US,
China and Taiwan. The comments drew loud protests from the Taiwanese government which has relied on a muted American neutrality since 1972. Taiwan
accused the US of initiating a major policy shift without warning. Mainland China officials were pleased with the remarks.
Powell, in a pair of television interviews Monday in Beijing, said the United States holds there is only one China and that Taiwan is not an
independent nation. He went on to suggest that Taiwanese and Americans as well as Chinese are seeking to bring about the island's reunification with
Alarmed, Taiwan's leaders immediately cried foul, accusing Powell of springing an unfair surprise with a major policy shift in one of the world's
most volatile areas and reaffirming their passionate insistence that the island is independent, in fact if not in law.
"Other countries, with or without formal diplomatic relations with us, cannot affect or deny the current situation and the fact that the Republic of
China, or Taiwan, is a sovereign, independent country," President Chen Shui-bian told reporters in Taipei on Tuesday.
Chinese officials, who regard Taiwan as a province that must reintegrate with the mainland at any price -- including war -- could scarcely conceal
their satisfaction. Powell's views, expressed after a morning of meetings with senior Chinese leaders during which Taiwan was a principal topic,
closely matched their own.
"Some people have said Powell made a slip of the tongue, but I don't believe it," Zhang Mingqing, spokesman for the government's Taiwan Affairs
Office, said at a briefing Wednesday.
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These comments come at a time of elevated tensions in the far east arising from the controversy over the North Korean nuclear program. In making
this expression of explicit support for the Chinese perspective, it is unclear whether the Bush administration is seeking Chinese support for the US
North Korean policy or making a deal to prop the US dollar. China is perhaps the largest investor in US currency and has recently been dumping the
dollar in favour of acquiring commodities. For example, China has recently announced its intention to invest heavily in Canadian natural resources.
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[edit on 27-10-2004 by Banshee]
[edit on 27-10-2004 by G_Scard]