Cohen Again Urges China, Taiwan to End War of Words
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
TOKYO, March 17, 2000 On the eve of Taiwan's presidential election, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen again called for an end to the "verbal jousting" between Taiwan and China.
The People’s Republic of China is trying to affect the outcome of Taiwan's election by a "show of words," rather than a show of force, Cohen told reporters at the Japan National Press Club here March 17. "We do not see any evidence of preparations for an imminent attack," he said. "What we do see is something of a war of words.”
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji has vowed not to allow Taiwan to become independent. A policy paper published recently threatened military action against Taiwan if reunification talks were delayed.
Cohen said he doubts that China's rhetoric will have the desired effect of influencing the Taiwanese people. "I think they will make their judgments based on the qualities of the candidates and what they see as the future relationship with China."
Cohen said U.S. policy on China "has been quite clear and unequivocal," Cohen said. The United States does not support Taiwan independence. “We support a ‘one-China policy'… we also support the Taiwan Relations Act." The act is the basis for continued commercial, cultural and other relations between the United States and Taiwan
Cohen said he has tried to convey to the Chinese leadership that "the best way to resolve the issue is for China and Taiwan to lower their rhetoric, to pull back from this escalation of verbal jousting," he said. Both must "resist the temptation to try to intimidate through the use of military force, allow the elections to proceed and then get back to the task of negotiations."
If China increases military pressure or takes action that threatens Taiwan, that will only put pressure on the U.S. Congress to respond by saying Taiwan needs additional defense capabilities, Cohen said. "Then the escalation continues."
"The best way to resolve this is for both sides to back away from this confrontational pose and get back to the business of trying to peacefully reconcile the differences," he concluded.