Kelly: Take Beijing's resolve seriously
The United States warned Taiwan on April 21 that its unilateral moves toward independence could destroy its economic and democratic "miracle" and urged Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian to take Beijing's resolve to thwart any separation act seriously.
But under questioning by members of the U.S. Congress, Kelly also said that if China moved militarily against Taiwan, Washington would view this with ˇ°grave concernˇ± and Bush 's earlier promise to "do whatever it took" to defend Taiwan would come into play.
While Washington strongly disagrees with China's approach, "it would be irresponsible of us and of Taiwan leaders to treat these statements as empty threats," he said.
Kelly said the U.S. "one China" policy of having official relations with Beijing while maintaining unofficial ties with Taiwan served the United States well for nearly three decades through numerous administrations, was in the U.S. national interest and could provoke serious friction if altered.
The Bush administration in recent months has become increasingly alarmed at Chen's comments on adoption of a new constitution and other steps that could be perceived as moving Taiwan toward independence.
Taiwan is historically and by all records an integral part of China, and Beijing has threatened to take military means to reunify the island with the mainland if Taiwan authorities declares formal independence.
Kelly reiterated at the inquiry meeting organized by the House International Relations Committee, that the United States does not support Taiwan independence.
"A unilateral move toward independence will avail Taiwan of nothing it does not already enjoy in terms of democratic freedom, autonomy, prosperity and security," he said.
"We look to Chen Shui-bian to exercise the kind of responsible, democratic and restrained leadership that will be necessary to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for Taiwan," he added.
A recount of the hotly contested Taiwan election is set to begin early next
month so it can be completed in time to determine if incumbent Chen Shui-bian
can take office on May 20.