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Armitage: US not required to defend Taiwan
Updated: 2004-12-23 11:43

The "peaceful rising of China" will most likely be the most important event on the world scene in the first half of the 21st century, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said.

In a farewell interview with PBS' Charlie Rose December 20, Armitage said China's impact will be momentous, in terms of the energy it will need, the raw materials it will require, and the power of its growing middle class.

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (left) speaks at a briefing for reporters in Beijing in this January 30, 2004 file photo as US Ambassador to China Clark Randt looks on. Armitage said in an interview with PBS that Taiwan is the "biggest landmine" in China-US relations and the United States is not obligated to defend Taiwan. [AP]
On obstacles to the China-US relations, he acknowledged Taiwan issue is the "biggest landmine."

"I would say Taiwan. Taiwan is one. It's probably the biggest," Armitage said in the interview.

When asked if the United States defend Taiwan if a war breaks out, Armitage said the United States is not required to do so, according to a transcript of the interview issued by the State Department (http://www.state.gov/s/d/rm/39973.htm).

The "Taiwan Relations Act" requires the United States to keep sufficient force in the Pacific to be able to deter attack, but "we are not required to defend. And these are questions that actually reside with the U.S. Congress, who has to declare an act of war."

"We all agree that there is but one China, and Taiwan is part of China," he said. "We are guided in our own relationship with China by three communiques, which have been negotiated by successive administrations, and the Taiwan Relations Act."

Media reports say Taiwan is somewhat upset about Deputy Secretary Armitage's remarks and is seeking clarifications, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Armitage¡¯s remarks reflect the US policy.

¡°We would tell them (Taiwan) that all he's done is restate U.S. policy in very familiar terms,¡± Boucher said at press briefing in Washington on December 22.

¡°We all know that Taiwan is an important issue to many countries, to us. And it's an issue that comes up in not only our bilateral relationship with China, but in the region as well. So we -- it's an issue that we spend a lot of time working on and we try to help people move towards a peaceful dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the issues.¡±

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