- CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters)
- President Bush said on Friday the United States would use its influence
to ensure China and Taiwan settle their differences peacefully and promised
to make it clear to Taipei that Washington does not support independence.
- In a news conference with Chinese President Jiang Zemin,
Bush said the United States stood by the "one China" policy,
which acknowledges that Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait maintain
there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.
- "The 'one China' policy means that the issue ought
to be resolved peacefully," Bush said.
- "We've got influence with some in the region. We
intend to make sure that the issue is resolved peacefully, and that includes
making it clear that we do not support independence," Bush added.
- Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, has voiced support
for a referendum on formal independence from China.
- The move outraged Beijing, which views the island as
a renegade province and a linchpin in Sino-U.S. relations.
- Beijing had hoped Bush would repeat a pledge not to back
independence for Taiwan, which China says must eventually be reunified
with the mainland, by force if necessary.
- Nationalists headed by Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan
in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's communists. Washington
shifted diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.
- But the United States has offered Taiwan the biggest
arms package in a decade and Bush has pledged to do "whatever it takes"
to help the democratically governed island protect itself.
- Bush did not repeat that pledge at Friday's news conference.
- But during a visit to China earlier this year, he said,
"When my country makes an agreement, we stick with it, and there is
(something) called the Taiwan Relations Act and I honor that act, which
says we will help Taiwan defend herself if provoked."
- China says it is seriously concerned about the U.S. warming
to Taiwan under Bush and has called on Washington to halt military contacts
and arms sales to the island.