Rattled Taiwanese officials have fresh assurances that President Clinton did not negotiate away the U.S. commitment to the democratically run island during his talks in China.
There was no communique, no written statement simply to make sure Taiwanese leaders did not get the wrong idea, the State Department said Monday.Clinton's recitation in Shanghai last week of what is known as the "three no's" - no U.S. support for an independent Taiwan, no recognition for a separate Taiwan government and no support for Taiwan's entry into international organizations - upset the leadership in Taipei.
Clinton was the first president to make the statement, though Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she herself had made a similar statement in the past.
The U.S. relationship with Taiwan will not change, Albright said on CNN. But she also stressed, "Our policy will continue to be a one-China policy."
China views Taiwan as a renegade province to be absorbed when conditions are right. Some in Taiwan hope for independence, others for at least separate treatment, including possibly a seat in the United Nations or in other international bodies.
Clinton ruled that out with the "three no's."
At the same time, the president did not negotiate Taiwan's status with Chinese leaders and no communique was issued because one might have left the impression the president reached some understanding with the Communist government on Taiwan's future, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said.
For instance, Rubin said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan would be continued.
"We will continue to pursue what we think is a policy that advances the interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, and that is encouraging a peaceful resolution of this issue," he said.
In Beijing, a Chinese spokesman said Tuesday that U.S.-China relations "can develop smoothly and steadily" as long as the two countries "conscientiously" adhere to the communiques setting forth positions on Taiwan.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., who held off criticizing Clinton while he was in China, plans to schedule action later this month on a package of bills designed to penalize the communist country, Republican lawmakers and aides said.
Still, some Republicans suggested the fact that Clinton had discussed human rights and other divisive issues publicly while in China may have strengthened his hand in dealing with Congress.
For one thing, it probably helped him pick up support for extending most-favored-nation trade status to China, suggested Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., one of Congress' most outspoken critics of the administration's China policy.
"I think there's going to be a fuzzy feeling for a while, but none of the underlying realities have changed," Hutchinson said.