The United States took a decisive step closer toward deepening its long-term strategic ties to Taiwan this week.
A senior U.S. State Department official announced that “a new bilateral economic dialogue,” is being established between the United States and Taiwan. The dialogue will include “the full spectrum of our economic relationship…with technology at the core.”
At the same time, the U.S. sent a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that Americas support for Taiwan is firmly rooted in historical precedent, and presidential power and prerogative.
The Six Assurances
David Stilwell, Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, addressing the Heritage Foundation by virtual forum Monday, said that Taiwan “is a vision of how much the Chinese people can achieve.”
“Until recently,” Stilwell said, “Hong Kong provided a similar vision.”
Stilwells comment refers to how the National Security Law imposed by the CCP on July 1 of this year changed the situation in Hong Kong. The law effectively deprives the territorys citizens of their right to free speech and political protest, which they had been guaranteed until 2047 under the terms of the handover treaty that defined Hong Kongs reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
In summarizing the economic, diplomatic, and military activity between the United States and Taiwan in recent months, Stilwell emphasized that Americas relations with Taiwan are grounded not only in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, but also in a set of principles outlined by U.S. President Ronald Reagan during his first term in office.
That framework is enshrined in a recently declassified cable sent from the U.S. State Department to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Aug. 17, 1982.
AIT is the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, established after the United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the Peoples Republic of China as the legitimate government of China in 1979. AIT is a private, non-profit corporation through which, by contract, the U.S. government conducts its official affairs in Taiwan.
The opening line of the cable reads, “Concerning Taiwans request to make public President Reagans assurances.”
The cable instructs AIT to tell Taiwanese officials that in their public statement, “there should of course be no linkage to President Reagan.”
Therefore, Taiwans officials could only broadcast that their understanding of the American position came through “appropriate channels.”
Thus, although what are called the “Six Assurances” have been known for nearly 40 years, and even codified into a House of Representatives resolution in 2016, the proof that they formed the bedrock of Reagans personal approach to Taiwan has now been declassified.
The Six Assurances include an American commitment to not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, and a promise that the U.S. “has not agreed to prior consultation with Beijing” on any arms sales that the United States might make to Taiwan.
The assurances also state that the United States hasnt agreed “on any mediation role between Beijing and Taipei,” and that the United States “has not agreed to revise the Taiwan Relations Act.”
Finally, the United States reassured Taiwan that it “has not agreed to take any position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan,” and that it “will never pressure Taiwan to negotiate with Beijing.”
U.S.-Taiwan Activity Accelerates
Stilwell recapped the depth and variety of U.S.-Taiwan official and commercial engagement over the last few months.
Most significant diplomatically was Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azars trip to Taiwan in mid-August.
Azar is the highest ranked U.S. government official to visit TaiRead More From Source