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Bush vows defense of Taipei

While President Bush reiterated his vow to defend Taiwan if attacked, one of his party’s leaders was slamming the U.S. “one China” policy that supports Beijing’s claim on the island nation.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay criticized the policy in a speech, calling it a “diplomatic contrivance” that has been elevated to the status of “doctrine” by some officials over the years.

In yesterday’s edition, the Taipei Times said DeLay, a Texas Republican, did not level his criticism at the Bush administration, but rather the U.S. policy of historically deferring to Beijing instead of Taipei.

In remarks to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., DeLay called China’s takeover of Taiwan “inconceivable” and said U.S. and Pacific region security was tied to the security of the island democracy.

The majority leader’s remarks, meanwhile, came a day after President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao reaffirmed Washington’s “one China” policy during a sideline meeting at the G8 summit in Evian, France, though the White House reportedly stood firm on its previous position to defend Taiwan.

“The president repeated our policy of a ‘one China’ policy based on the three communiqu?s, the Taiwan Relations Act and no support for Taiwan’s independence,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying by the paper. “The president said we don’t support independence.”

China “basically accepted that, and said, OK, that’s positive,” the official said, adding that Bush explained “in that context, if necessary, we will help Taiwan to the extent possible to defend itself” in the event it is attacked.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has repeatedly threatened to retake the island by force, if necessary, especially if it formally declares independence. Also known as the Republic of China, Taiwan has been ruled separate from the communist system in Beijing since 1949.

In his remarks, DeLay described China as a “backward, corrupt anachronism run by decrepit tyrants” and its leaders as “oppressive and dangerous men” with a “murderous ideology.” He said “the proposition of a communist takeover of Taiwan should be inconceivable.”

“Some have wanted to transform this diplomatic nuance into a recognition of Beijing’s territorial claim over Taiwan: a recognition that has not and never will exist,” said DeLay.

“Others believe America’s primary objective in Asia is the preservation of the ‘one China’ policy, but the ‘one China’ policy, like the peace process in the Middle East, is a means to an end, not the end itself,” he added. “Luckily, we now have a president who understands the foreign policy of a great nation must be a rock of moral and political clarity, not a pillow of diplomatic pretensions.”

Chinese officials dismissed DeLay’s remarks.

“It would be better for a U.S. government spokesperson to explain,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue.

Since the mid-1990s, China has engaged in a military modernization program aimed at upgrading its combat effectiveness and capabilities, with an aim toward competing with the United States’ technological superiority.

To threaten Taiwan, China has also deployed hundreds of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles directly opposite the island, a ploy U.S. and Taiwanese military officials say is designed to overwhelm Taiwan’s defenses before U.S. help arrives.

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