Beijing decries US spin on communique

08:13, November 27, 2009      

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The Foreign Ministry returned fire in a war of words with the chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan over an interpretation of a joint statement issued after last week's meeting between US President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao.

"Taiwan is an inseparable part of China," said ministry spokesman Qin Gang. "Respecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity certainly applies to Taiwan."

Qin was responding to Raymond Burghardt's remarks on Tuesday that the US government admits that the autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Tibet are parts of the mainland, but that the island of Taiwan is not mentioned in the communiqu.

Burghardt also said, with respect to the joint communiqus signed by the US and China in 1972 and 1979, that simply because US "acknowledges" that Taiwan is part of China, it does not mean that the US "recognizes or accepts" that the island is one with the mainland.

The language in the documents from the 1970s state that the US "acknowledges there is only one China, and Taiwan is part of China".

Burghardt's controversial remarks are an indirect explanation for his statement earlier this week that the US will sell jetfighters to Taiwan.

Mainland officials expressed strong dissatisfaction on Wednesday of the announcement of the arms sale.

"China firmly opposes the US' arms sales to Taiwan," said Yang Yi, spokesman of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office. "China's stance on this matter is consistent, clear and resolute."

Burghardt was also hoping to soothe Taiwan politicians who are worried about a possible shift in US policy toward Taiwan, said Tao Wenzhao, a US studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The US regards it as a matter of credit to keep its promise to guard Taiwan's safety, as it is written in the Taiwan Relations Act," Tao said.

The Taiwan Relations Act was passed in 1979 by the US Congress but has never been recognized by China.

"Taiwan becomes nervous every time the mainland and the US meet," said Tao. "Taiwan fears the US will change its attitudes toward it."

The mainland's stance on the island was affirmed yesterday when foreign ministry officials urged Myanmar authorities to protect the safety and rights of Chinese sailors recently detained by the Myanmar navy.

The ministry called on Myanmar to appropriately handle the issue.

Four Taiwan sailors and one mainland fisherman were seized for alleged illegal fishing, Qin said yesterday.

The five were among 128 members of 10 fishing boats intercepted by Myanmar's navy on Nov 18 probably because they had intruded into Myanmar's exclusive economic zone.

The Chinese embassy in Myanmar is carrying out an investigation into details of the incident and has requested a visit to the detained Chinese, Qin said.

"We have been consistent in protecting the safety and rights of overseas Chinese, no matter if they are from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan," Qin said.

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