The early months of the Bush administration did not go particularly well
between China and America. You had the spy plane incident. Looking back, do you
think that America could have handled that incident much better? ...
I can certainly say that the incident has caused serious damage to bilateral
relations. This is something that the Chinese side didn't want to see. However,
due to the joint efforts of the two sides, there's been some improvement in
Sino-U.S. relations recently. This has not come about easily. We hope both
sides will cherish and sustain this improvement in relations.
But why were the two sides so belligerent in those very first few days after
the incident? Why did it become almost a major crisis?
I think we should recognize that China and the United States both want to
improve and develop their relationship, but there are some sensitive elements
in the Sino-U.S. relationship, which will sometimes lead to certain
disturbances. Over recent years, you know that both parties in the U.S., the
Republicans and the Democrats, have both had the same policy towards developing
and improving Sino-U.S. relations.
Since being elected, even the Bush administration has shown a positive attitude
to the further development of bilateral relations. For instance, they have said
that they recognize the importance of the relationship with China, that China
should not be regarded as an enemy, that the U.S. should avoid hostility and
further confrontations with China; and that they wish to see constructive
relations between the two countries. We take all this very seriously.
On the other hand, frankly speaking, there are also differences of opinion
between the two countries. The important question is how to handle these
differences. No one should take a tough attitude just because these differences
create problems. That will not contribute to the solution of the problems.
Basically, I think what we should focus on are the major common interests
between the two countries, which are important and wide-ranging, for instance,
to safeguard peace and stability in the Asian Pacific region and to improve
world economic development and prosperity. Also, we both want a better
environment and less pollution. We both want to fight against transnational
crimes, etc. In those areas, we have important common interests, and we should
cooperate further in those fields. ...
Recently you must have noticed the frequent exchange of high-level visits
between the two countries. President Jiang talked with President Bush over the
phone, and also the American secretary of state recently made a visit to China.
It has just been announced that Mr. Tang, our foreign minister, is going to
visit the United States. So the exchange of high-level visits has increased.
At the same time, relations in trade and other areas are improving. We have
also had much more consultation on international issues. These are all good
developments, and we should encourage them.
But there are problems, too, like Taiwan non-cooperation -- the fact that the
United States has violated its commitments, exerted pressure on us, and damaged
China's interests. We are strongly against all of this, and have made our views
known very clearly. ...
There are clearly elements within the Bush administration, and certainly
within Congress, who see China as the next great enemy for America. Is that a
fair way to look at China today?
We think China is not an enemy of the United States, and neither is the United
States an enemy of China. I said just now that the Bush administration has
already stated clearly that China is not the enemy of the U.S., and this view
was also expressed by the Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, during his recent
visit to China.
Now, after the end of the Cold War, we should not need to look for enemies.
Doing so could only damage the basic interests of our people and our two
countries. It would be against the interests of the U.S. as well. ...
If you are not the enemy, or a future enemy, why does America have
surveillance planes going up and down your border? Surely, isn't that the
action of someone who regards you as a future enemy?
I think you should address that question to the United States. I think that the
U.S. should match its actions to its words. ... We have always opposed surveillance flights by the United States off the shores
of China. We have made that quite clear. We are consistent and clear-cut about
it. That has always been our policy, and it will never change. ...
During the election campaign, President Bush made it absolutely clear on
television that he would do everything he could to defend Taiwan. What is
China's view about that?
The Taiwan question is a sensitive and important issue at the center of
Sino-U.S. relations. The United States has made solemn commitments to China on
various occasions, and that is the foundation for the extension of diplomatic
relations between the two countries.
For instance, there are the three joint communiques between China and the U.S.,
in which the U.S. has made an undertaking that they will follow the principle
of "one China." In the past, various U.S. administrations have made
undertakings on the Taiwan issue on many occasions. Therefore, I think what the
United States should do is stick to the policy of "one China," keep to their
undertakings under the three joint communiqués, and keep their other
promises on the Taiwan issue, rather than violating those promises.
We've noticed the reports of remarks made by President Bush and the U.S.
government, but we have also noticed that there are people in the United States
opposed to these remarks, because these kind of remarks do not match up with
Taiwan is Chinese territory, and the Taiwan issue belongs to the internal
affairs of China. No foreign country should interfere in the Taiwan question.
The United States has made many promises to China on the Taiwan issue, and they
should honor their words, rather than undermining the commitments they've
Generally speaking, we are optimistic about the future of Sino-U.S. relations,
because we have common interests, and developing bilateral relations is in
the interests of the U.S. itself. So we are optimistic about it. ... Only if
the U.S. can deal with this issue properly will we see the further development
of bilateral relations. Otherwise, the Sino-U.S. relationship will always be to
be troubled and harmed.
But don't you see that you could make your relations with America so much
better if you gave up your announcement that would use military force to take
Taiwan if they ever declared independence? Why do you not renounce your use of
force? Because that will do more than any single thing to improve relations
I know there are people in the United States who use China's failure to
renounce the use of force against Taiwan as an excuse for the U.S. to support
Taiwan and sell arms to Taiwan. But their arguments cannot hold water.
Can I just say that that gives the impression to the Americans that China is
a bully? It is a threatening power. It's is a communist power which is
threatening a small, tiny island. That, for an American, is a very disturbing
Your impression, if you will permit me to say so, is totally wrong. It suggests
that the United States is very keen on a peaceful solution to the Taiwan issue,
while mainland China wants to use military force. I think this is a
misunderstanding which gives a totally wrong impression.
Actually, no one in the world is more eager than China to find a peaceful
solution to the Taiwan question. We have always advocated peaceful
reunification on the principle of "one China, two systems." Even after the
tremendous changes last year in Taiwan, we still advocate this principle, and
hope to try our best to seek a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question. This
is our basic principle and it has remained unchanged.
It is just because we want to solve the Taiwan question peacefully that we
cannot give up the use of force. If we give up the use of force, that will only
make a peaceful solution impossible. For instance, if the Taiwan separatists
declare Taiwan independent, then how do we react? ...
Furthermore, it's entirely China's own internal affair if we deploy military
equipment on our own soil. The purpose of such action is to safeguard China's
security, to defend its territorial integrity and uphold the country's peace
and stability. This is quite understandable.
However, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are quite another matter. They totally
violate the promises made by the United States. We know that under the August
17 communiqué, there are clear provisions in this regard, in which the
U.S. undertakes that it does not seek a long-term policy of arms sales to
Taiwan. The U.S. government also undertook not to increase its arms sales to Taiwan,
either in quantity or in quality, based on the levels of recent years since the
establishment of diplomatic relations. That should lead to a gradual reduction
in sales over a period of time, which would eventually solve the problem
However, what the U.S. did in reality was not what it said. In recent years,
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have increased both in quality and in quantity. So
this shows who is really to blame here. What the United States has done is
interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's sovereignty, and
most importantly, added further to serious tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
At the same time, they have further increased the difficulty of achieving a
peaceful resolution in Taiwan. In doing so, the United States hasn't only
damaged China's interests; they have damaged their own interests, too.
Therefore, we hope that the United States will come to a better understanding
of the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, and the damage done by their arms
sales. They should change their course, stop selling arms to Taiwan, and seek a
proper solution to this issue. This will improve the chances of a peaceful
resolution in Taiwan, and improve long-term Sino-U.S. relations.
But there is, in Taiwan, a strong movement towards independence. They have
fought for democracy. If they do declare independence, what will China's
Just to clarify that, it's true that there is a movement for independence on
Taiwan island, but its not at all a strong trend. In Taiwan, there are more and
more people who support the "one country, two systems" formula.
The key thing at the moment is that the leaders of the Taiwan government do not
adequately recognize the "one China" principle. They deny the 1992 oral
understanding between us, which states that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait
should both use oral expression to maintain the principle of "one China."
Actually, if the Taiwan leader can acknowledge the "one China" principle, and
recognize the 1992 consensus, then talks across the Taiwan Strait can be
resumed immediately. However, if he's bent on having his own way, and denies
the principle of "one China" -- or even goes as far as what you said and declares
independence -- then our answer is very clear-cut. We will not allow it to
The final solution of the Taiwan question and the ultimate reunification of the
motherland is in the common interest of the people of China -- that is the 1.3
billion Chinese people, including those on Taiwan island. No force can stand in
the way of this.
I understand. But just to clarify that... If the leadership in Taiwan
declared independence, you say you could not let that happen. The Defense
Department in America worries that if that did happen, your response would be
to use the many missiles you have got along the coast opposite Taiwan, and that
would be much more devastating than the bombardment of the islands that
happened in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Is that the sort of response you would
I have made our stand quite clear: Taiwanese independence is equal to war.
That's why the United States should not support this movement; should not
support independence for Taiwan. We, the two sides, should make joint efforts
to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue.
But what Americans can't understand is why you worry about Taiwan. It's a
relatively small island. You have a huge territory with many potential
problems. Why worry about a small island which is trading very well with you,
and relations are OK? Why do you care about Taiwan?
... The Americans should change their habit of always seeing things in their
own terms, and trying to impose their own views about how to solve this Taiwan
issue. This is not right.
Why? Because China is a country with a fine history over 5,000 years or more.
Its tradition has always stressed national unity. Taiwan has always been part
of China's territory. It was only for a short period, at the end of nineteenth
century after the Sino-Japanese War, that it was taken by Japan.
However, after the Second World War, Taiwan was returned to China. What
happened after that was due to the civil war within China. As I mentioned just
now, the 1.3 billion Chinese people want unification, and the majority of
people in Taiwan also want unification. They support "one county, two systems."
Under these circumstances, I don't understand why there are people in the
United States who think that Taiwan should be separated from China. This is
what I cannot understand. ...
I suspect that why the Americans are so interested in Taiwan, and many
people say they should support Taiwan, is that Taiwan is a democracy. If only
China could become a democracy, all our problems would be solved; but that
America, with its history, could never not come to the support of a democratic
... Regarding democracy, both the United States and China have their own views
on the question of democracy. We can only say that the system in Taiwan is more
like that in the United States. But even in the so-called democratic countries
-- the Western countries like the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and
Japan -- is the democratic system the same in all those countries? They are not
all the same.
It's the view of the United States that China is an undemocratic country, but
that is only according to U.S. standards. In China, we think that we have our
own style of democracy.
Taiwan is only a part of China, and it's not a separate country at all. We have
a very clear policy of "one country, two systems." This means that after Taiwan
and China have achieved unification, Taiwan can still maintain its present
political and social systems, as well as its economic system and so on. So the
United States has no reason whatever to worry about Taiwan's future.
It could retain its own freedoms, its own democracy, its own free
Yes, it can. Before Hong Kong returned to China, many people in the U.S. and
other Western countries said that China would not really carry out the "one
country, two systems" policy. Now, every year since Hong Kong's return, the
United States, E.U., and Great Britain have issued reports which acknowledge that
China has implemented the policy in earnest in Hong Kong. There's a good
Macao has now returned to China, too, and I think people can recognize that
we've kept our promises there, too. This policy is in China's interest, and the
United States has no reason whatsoever to worry about it.
President Bush and many Americans think that every country has the right to
defend itself if they are attacked. Therefore, what is the problem with a
missile defense shield, which is clearly not aggressive, which is purely
defensive, and is purely protecting America and its democratic allies?
Frankly speaking, we are opposed to the missile defense system advocated by the
United States. You said that its a defensive system and why shouldn't they have
it? Because we believe that the U.S. and Russia already possess the biggest
nuclear arsenals in the world. The U.S. wants to have this so-called missile
defense system, but actually it may not be only a question of defense; it could
also become an element in their attacking capability.
The result is that this policy will create an unstable situation in the world
balance of power. This could easily create a new arms race and bring a series
of negative consequences. That's why we cannot agree with it, and why we are
not in favor of the missile defense system.
The United States has alleged that, after the end of the Cold War, there is a
new danger: this so-called missile threat. But are any of these so-called rogue
states who are identified by the U.S. really capable of sending missiles
directly at the United States? It's very doubtful. ...
Why is stopping a missile from hitting your country is an aggressive act? I
don't think many people in America can see that.
Actually, I believe that the U.S. experts know the story well enough. The
United States signed the ABM treaty with the old U.S.S.R., now the Russians.
This ABM treaty was actually a foundation for the stability and the balance of
If the United States is in possession of a large number of offensive weapons,
and at the same time is in possession of a defense system, it simply means that
the U.S. holds a much bigger offensive force than other countries. Is that a
simple enough explanation? I think the U.S. experts and the Americans
understand this very well.
So what will China do if President Bush decides, despite your views, to go
ahead and deploy theatre and nuclear missile shields?
To ensure the safety of China's own sovereignty and territorial integrity, we
must ensure that our nuclear arsenal is effective. We are opposed to the
theater missile defense system, especially the fact that the U.S. wants to
include Taiwan in the T.M.D. system. Our position on this is clear-cut.
Just to be clear, does that mean that if President Bush goes ahead, you will need more nuclear missiles?
China will not enter into an arms race, but we will ensure the effectiveness of
our nuclear weapons. ...
A lot of people, who are your friends in America, believe that if they can
work with China, if they can trade with China, economic developments will be
such in China that you would inevitably become a democracy. Therefore, China
will eventually be our close friend and ally. And yet in the interview, you've
said we have our two separate systems. Does that mean there will never be
democracy in China?
China is now developing a democratic and legal system with socialist
characteristics. We are also undertaking the reform of the political system,
which is the most important part of the reform. Now the Chinese people enjoy
more democracy than at any time in Chinese history. However, this democracy is
not what the West regards as the Western style of democracy. China should
develop its own democracy in the light of China's national conditions.
China is ready to collaborate with the U.S. in all sorts of areas -- including,
as you have said, trade and business -- to develop our ties with the United
States, to seek further development and increase the prosperity of both our
countries. But if they try to use these links as a method of changing us, then
they will fail to achieve their purpose.
Different social systems and different kinds of democracy can live side by side
with each other. We can learn from each other's good qualities and make up for
each other's shortcomings. Our purpose is to seek to develop together, to
improve on both sides, but not to try to change the other side. If we were all
identical to each other, then the world would not be a very colorful place.
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