Taiwan shouldn't be obstacle in U.S.-China relations: Kissinger

Two former American diplomats placed the onus on China to diffuse tension in the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, following comments from Chinese officials claiming that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan may strain ties with China even as the two countries cooperate more closely.
Taiwan is the most important issue in relations between the U.S. and China, as they confront a global economic crisis that has highlighted their interdependence, the officials told former American diplomats Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski during a two-day celebration of 30 years of formal relations.
"Recently, some hard-won advances have been made in cross-strait relations," said Li Zhaoxing, who was China's foreign minister from 2003 to 2007. "We certainly don't want something like arms sales to disrupt" the progress.
China, with the world's largest regular army, has more than 900 missiles along its southeastern coast aimed at Taiwan. The Taiwanese military is planning to buy US$6.5 billion of U.S. weapons including Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Patriot anti-missile systems. China has frozen military exchanges with the U.S. since October over the arms sales.
The Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive one in relations between the two countries, Dai Bingguo, China's highest ranking official responsible for foreign relations, told the conference participants.
"I do not think Taiwan should be a fundamental obstacle to our relationship," Kissinger said yesterday on the sidelines of the conference. Kissinger served as secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and played a key role in Nixon's 1972 visit to China.
Brzezinski, 80, veteran diplomat who was national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter and advised President-elect Barack Obama during his campaign, also downplayed the importance of Taiwan in U.S.-China ties.
"The better the American-Chinese relationship, the less salient is the Taiwan issue and the easier it is for Taiwan and the mainland to establish an increasingly organic relationship," he told reporters yesterday.
Still, Kissinger acknowledged "there is likely to be some disagreement" over arms sales to Taiwan.
Brzezinksi and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft put the onus on China to take steps to decrease military tensions related to Taiwan.
"If the Chinese, for example, would pull back or eliminate some of the missiles directed at Taiwan, it would make it possible for the American president to say, 'Taiwan does not need additional arms,'" said Scowcroft, who served under presidents Ford and George H. W. Bush.
"That would be a very stabilizing direction in which the two sides could go."

Updated : 2021-04-15 15:59 GMT+08:00