Crisis may affect arms sale to Taiwan : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Crisis may affect arms sale to Taiwan

WASHINGTON -- US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Sunday that the diplomatic crisis caused by a collision between a US spy plane and a Chinese jet fighter could influence US lawmakers' opinion over arms sales to Taiwan.

'The Taiwan arms sales stands alone and apart from the standoff with China, and we do that with respect to Taiwan's defensive needs,' Mr Powell told CBS television.

'But I have to say that, of course, it's affecting the environment that we will be facing when we take the sale up on Capitol Hill if there is a perception that China is not acting in a responsible and reasonable manner,' he said.

His comments were in reference to a pending decision by the United States on whether to provide Taiwan with navy destroyers equipped with the Aegis battle management system and other advanced weaponry that Taipei has requested.

Some analysts have suggested that China is deliberately cranking up the pressure over the spy plane, which remains on Chinese territory despite US calls for the return of the high-tech plane and its crew of 24.

That pressure would make it harder for Mr Bush to agree to Taiwan's request, which Beijing fears would mark a significant upgrade of the US commitment to provide the island with weapons to defend itself.

'Even though we're keeping it separate, I can't help but say to the Chinese that it could become linked in the overall political climate that may exist at the time this goes up,' Mr Powell noted.

Top US officials have insisted that the sole consideration in Washington's decision on what arms to provide Taipei will be based on Taiwan's defence needs, as required under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

The decision will be the first momentous one for US President George W. Bush since he took office on Jan 20.

And Mr Powell observed that opinions of lawmakers, currently in recess, would be felt when Congress started up again on April 23. Several groups of lawmakers, scheduled to have visited China over the recess, canceled due to the crisis.

'I can say to you right now, that if they were in session this coming week, and when they do come back, if this has not been resolved -- I'm not suggesting there won't be -- there will be action,' he said, in what appeared to be a veiled threat.

Mr Powell warned that the ongoing situation had to be quickly concluded so as to avoid further damage to US-China relations.

He further made clear the US position again on Sunday that a US apology for the incident was not forthcoming. -- AFP,1895,35656,00.html?

-- Martin Thompson (, April 08, 2001

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