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2004-02-07 21:59:55

    Washington, Feb. 7 (CNA) The United States is obliged to assist Taiwan in defending its national security even though the two countries don't have a defense treaty, a U.S. State Department official said Friday.

    Randall G. Schriver, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, made the remarks while testifying at a hearing held by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission, which was set up by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to regularly review the impact of U.S.-China economic and trade relations on U.S. national security as well as on the effective execution of the Taiwan Relations Act.

    During the hearing, Patrick Mulloy, a commission member, said it seems to him that Taiwan doesn't perceive the military threat from mainland China because it has so far not purchased any weapons the Bush administration offered to sell some three years ago. He also said the United States doesn't have formal obligation to defend Taiwan.

    In reply, Schriver said although the United States does not have a defense treaty with Taiwan, it has obligations to help Taiwan in self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act-- the U.S. law that regulates relations with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties. "The Taiwan Relations Act not only talks about providing weapons for sufficient self-defense, there's two other operative elements: one, we have an obligation to maintain the capacity to resist force if asked to do so; and number two, if there is a threat to the people on Taiwan, the president would consult with Congress to determine appropriate action," Schriver said, adding: "That's not a defense treaty, but there are some very important obligations there."

     Schriver also said he doesn't think that Taiwan doesn't see mainland China's threat. "I don't think it's that Taiwan doesn't see a threat or they don't agree with us on the threat. I think it's a bit more complicated than that. But they are having some difficulties with how they make the resourcing decisions and how they make discreet decisions along the way to address the threat. But I think there is an appreciation of the threat among the military and among the leadership there," he explained.

(By Jorge Liu and Sofia Wu)


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