June 20, 2004
China's Xinhuanet recently ran a front-page story about US Vice-president Cheney's visit to Beijing. The headline was "US does not support 'Taiwan Independence,'" and quoted Cheney as saying that the US "does not support 'Taiwan Independence' and is against any unilateral action from each side to change the existing situation across the Taiwan Straits during Cheney's meeting with Chinese Vice-president Zeng Qinghong. The article continued that "the US side sticks to the one-China policy" and that Taiwanese elections can have no effect upon the "one country, two systems" policy set by Beijing which prohibits China tolerating a Taiwan
Independence. Xinhuanet concluded by stating that the US agrees with Beijing and has pledged to embargo weapons sales to Taipei.
However, the meeting was being reportedly very differently in the US. As an example, the Associated Press wrote that Cheneys meeting in Beijing centered around the problems the US has with China, typified by Beijings bullying of Hong Kong and its increasing restrictions on that territorys limited self-rule. The AP also reported that Cheney defended US arms sales to Taiwan, his having come to China to make clear what [US] views were, noting that the United States was increasing its sales of defensive arms to Taiwan in response to China's missile buildup on the mainland side of the Taiwan Straits. Cheney reportedly then used Taiwan as an example of Beijings bullying of its neighbors. The US is required, under the Taiwan Relations Act, to defend Taiwan against an attack from mainland China.
The vice-president ended the China leg of his weeklong Asia tour Thursday at Shanghai's Fudan University, where he appealed to China to do more to lower trade barriers, protect copyrights and other intellectual property rights and allow its currency to rise or fall with market forces.
On paper, the US and China are allies in the war against terrorism, although even this understanding has been frayed by what the US sees as Beijings passive view of WMD proliferation among other nations. K.B. Sherman