Capitol Hill Enraged by Threat to Attack Taiwan If Talks Fail

Article excerpt

China will negotiate with Taiwan on an "equal footing" as long as Taiwan accepts the "one-China" principle, Chinese Embassy spokesman Yu Shuning said yesterday.

Mr. Yu's remarks to reporters in Washington marked a conciliatory interpretation of the same 11-page "white paper" issued by Beijing on Monday in which China threatened to attack Taiwan if it continued to refuse negotiations on unification.

The paper has enraged both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill and subjected the Clinton administration to harsh criticism by members of both parties for what some lawmakers view as an overly conciliatory approach toward Beijing.

"I don't think China was thinking very clearly," said Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"It's almost as if they [China's leaders] have a visceral antipathy to freedom," said Sen. Tim Hutchison, Arkansas Republican.

Lawmakers from both parties warned that an administration bill to ease trade restrictions on China had been seriously jeopardized by the Chinese statement.

State Department spokesman James Rubin said the Chinese statement was not entirely belligerent.

"There is more in the white paper than just what we've been talking about for the last two days. It does include various elements of China's policy, including China's stated interest in peaceful reunification and cross-strait dialogue," Mr. Rubin said.

But he added: "One can't simply dismiss the fact that there was a new public articulation of a threat to use force, and we've made our views about that threat quite clear."

China's threat of force, analysts said, appeared to have bolstered flagging support in the Senate for the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which passed the House earlier this month in a 341-70 vote. …