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Obama Administration Refuses To Reaffirm That “Six Assurances” Is Still U.S. Policy On Taiwan

Apr 3, 2014 | Press Releases

Rubio Calls on Administration to clarify its position that U.S. is not walking away from commitments to Taiwan

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Ranking Member of the Senate’s Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, today called on the Obama Administration to recommit itself to the “Six Assurances” as the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy with respect to Taiwan.

During a subcommittee hearing on Taiwan this morning, Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, refused to confirm that the “Six Assurances” remain the guiding principles of U.S. policy toward Taiwan, as they have been since the early 1980s.

“I am troubled that Assistant Secretary Russel was not willing to clearly reaffirm President Reagan’s ‘Six Assurances’ regarding U.S. commitments to Taiwan,” said Rubio. “For decades, every administration, Democrat and Republican, including this one, has reaffirmed these commitments. I am concerned that today’s failure to once again make our commitment to Taiwan’s security clear sends a dangerous message to China.

“I intend to seek clarification about this issue directly from Secretary Kerry,” Rubio added.

A transcript of today’s exchange between Rubio and Russel is below. Video of the exchange is available here.

Rubio: “Does the Obama administration remain committed to President Reagan’s so-called ‘Six Assurances’ to Taiwan? Is that still our position?”

Honorary Daniel Russel: “Senator, thank you. The underpinning of our policy is our One-China policy, The Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. But the quote-on-quote, ‘Six Assurances’ that you’re referring to continue to play an important part, as an element, of our approach to Taiwan and the situation across the Strait.”

Rubio: “All six of them remain the policy of the United States?”

Russel: “What I would say, Senator, is that in the context of the agreements that I mentioned, what’s known as the ‘Six Assurances,’ comprise an ongoing element of our approach to the Taiwan question.”

Rubio: “I guess my concern now is why can’t the answer be, ‘Yes, we remain committed to all six of them as elements of our foreign policy.’ Why are you unable to say that?”

Russel: “Well what I’m trying to communicate, Senator, is that the underpinning of our approach to Taiwan is the One-China policy, The Three Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. That having been said, what’s known as the ‘Six Assurances,’ which date back to the Reagan administration, as you say, are things that we take seriously and remain important elements as we formulate practical policies vis-à-vis-”

Rubio: “I’m concerned about the answer because on a number of occasions after meeting with the President, the Chinese have actually misrepresented — in fact, in one instance, the Chinese actually said that the U.S. policy toward Taiwan was devolving and changing. And so I understand you’re not the decision maker about what our policy is, but I must say, I am concerned that I’m unable, from the Administration today, to get a statement that the ‘Six Assurances’ remain — all six — remain things we are firmly committed to, as opposed to simply things that inform us, or elements of our policy. So, I am not wrong then to leave here today and say that all ‘Six Assurances’ remain elements of our policy, but they are no longer necessarily the cornerstone of our policy? The Administration is not prepared to say that we remain committed to all six, in their totality, as understood by President Reagan when he annunciated them?”

Russel: “I’m not familiar with categorical statements of that nature in this, or in recent administrations. And I think, Senator, it’s wisest to approach the challenges of Taiwan based on the agreements and the legislation that I’ve described, but mindful of the important elements that are captured in what you refer to as the ‘Six Agreements,’ including, for example, principles that we continue to abide by. Such as our unwillingness to engage in any sort of prior consultations or discussions with the Chinese regarding arms sales, just as an example.”

Rubio: “Alright, so let me just ask this: Does it continue to be the policy of the United States that we will maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social economic system of the people on Taiwan? Does that remain our policy?”

Russel: “Yes it is.”