US-China panel won’t discuss Taiwan arms sales: US


WASHINGTON — American and Chinese defense officials plan to set up a joint task force to deal with issues of mutual concern, but weapons sales to Taiwan will not be part of the agenda, an unnamed Pentagon official said Wednesday.

The official’s statement came after Chinese media reported that the United States has given a “positive response” to a proposal to discuss the arms sales with China.

Chinese media reports quoted Guan Youfei, a Chinese defense official, who spoke to Chinese journalists Tuesday in Washington, D.C., where China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met with the U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel one day earlier. Guan accompanied Chang on a visit to the U.S. that began Aug. 16.

Guan reportedly said that Taiwan arms sales will be one of three points of discussion between the U.S. and China under a proposed joint problem-solving panel.

His remarks do not square with what the Pentagon official said Wednesday, however.

“I believe that the two sides, U.S. and China agreed to set up working groups to discuss issues of mutual concern. But I have not heard of any specific working group on arms sales to Taiwan being established as of now,” said the Defense Department official.

The planned task force will focus on crime prevention, particularly in regard to arms proliferation, piracy and online crime, the official said.

The issue of arms sales to Taiwan did not come up during the meeting between Chang and Hagel, the official added.

The official also stressed that the U.S. commitment to upholding the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) remains unchanged.

The TRA, the U.S. accord regulating relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, stipulates that the U.S. is obligated to provide Taiwan with arms necessary to defend itself.

The U.S. government also issued Six Assurances in 1982, in which it promised not to hold prior consultation with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan.