WASHINGTON (CNA) – When the United States Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) nearly four decades ago, then Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) was annoyed about it, saying that would make the Taiwan president “very cocky,” according to declassified U.S. government files.
On Dec. 15, 1978, then U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced a shift of diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China (ROC) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with effect from Jan. 1, 1979.
The announcement triggered anger and protests by people in Taiwan, which was the seat of the ROC government, and among ROC nationals in other countries.
In response to the shift in diplomatic recognition, the U.S. Congress proposed the TRA, which Carter signed into law on April 10, 1979 to provide the legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan and for the U.S.’ commitment to helping Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability.
The TRA’s enactment, however, angered Beijing, according to U.S. State Department declassified files.
They indicate that in a 1979 meeting with U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale in Beijing, Deng complained about the TRA.
“I only want to tell you that in your various dealings with them (the ROC) that it has tended to make Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) very cocky. It has caused his tail to raise very high,” the files quote Deng as saying to Mondale, referring to Taiwan’s president at the time.
In response, Mondale said, “I will report that to the President, and we will try to make him less cocky.” The TRA specifies U.S. policy on the Taiwan issue, which is to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the American and Taiwanese people, and to declare that peace and stability in the area are in the U.S.’s political, security, and economic interests.
Any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, will be regarded as a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States, according to the Act.
It also states that the U.S. is committed to providing Taiwan with arms of a defensive nature and to maintaining the capacity of the U.S. to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people in Taiwan.
By Chiang Chin-yeh and Elizabeth Hsu