Trade and weapons 'key to rift with United States'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 August, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 1995, 12:00am

NEITHER Taiwan nor the arrest and expulsion of Harry Wu Hongda have been the fundamental issues damaging Sino-US relations, according to the head of a leading American think-tank.

Dr Edwin Feulner, president of the influential Heritage Foundation, said trade, weapon sales and copyright protection were instead the key issues dividing China and the United States.

Speaking at a luncheon organised by the Asia Society in Hong Kong, Dr Feulner said Washington's position on Taiwan had not changed despite Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui's visit to the US in June.

'Lack of transparency in trading, problems arising from intellectual property rights, missile sales to Pakistan, weapon smuggling to Iran and missile tests in seas off China are more important to the relationship,' said Dr Feulner.

He said the American position with regard to Taiwan had been the same since the US set up formal diplomatic relations with China.

'At the time the Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, Beijing became the only official executive branch in China under US legal terms,' he said.

But the analyst expressed regret that when Under-Secretary of State Peter Tarnoff visited Beijing last week, attention focused on Mr Wu's case and the Taiwan crisis instead of the other 'fundamental' issues.

Nevertheless, he gave credit to the US administration over its handling of Mr Wu's arrest.

When asked what actions Washington should take to break the current impasse, he said the US had to work out the objectives of its Asia policy.

'It is important to formulate our objectives first because they are not only useful in negotiating with Beijing, but also important to let our friends in Asia know what the US plans to do in Asia,' he said.

When asked where Hong Kong might fit into the future Sino-US relationship, Dr Feulner said the US Congress had supported the territory's negotiating position over the past 11 years.

He believed strongly that Hong Kong would remain unchanged, no matter who was in charge politically.