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Clinton Discusses Taiwan Bill

February 4, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A House-passed bill to boost U.S. military ties with Taiwan could boomerang to the detriment of the island in its lingering dispute with China, President Clinton said today.

``I don’t think it’s in Taiwan’s best interest,″ Clinton said. He added, however, that he is not sure the legislation would complicate his goal of bringing China into the World Trade Organization.

Maybe some members of Congress will say, `Now I’ve done this for Taiwan, now I can afford this China vote,‴ Clinton said on NBC’s ``Today.″

The Chinese government has harshly criticized the Taiwan military bill and has launched a major lobbying campaign against it in the Senate. The measure passed the House Tuesday on a 341-70 vote but no Senate debate has been scheduled.

Liu Xiaoming, deputy chief of the Chinese Embassy, said Thursday that the Republican-written bill ``will push Taiwan closer to a war situation.″

The legislation would lift the long-standing prohibition on formal U.S-Taiwanese military cooperation, increase Taiwanese attendance at U.S. military academies and require an annual Pentagon report on the threats faced by Taiwan.

``We have a one-China policy but we believe that the resolution of disputes between Taiwan and China ought to be done by peaceful means and through dialogue and that our defense assistance to Taiwan should be governed by the Taiwan Relations Act,″ Clinton said.

``Passing a big, new, sweeping bill like this is not well-advised and will complicate our long-term task and may well have the boomerang effect of putting Taiwan under greater pressure,″ he said.

Bringing China into the international trade organizations was one factor Clinton mentioned as necessary to sustain the economic boom without worsening inflation.

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