1990-98 Chronology of China-Taiwan Relations

December 31, 1998
China Business Intelligence


May 20, 1990: Lee Teng-hui is inaugurated President of the Republic of China, calls for opening "channels of communication" with Beijing and ending the state of hostilities.

November 21, 1990: Taipei gives official status to the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and charters it to make "unofficial" contacts with Beijing.


March 11, 1991: Taipei issues the "Guidelines for National Reunification" calling for both sides to "respect – not reject – each other in the international community, and looking to official negotiations 'on equal footing" with Beijing in the "mid-term".

April 30, 1991: President Lee formally announces the "Termination of the Period of National Mobilization for the Suppression of the Communist Rebellion."

May 1, 1991: President Lee Teng-hui declares that the existence of mainland China as a "political entity" is acknowledged by the Taiwan government. Lee signs constitutional amendments requiring direct election of the President and popular representatives and limiting the electorate to citizens in the Taiwan, Penghu, Jinmen and Mazu areas.

July 26, 1991: Beijing People's Daily reiterates "one country two systems," and says "peaceful reunification" should be "discussed by the ruling parties on both sides of the Strait." Beijing reiterates offers made in the 1950's that Taiwan "may maintain its armed forces and purchase necessary weapons . . . which shall not harm the interests of the country."

August 22, 1991: Chinese Red Cross officials arrive in Taiwan, the first such visit since 1949.

September 27, 1991: France announces the sale of Lafayette class naval frigates to Taiwan

December 16, 1991: Beijing establishes Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) as the counterpart to Taipei's SEF.


May, 1992: Russian deliveries to China of 24 of Sukhoi-27 fighers begins.

August 24, 1992: China establishes relations with South Korea, Seoul breaks ties with Taipei.

September 2, 1992: President Bush announces sale of 150 F-16 fighters to Taiwan.

October 30, 1992: Beijing Xinhua reports that during the October 28-30 working level talks between SEF and ARATS, "SEF representatives suggested that with mutual understanding, the One China Principle be stated orally by the two organizations. According to Xinhua, SEF also put forward concrete contents of the statement in which it clarifies that the one-China principle is shared by both sides of the Taiwan Strait. On 3 November, ARATS expressed its acceptance of the SEF proposal. However, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) on March 1, 2001, "SEF proposed that the two sides ‛declare orally that they will put aside the issue,' until the natural political integration between the two sides can be brought about through exchanges in economy and culture. Beijing's negotiator Sun Ya-fu did not say anything about the proposal until two days later (i.e. November 3). In a phone call to SEF Secretary-General Chen Jung-chieh, Sun said: ‛We agree and respect' the idea." This arrangement became known as the "One China, Differing Interpretations" (Yige Zhongguo, Gezi Biaoshu) compromise.

November 16, 1992: ARATS sends a message to SEF suggesting the main points for orally stating the one-China principle: "Both sides of the Strait uphold the one-China principle and strive to seek the country's unification; however, political implications of 'one-China' should not be involved in working-level talks between the two sides of the Strait. There is no response from the Taiwan side.

November 17, 1992: France approves sale of 60 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighters to Taiwan.

December 4, 1992: Taiwan Legislative Yuan Elections: Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins 36% of vote and 50 seats, KMT drops to 102 seats in 162-seat legislature. Vote seen as victory for DPP.


March 15, 1993: Sensing a shift in Taiwan's political climate, Chinese Premier Li Peng calls for negotiations "as soon as possible" between "both sides" of Taiwan Strait instead of between "ruling parties." Taiwan sees this as "significant for the establishment of official channels for cross-Strait exchanges."

April 27, 1993: Koo Chen-fu, SEF Chairman, and Wang Daohan, ARATS Chairman meet in Singapore to begin what they hoped would be routine consultations. Session focuses on registered mail and authentication of public documents. Taiwan asserts that the talks are held on the basis of equality.

August 30, 1993: Second SEF-ARATS talks held in Beijing

August 30, 1993; Beijing issues White Paper on "The Taiwan Question and the Reunification of China" which reiterates that the PRC "is the sole legal government of China and Taiwan is a part of China. Declares the U.S. responsibility for the "Taiwan Question," and (among other things) states flatly that Taiwan membership in the United Nations is "out of the question."

September 2, 1993: SEF abruptly breaks off Beijing talks with ARATS

September 15, 1993: Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs sends four-man delegation to New York to lobby for UN membership.

November 21, 1993: Answering a question, apparently posed by a Taiwan reporter, Chinese President Jiang Zemin tells press that "there is only one China, and that is the People's Republic of China, and Taiwan is a province of China."

November 21, 1993: Taiwan's APEC representative, Minister of Economic Affairs P.K. Chiang rebuts President Jiang's assertion and avers, "there clearly are two separate non-subordinate sovereign nations in the international community which have their own sovereignty, and their own set of diplomatic ties."

November 23, 1993: The Taiwan Government Information Office calls Minister Chiang's stance "an interim two China's policy aimed at achieving one China," and insists that the two sides must accept each other as equal political entities.


February 9, 1994: President Lee Teng-hui begins 8-day visit to Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Lee meets President Fidel Ramos at Subic Bay, President Suharto at Bali and King Phumiphon Adunyadet at the royal palace. Lee's "vacation diplomacy" is coupled with a "southern policy" urging Taiwan businessmen to shift their investments from China to Southeast Asia.

February 24, 1994: President Lee receives families of victims of the "February 28, 1947" incident, says he, too, was a victim of the time.

May 4, 1994: US permits President Lee's aircraft to refuel at Honolulu en route to Costa Rica, but refuses to let Lee leave the airport. Lee stays in his aircraft rather than stretch in the dingy "VIP" lounge at the military terminal. "Many Americans were appalled," said the Economist magazine. Lee begins to press for changes in U.S. policy toward Taiwan, and approval of his visit at the invitation of his alma mater, Cornell University.

May 13, 1994: President Lee interview with Japanese journalist Siba Ryotaro published in Taiwan press under headline "Tragedy of Being a Taiwanese". Lee refers to KMT as an "alien regime," and implies that Taiwanese who remained when Japan colonized the islands desired to be Japanese citizens. Lee also says "there is a struggle ahead for both Moses and the people. In short, we are on our way. Yes. Whenever we think of the 28 February incident, which sacrificed many Taiwanese, we inevitably think 'Exodus.'"

August, 1994: Kuomintang party arm hires prominent Washington lobbying firm to gain approval for President Lee visit to the United States.

September 7, 1994: President Clinton signs "Taiwan Policy Review" which permits Taiwan office to change its name from CCNAA to TECRO, and permits somewhat higher levels of contact between US and Taiwan officials. Administration briefs PRC Embassy before briefing Congress. Taiwan foreign ministry says changes don't go far enough. The Clinton Administration says "the United States does not support Taiwan's entry into the United Nations."

December 6, 1994: US Secretary of Transportation, Federico Pena meets President Lee in Taiwan, first US cabinet-level visit to Taiwan since 1992.

December 13, 1994: China announces cancellation of Secretary Pena's proposed January, 1995, visit to China.


January 30, 1995: Chinese President Jiang Zemin announces his “Eight Point Proposal on Reunification” which breaks little new ground, but does call for cross-Strait visits by leaders of both sides.

February 4, 1995: Taipei’s “Mainland Affairs Council” says Jiang’s Eight Points as a “Good Faith Response.”

February 8, 1995: Several Taipei party and government officials attack Jiang’s Eight Points as “arrogant” and “impolite.”

February 21, 1995: Taiwan Premier Lien Chan offers “Four Conditions” as an interim response: “Face the Status Quo; Increase Exchanges; Mutual Respect; and Pursue Unification.”

February 24, 1995: Taipei notes deployment of M-Class missiles from Jiangxi to Fujian.

March 1995: Taipei waits for Beijing to relax pressures on Taipei’s international relations. Beijing however, insists that Taipei have no representation in any international fora, blocks Taiwan efforts to have Asian Games in Kaohsiung.

March 29, 1995: House of Representatives Concurrent Resolution CR H4449 sponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) introduces in subcommittee. CR H4449 "expresses the sense of the Congress that the President should promptly indicate that the United States will welcome a private visit by President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan to his alma mater, Cornell University." No objections recorded in either House or senate. Bill eventually passed the House on May 2, 1995 under suspension of the rules by Yea-Nay Vote: 396 - 0; and passes the Senate on May 9, 1995 by a vote of 97-1.

April 1, 1995: President Lee begins Middle East Tour -- In Amman Jordan, Lee visits Mt. Nebo and recalls Moses sighting of “Promised Land” as he leads the Taiwanese people to a new future. Taipei press speculates Mideast Trip is designed to boost Lee’s reelection potential. Lee denies he is considering running for reelection. Beijing sees trip as further evidence that Lee seeks Taiwan independence from mainland China

April 8, 1995: Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui announces his “Six Point” response to Jiang’s “Eight Points.” Lee insists on Taiwan sovereignty, demands China renounce threats of military force. Observers say Lee’s response contains no new initiative.

April 18, 1995: Beijing Radio singles out Lee's proposals on promoting cross-straits commercial and cultural ties as having "merit." An editorial in the PRC-owned Hong Kong daily Wen Wei Po, for example, reported that Li and Jiang have reached "consensus" on the importance of strengthening bilateral exchanges.

April 1995: Taipei fears Lee cannot go to US, makes plans for Premier Lien Chan to visit Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary. Britain and Netherlands rebuff Lien’s attempts to visit.

April 1995: President Lee continues to lobby US to permit his visit to Cornell.

April 11, 1995: President Lee Teng-hui Meets US Senator Charles Robb, passes message to US President Clinton, says he still hopes to visit the US in June to speak at Cornell University Graduation.

April 1995: US Senate and House separately pass several resolutions calling on Clinton Administration to permit Lee to visit.

April 17, 1995: Secretary of State Christopher meets Chinese vice premier Qian Qichen: Christopher tells Qian that “very frankly the American public and particularly the American Congress do not understand the Chinese position” on keeping Taiwan President Lee out of the US. Christopher made it clear that “we would consider a transit visit” for Lee.

May 17, 1995: Senator Robb meets President Clinton, tells Taiwan press that a favorable decision is imminent.

May 18, 1995: The first direct China-Taiwan voyage was delayed after China declined permission for a U.S.-owned ship to sail from the city of Fuzhou to Taiwan's southern port of Kaohsiung.

May 19, 1995: In spite of opposition from State Department, President Clinton decides to permit Lee’s visit, but the internal decision is not announced until May 21. White House informs Chinese Ambassador.

May 23, 1995: China cancels US trip of Defense Minister Chi Haotian, threatens other retaliation.

May 24, 1995: China insists that US decision has no effect on High-Level “Wang-Ku Talks” between Jiang Zemin mentor Wang Daohan and Lee Teng-hui confidante Koo Chen-fu.; PRC advance team arrives in Taipei.

June 12, 1995: US Ambassador to Beijing, Stapleton Roy, announces he will leave Beijing early, hints to associates that he opposed Clinton decision to permit Lee visit.

June 7 - 12, 1995: Lee Teng-hui visits US, speaks at Cornell University graduation

June 16, 1995: In response to Lee’s success in pressuring US to permit his travel to Cornell University, Beijing indefinitely postpones high-level “Wang-Koo Talks”

June 17, 1995: China announces recall of Ambassador Li Daoyu from Washington in response to Ambassador Roy’s departure.

June 20, 1995: Taiwan poll shows 28 percent favor eventual independence, highest level in 50 years; 36 percent favor eventual reunification, over 30 percent refuse to answer pollsters .

June 1995: Jiang Zemin, Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and US Ambassador Li Daoyu reportedly make “self-criticisms” at a secret Politburo meeting in Beijing. General Liu Huaqing and National People’s Congress Chairman Qiao Shi rumored to have criticized Jiang’s mishandling of Taiwan and US policies.

June 1995: China begins series of blistering personal attacks on Lee Teng-hui accusing him a strategy to split Taiwan from China.

June 1995: PRC sources in Hong Kong hint that China will “test fire missiles” at Taiwan to demonstrate Beijing’s strength in dealing with Taiwan.

June 26, 1995: China announces arrest and detention of American human rights activist Harry Wu.

July 8, 1995: US Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich tells NBC Meet the Press that the US should “recognize Taiwan as a free country” and says Taiwan should be granted membership in the UN

July 18, 1995: Speaker Gingrich, after consultations with Henry Kissinger, acknowledges that he did not fully understand the Taiwan issue, and recants his advocacy of Taiwan’s UN membership.

July 18, 1995: China announces missile tests in 100 square km area 85 miles north of Taiwan on July 21.

July 21-24, 1995: Chinese missile tests include at least six launches of nuclear capable M-9 missiles. US intelligence believes tests had been scheduled for at least 30 days prior to launches and probably longer.

July 24, 1995: State Department says it “believes” China’s missile tests “do not contribute to peace and stability in the region.” State spokesman refuses to criticize China.

August 1, 1995: Secretary of State Christopher meets Qian Qichen in Brunei. Qian complains he had no warning of Lee visit approval; Christopher says he did inform Qian. Both agree to continue dialogue with US undersecretary Tarnoff to visit China on August 24. US says no improvement in US China ties until Harry Wu is released.

August 3, 1995: Hong Kong's PRC-controlled Ta Kung Po publishes text of Clinton letter to Jiang Zemin which was delivered by Secretary Christopher to Foreign Minister Qian. It says "The United States recognizes the PRC as the sole legal government of China. The United States respects China's position that there is only one China in the world and that Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. government will handle the Taiwan question on the basis of the one China policy. The USG is against Taiwan independence and does not support Taiwan's admission into the United Nations." The letter is never been made public in the United States.

August 10, 1995: China announces a second round of missile tests in Taiwan Strait. This time China will test ship-to-ship missiles.

August 17-21, 1995: Chinese naval exercises continue.

August 23, 1995: Lee Teng-hui announces he will run for a second term as president

August 24, 1995: China expels U.S. citizen human rights and prison labor activist Harry Wu, returning him to the United States.

August 24-27 1995: Tarnoff visits Shanghai and Beijing, but scheduled meeting with Wang Daohan is called off.

September 1, 1995: Lee Teng-hui gives interview with New York Times Foreign editor Friedman and made two points: first, he is not seeking internationally recognized independence for Taiwan - a move that could easily spark a war; second, he desired to step back from the brink and resume the dialogue broken off by Beijing in the wake of his visit to Cornell.

September 7, 1995: Wang Daohan, speaking privately to a Taiwan businessman, declares the Taiwan issue is “not the same as the Hong Kong one.” He suggests that as long as Taipei continues to call itself the “Republic of China” on the island, both sides may live in peace and “you voice your views and we voice ours.” However, voicing such a claim in an international setting would easily lead people having “two Chinas” in mind. The Chinese Communists cannot accept this. Wang adds that “we can interpret ‘one China’ abstractly as “one China which is formed by the Chinese people after 5,000 years' amalgamation and has a basis of consensus.” Wang’s comments are viewed in Taipei as offering a way out of the impasse with Beijing.

September 15, 1995: Xinhua says Wang’s statements on ‘one China’ were “misrepresented,” but offers no clarification.

October 16, 1995 US News & World Report publishes an interview with Jiang Zemin in which Jiang reiterates an invitation to Lee Teng-hui to visit China. Jiang’s reference to Lee was the first time Lee’s name had been mentioned positively since May. Most observers say Jiang’s conciliatory tone was in preparation for October 24 meeting with President Clinton.

October 19, 1995: China holds military exercises in Zhejiang coastal area

October 24, 1995: Jiang meets Clinton at APEC; apparently reasserts Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan but does not chose to exacerbate tensions with US over Taiwan.

October 26, 1995: Foreign Ministry Spokesman says meeting between Jiang and Lee “is not possible” until Taiwan abandons its efforts at international recognition.

October 27, 1995: China defends recent naval exercises as “routine.”

November 7, 1995: State Department responds to rumors that China plans military exercises on the eve of Taiwan’s legislative elections December 3.

November 10, 1995: Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Nye warns Chinese that it would be a “serious mistake” for China to invade Taiwan. Nye compares situation to Korean War when US clearly did not want war but was compelled to fight. Nye’s comments seen as a step beyond the State Department’s earlier complaints that China’s moves “do not contribute to peace.”

November 25, 1995: China's state television showed army, navy and air force units of the Nanjing Military Command in eastern China taking part in a combined military exercise off southeastern Fujian province. News stories and TV coverage indicates the exercises are large scale. For the first time, the war games headquarters is referred to as the “Nanjing Combat Region.”

December 3, 1995: Taiwan’s ruling KMT party loses 14 seats in legislative elections but holds on to 85 seat majority, pro independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) party gains 4 seats and is second largest party with 54 seats. Small pro unification party recently split from KMT gains 21 seats. Chinese military exercises seem to polarize electorate with increasing sentiment for independence.

December 10, 1995: Taiwan holds large scale military exercises. President Lee calls for resolve in meeting the Chinese threat.

December 19, 1995: US aircraft carrier Nimitz battle group makes an unpublicized transit of the Taiwan straits. The transit was an “operational” decision to avoid bad weather.


January 1, 1996: Jiang Zemin declares China “will continue to deal with the Taiwan issue in accordance with the `peaceful reunification, one country two system' principle,” in the first time a Chinese leader had spoken of reunification without adding the threat of using force.

Chinese sources tell Hong Kong papers that the Chinese leadership had decided that if Taiwan did not seek international recognition, China would be more flexible on other issues.

January 22, 1996: Taiwan communications minister Liu Chao-shiuan said Taipei would it will drop its official name, the Republic of China, from documents on a proposed plan to start direct shipping with China.

January 22, 1996: Beijing says France agrees not to provide weapons to Taiwan; Taipei denies reports; France denies cancellation, but Parisian daily Liberation says Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has ordered an indefinite postponement of arms deliveries to Taiwan and Pakistan.

January 22, 1996: State Department acknowledges that it is prepared to give a transit visa to Taiwan’s vice president. (The vice president gets a second visa three weeks later.)

January 24, 1996: New York Times reports that the People's Liberation Army had prepared plans for a missile attack against Taiwan consisting of one conventional missile strike a day for 30 days. “Preparations for a missile attack on Taiwan and the target selection to carry it out, have been completed and await a final decision by the Politburo in Beijing,” the report said. A former US diplomat (later identified as former U.S. deputy chief of mission in Beijing, Charles W. Freeman) quotes a Chinese official (later identified as General Xiong Guangkai) as asserting that China could act militarily against Taiwan without fear because U.S. leaders “care more about Los Angeles than they do about Taiwan,” a statement characterized as an indirect threat by China to use nuclear weapons against the United States.

January 26, 1996: Taipei government leaks news of Nimitz Battle Group transit of Taiwan Strait, implies it was a “diplomatic signal” by the United States to Beijing.

January 29, 1996: Taiwan announces anti-submarine warfare exercises

January 30, 1996: Chinese premier Li Peng issues statement reiterating Jiang’s “Eight Points” of January 1995:. Li refers to Taiwan’s leaders as “local leaders.” He does not reiterate Jiang’s suggestion for exchanges of visits by Taipei and Beijing’s top leaders.

February 6, 1996: Press reports indicate China is massing 150,000 troops opposite Taiwan in preparation for large-scale war games. Defense Secretary William Perry says he is concerned but not alarmed that China is using “military maneuvering” to try to influence Taiwan's presidential elections on March 23. The Clinton administration has not said how it would respond if China attacks.

February 7, 1996: Citing the Taiwan Relations Act, Assistant Secretary of State Lord tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “It is the policy of the United States...to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”

February 10, 1996: China leaks an internal document citing Deng Xiaoping that China should blockade Taiwan if Taipei considers independence. However, Deng acknowledged this action would be disastrous to both economies and human life. The document also indicates that Deng told then US Defense Secretary Weinberger in 1983 that China would be prepared to impose a military blockade against Taiwan. “Currently, China is not capable of a military occupation on Taiwan. But we are well equipped to stage a blockade,” Deng was quoted as telling Weinberger.

February 10, 1996: Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji accuses President Lee Teng-hui of pursuing independence. “Lee Teng-hui is the one who has kept going further along the path to breaking Taiwan away from the Chinese fatherland,” Zhu told the German daily Handelsblatt. Zhu is the first senior Chinese official to attack Lee by name.

February 12, 1996: Beijing announces that “over the past few days, responsible figures from China’s ministries of Post and Telecommunications, Transportation, Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, and the Civil Aviation Administration have announced that the mainland has been well prepared for the three direct links across the straits.”

February 15, 1996: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashvili tells journalists that the US does not believe that China has “the capability to conduct amphibious operations of the nature that would be necessary to invade Taiwan . . . Secondly, we don't see them gathering the kind of forces and the kind of support that you would need to conduct that kind of operation.” Speaking at a breakfast meeting with reporters, he said Taiwan's military, which will soon deploy dozens of F-16 fighters, could repel an invasion although China could mount a sea blockade and launch missiles against Taiwan. This was the first public comment by a top military officer on China’s military capabilities against Taiwan.

March 4, 1996: State department spokesman Glyn Davies is asked about reported Chinese missile threats against Taiwan, but had not heard any confirmation that they would take place. All he would say was "you know, our commitment to Taiwan is spelled out in the law and I would refer you to that for the golden language on how the United States relates to Taiwan in defense terms. But I don't see any need now to make any further statements about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan's security.

March 5, 1996: Xinhua news agency announces PLA "ground-to-ground" missile tests into target areas in two international shipping lanes, one centered 55 miles north of Keeling, the other 40 miles west of Kaohsiung, between March 8 and March 15. "For the sake of safety," the announcement read,"governments of relevant countries and authorities of relevant regions" should "keep their ships and aircraft outside the areas."

March 5, 1996: Asked about the Chinese missile tests, White House spokesman Mike McCurry says both China and Taiwan not to take steps to exacerbate tension in the region. "We have long felt," he explains, "that military exercises of that nature and specifically these types of missile tests, don't do anything to contribute to peace and stability in the region. We've suggested to the People's Republic ... and also suggested to Taiwan, that provocative steps, provocative military exercises, are not the best way to resolve the differences that exist across the Taiwan straits."

March 5, 1996: State Department Spokesman Nick Burns is asked whether "free and unfettered access to the Taiwan Straits shipping lanes" is important to the United States. Burns replies, "well, those are international waters, and the United States, as all other sea-bearing nations -- sea-faring nations have a right to -- certainly to navigation in international waters. And as you know, our military has exercised that right at several points during the last year." But Burns questions, "I don't think it is credible to read into the announcement from Beijing that this is a blockade. We believe that these tests are being undertaken for the reasons that the previous tests were undertaken, and that is that they're probably meant to send a signal."

March 6, 1996: State Department Spokesman Burns is asked , "are you planning to issue any travel advisory for the Taiwan area in the face of the military exercises?" Burns responds, "I am not aware that we have -- I'm looking at John Dinger. That's my associate. (Laughter.) I'm waiting for him to look at me. (Laughter.) I'm not aware that we have issued any kind of travel advisory to American citizens." Burns then added, "We think these tests are meant, as the military exercises are meant, to intimidate the Taiwanese people before their March 23rd elections. We think that's most unfortunate. We think it's provocative and very unhelpful and destabilizing in the region. I would not conclude that there is any threat of a blockade. We certainly would hope that that situation would not materialize.

March 7, 1996: Chinese State Council of Foreign Affairs Director of the People's Republic of China, Liu Huaqiu, in Washington March 7-12 for consultations with Secretary Christopher, National Security Advisor Lake, Secretary of Defense Perry, and other officials from our government. Taiwan National Security Council secretary general, Ting Mou-shih is also in Washington and New York, and reportedly meets with US officials and may also meet with Liu Huaqiu.

March 7-13, 1996: China begins missile launches into Taiwan Strait Area, firing at least four unarmed M-9 medium-range missiles into the sea near Taiwan, three missiles landed 50 miles from Taiwan off the southern port of Kaohsiung and one 15 miles from Taiwan's coast near the northern port of Keelung.

March 8, 1996: In Taipei, the Taiwan central bank bought shares and sold U.S. dollars to steady the markets. Most banks in Taipei ran out of dollars, prompting at least one U.S. bank to charter a plane to deliver more.

March 8, 1996: State Department spokesman Nick Burns comments on missile launches, : "as Secretary Perry said this morning, if the missiles explode before they hit their targets, then parts of those missiles could hit innocent people or commercial vessels or naval vessels. The Taiwan Straits is a very busy area, and we think, therefore, it's reckless and provocative to conduct such tests in such a busy area. And we've advised the Chinese that they ought not to proceed." When asked, "are you saying that there's a serious danger to shipping in the Taiwan Straits?" Burns said, "one of the reasons, Mark, we've been concerned about the tests is because we don't believe that China can with absolute accuracy predict exactly where these missiles are going to land, and that is dangerous." Burns added, "now, we've also said that we don't believe there's any imminent threat of a military attack on Taiwan. What we'd like to see is for China and Taiwan to resolve their problems across the Straits of Taiwan peacefully, but without these tactics of intimidation -- military exercises, missile test fires, firings that are clearly designed to intimidate the people of Taiwan before the March 23rd elections."

March 8, 1996: Ambassador to the UN, Madeline K. Albright tells TV talks show host John McLaughlin, "We have made very clear that we would consider this as having very grave consequences." McLauglin prods, "does that translate –" but Albright says, "I am not going to go into the details of that. But we have specifically said that it would have grave consequences."

March 9, 1996: President Clinton in California approves moving the USS Nimitz and USS Independence battle groups closer to Taiwan after Defense Secretary Perry sells the idea to Lake and Secretary of State Warren Christopher during a Pentagon briefing.

March 10, 1996: At a private luncheon sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D Calif.), Liu Huaqiu complains bitterly that Taiwan had rebuffed a series of attempts by China to forge much closer ties. He says Taiwan leaders must once again endorse the "one-China" idea before Beijing would agree to renew a direct dialogue with Taiwan about eventual reunification. Liu insists "this issue is visceral and deep" for China. Feinstein complains China's military exercises are unduly provocative and harmful, Liu responds there is no reason to worry about accidental war and reveals the exercises will end soon.

March 11, 1996: Defense Secretary Perry tells reporters the aircraft carrier USS Independence, the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill was close enough to observe the missile flight. The Bunker Hill is equipped with the Aegis weapons system, which features special radar banks capable of tracking missile flight paths. Other officials said the Independence was operating about 200 miles northeast of Taiwan, the Bunker Hill just south of the island. guided missile destroyer USS O'Brien.

March 11, 1996: White House spokesman McCurry confirms that he administration is prepared to send additional naval vessels "to the area of the Taiwan Strait," adding the Pentagon was prepared to confirm later in the day news reports that the carrier task force built around the nuclear-powered USS Nimitz will arrive in the area shortly before the March 23 presidential election on Taiwan. It will join the USS Independence carrier group in waters about 100 miles from the strait.

March 11, 1996: State Department spokesman Nick Burns is asked "most of the Taiwan Straits now is off limits to shipping due to this live-fire exercise." Burns says "I don't -- I take issue with your description that the Taiwan Straits are closed. It is true that large areas of the straits have been designated by the Chinese for impact or live exercise areas. But I think that commercial shipping continues today, and we expect in the next couple of days and weeks through the Taiwan Straits. It is certainly possible to navigate the international waters of the Taiwan Straits, despite the presence of the designation of these live-fire areas."

March 19, 1996: The US House of Representatives passes an amended version of House Concurrent Resolution 148 (H.Con.Res. 148) which expresses the sense of the Congress that "the United States is committed to military stability in the Taiwan Strait and the United States should assist in defending the Republic of China (also known as Taiwan) in the event of invasion, missile attack, or blockade by the People's Republic of China."

March 20, 1996: Hong Kong Wen Wei Pao publishes editorial daring the USS Nimitz to "sail across the center line of the Taiwan Strait." If it does, continues the editorial, "the United States will again show the face of a jackal" and "in the future there will be a trial of strength between China and the United States in which the United States will pay a price." However, if it passes to the east of Taiwan, it will not worsen the situation. The U.S. military authorities have not uttered a single word about the direction which the Nimitz will be taking. But Perry has soliloquized, saying that "the Chinese Armed Forces do not have the capability to cross the sea, nor do they plan to attack Taiwan." If the United States plays with fire, it will find it too late for regrets!

March 21, 1996: The Senate approves a nonbinding resolution 97 to 0, calling on the Administration to consult immediately with Congress if China's missile tests and military exercises pose an actual threat to Taiwan's peace and security, and urged "reexamine the nature and quantity of defense articles and services that may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self defense capability in light of the heightened military threat."

Marsh 23, 1996: President Lee Teng-hui sweeps to an election victory that exceeds all expectations in Taiwan's first democratic president election. 54%, 11 million vote for Lee, more than double that of his nearest challenger The victory is seen as a rebuke of China by Taiwan's citizens.

Marsh 25, 1996: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang says China is open for negotiations with Taiwan. "I want to reiterate that it was the mainland which has initiated the idea of holding a meeting between our leaders, strengthening our cultural and economic exchanges and resuming the three direct links of mail, transport and communications . . . Our doors remain open, but now the obstacles rest with the Taiwanese authorities.'' Shen says the elections are "only a form of change in producing Taiwan's regional leaders."

April 29, 1996: SEF sends letter to ARATS offering to resume the Koo-Wang Talks.

May 2, 1996: ARATS notifies SEF that it rejects offers to resume Koo-Wang Talks.

May 17, 1996: President Lee Teng-hui tells Asahi Shimbun "the Republic of China is an independent, sovereign nation."

May 20, 1996: Lee Teng-hui is inaugurated as Taiwan's first popularly elected president, is applauded loudly when he offers to visit mainland China to meet with Communist Party leaders. Lee was conciliatory in his inauguration speech, calling for an end to the "tragedy of Chinese fighting Chinese."

July 9, 1996: White House NSC Advisor Tony Lake makes first visit to China.

September 27, 1996: Koo Chen-fu formally rejects the "one country, two systems: model as unsuitable to Taiwan.


September 15, 1997: President Lee Teng-hui addresses Paraguayan parliament and stresses the Republic of China has been a sovereign nation since 1912, has all along enjoyed the right to take part in international activities, and has also greatly contributed to international cooperation. The establishment of the Communist Chinese regime in 1949, however, led to the separate rule across the strait.

October 31, 1997: At the conclusion of the state visit to the United States by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, State Department spokesman Rubin answers a reporter's question, " We certainly made clear that we have a one China policy, that we don't support a one China or one Taiwan policy, we don't support a two China policy. We don't support Taiwan independence, and we don't support Taiwanese membership in organizations that require you to be a member state. We certainly made that very clear to the Chinese."

November 8, 1997: President Lee tells Washington Post correspondent, "Taiwan is Taiwan, they use this to pressure [us]. But I don't feel anything. We are an independent, sovereign country."

November 9, 1997: Government spokesman David Lee says that "the president had no intention whatsoever to support Taiwan independence" in his remarks to the Washington Post.


May 1, 1998: Hong Kong's independent "Ming Pao" newspaper reports "during President Clinton's visit to China at the end of June, China and the United States will issue a written declaration on some major issues, including the Taiwan issue." Secretary of State Albright is asked at a press conference in Beijing about a communique, and responds, "I don't want to predict any content concerning Taiwan and other issues which will be reached in the final communique and these issues are exactly the matters to be discussed by both sides.”

June 30, 1998: President Clinton tells a questioner at the Shanghai Library, "I had a chance to reiterate our Taiwan policy, which is that we don't support independence for Taiwan, or two China's, or one Taiwan-one China. And we don't believe that Taiwan should be a member in any organization for which statehood is a requirement. So I think we have a consistent policy." When asked an identical question at Beijing University two days earlier, the President avoided giving this answer.

July 1, 1998: Taiwan Government Information Office Director General Chen Chien-jen called Clinton's comments unnecessary and said they were spoken at the wrong place at the wrong time. "If Clinton wants to talk about the "three noes," he should discuss the matter with Taiwan, Chen said, adding that "Taiwan's sovereignty and future will be determined by its own people, not by others."

September 2, 1998: President Lee Teng-hui tells New York Times correspondent that "Taiwan has no need to declare independence because it is already a sovereign country, known formally as the Republic of China."

October 13, 1998: President Li Teng-hui stresses, "the Republic of China is an independent sovereign country and a political entity reciprocal to the Chinese Communists. Both sides should consult with each other on this basis and consensus, and this will help solve common problems." Lee made the remarks in connection with upcoming "Koo-Wang Talks."

October 19, 1998: GIO director Chen Chien-jen explains, "Beijing's denial of the ROC's existence is a principal obstacle to the development of bilateral ties," and adds that the ROC, as an independent sovereign state, must safeguard its national identity, dignity and safety."

October 19, 1998: At an official guest house in Beijing at the conclusion of his visit to China, Taiwan negotiator, Koo Chen-fu is disappointed with the results of his meeting with Chinese foreign minister Qian. He sharply criticizes Beijing's efforts to isolate Taiwan. Taiwan cannot accept China's plan to reunite under "one country, two systems", Koo told Qian, according to a statement issued by Koo's team.

December 1, 1998: President Lee Teng-hui reaffirms to a group of overseas Chinese leaders from Europe that the ROC has been a sovereign state since 1912, and has its ultimate political power in the hands of the people, as is the case in any democratic country. These two characteristics differentiate Taiwan from Hong Kong, and make the "one country, two systems" formula devised by Beijing to take over the former British colony in 1997 inapplicable to Taiwan, he said.


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