【Interview With Takao Hishinuma of Yomiuri Shimbun】

Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary
Washington, DC
November 30, 2004

MR. HISHINUMA: I see. And I’d like to ask about Taiwan Strait issue.




MR. HISHINUMA: Taiwan will have a crucial legislative election December 11th. If the ruling party wins, I think it is inevitable that in Taiwan independence will (inaudible) escalate. Are you ready to put more pressure on the President Chen Shui-bian not to take more aggressive policy?


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we certainly have discussions with Taiwan about all matters and note that — I think it was yesterday, it might have been this morning in Taiwan — Chen Shui-bian came forward and made a pledge that he would not break his pledge about going forward with independence, that he would not try this. It was said this morning in Taipei. And so we take President Chen Shui-bian at his word.


Our position has been, and it’s well known to our Taiwanese friends, that we are not in agreement with any unilateral motions that change the status quo. We oppose that. We’ve made that crystal clear to our friends in Taiwan.


MR. HISHINUMA: And, anyway, how — you see China as a big factor in Asia.




MR. HISHINUMA: How do you view the (inaudible) with China? Japanese Government decided to name China as one of the uncertain factor in our National Defense Program Outline. How do you deal with growing superpower?


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, first of all, I think that Japan was simply stating a fact.




DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: All of us hope that China, have wanted China to take a very positive place on the world stage. And it’s inevitable that China takes a place on the world stage. We just don’t know what kind. So I think it is an unknown factor. Now, the way Japan behaves towards China, the way the United States behaves toward China, can help bring about more positive —




DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: — positive — I think, a more positive China on the world stage. But I would take some exception with your comment about China being just a factor in Asia. My own view is China is a global factor, for a lot of reasons, if only for her energy needs and her raw material needs; she’s sucking up the materials from all over the world. These are commodities which are finite — so, at some point and time.


So China’s rise is of interest to all of us. It is not yet a concern, but I think Japan did exactly the right thing by speaking the truth. It’s an uncertain factor in the future of the region.


MR. HISHINUMA: Are you not worried about some tension between U.S. and China?


DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Look, if I worried about tension between U.S. and China every time somebody squeaked, I’d never get any sleep. We started this Administration with people predicting that we were going into conflict with China because of the EP-3 aircraft. We managed that very well. Our Chinese friends say that we have the best relationship with China the United States has ever had.


So, look, it’s something to be worked every day. You can’t overlook China. It’s a factor in all of our lives. But it’s not something I worry about. I work at it, rather than worry. Worry is wasted effort. I work to try to make the relationship better.