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Congressional Research Service, Pres. Reagan's Six Assurances to Taiwan [in 1982], October 8, 2020

Susan Lawrence wrote this review for the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, a part of the U.S. Library of Congress. It came during renewed attention to U.S.-Taiwan relations, including the adoption of the Taiwan Travel Act, the sale of arms to Taiwan and revised policies regarding official contacts between the governments of the U.S. and Taiwan.
October 8, 2020

In July 1982, as his government negotiated with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over a joint communiqué on Taiwan arms sales, President Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan assurances about what the United States had not agreed to in those negotiations. These statements have come to beknown as the Six Assurances. (See Table 1below.) A senior Reagan Administration official wove language from the assurances through his testimony before Congress on August 17, 1982, the day of the communiqué’s release, but successive administrations kept the precise text of the assurances classified, creating lingering uncertainties about their content. With its declassification of an internal 1982 presidential memorandum (in 2019) and two 1982 State Department cables (in 2020), the Trump Administration has made public definitive language for the Six Assurances, as well as new information about the context in which they were offered.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Stilwell has portrayed the declassification decisions as part of an effort to bolster Taiwan and “prevent and reverse [the] PRC’s squeezing of... Taiwan’s international space.” Declassification has also served to refocus attention on the1982 U.S.-PRC joint communiqué on Taiwan arms sales and to affirm a long standing U.S. policy of taking no position on Taiwan’s sovereignty.

{Click on the link below to see the full review.]

Six Assurances as conveyed by James Lilley, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, to Republic of China President Chiang Ching-kuo on July 10, 1982. The U.S. government subsequently authorized Taiwan to make a slightly different version public. And a slightly different version was presented in testimony in August 1982 by John Holdridge, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

"We have not agreed to set a date certain for ending arms sales to Taiwan."

"We have not agreed to prior consultation on arms sales.”

"We have not agreed to any mediation role for the U.S."

"We have not agreed to revise the Taiwan Relations Act."

"We have not agreed to take any position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.”

"The PRC has at no time urged us to put pressure on Taiwan to negotiate with the PRC; however, we can assure you that we will never do so."


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