Quayle Attacks Clinton's China Policy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 20, 1999; Page A5
In a toughly worded foreign policy speech, former vice president Dan Quayle yesterday moved sharply away from the "engage China" stance he had taken in the Bush administration and accused the Clinton administration of "appeasement" of Beijing.
The prepared text of Quayle's address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, made available by his presidential exploratory committee, aligned Quayle with others in the GOP 2000 field who have taken a hard line toward China. Implicitly, it opened a possible area of debate with Texas Gov. George W. Bush, son of the former president.
Quayle was emphatic in shifting his stance from the policy he had defended for four years as vice president.
"Most of us, certainly President George Bush and I, believed that a policy that encouraged trade, with a minimum of sanctions and sanctimony, would more likely move China toward policies of greater freedom for its people and a more productive relationship between our two countries," he said. "I think it was a worthy objective, but upon reflection, it is clear to me that the Chinese took advantage of that opportunity."
"The situation is far worse today," said Quayle, citing what he called "a continued decline in human rights, an increase in religious persecution . . . threats against Taiwan . . . espionage involving our most critical secrets."
He blamed the deterioration on "a failure of will and leadership" by President Clinton. About the suspected Chinese infiltration of the nuclear weapons lab in Los Alamos, N.M., Quayle declared: "How dare [Vice President] Al Gore blame presidents Reagan and Bush for negligence that clearly happened on his and President Clinton's watch? . . . It is high time this administration start accepting responsibility for its own actions."
Within the past two weeks, the administration has revealed that since 1995 it has been investigating espionage that may have occurred at the labs in the 1980s. Critics contend it has been laggard in remedying the situation, and several other candidates with whom Quayle is vying for support – notably Patrick J. Buchanan and Gary Bauer – have gone further than Quayle in urging retaliation against China.
Quayle portrayed himself as someone who wishes China well, noting that he has visited that country three times since leaving office and has a Mandarin-speaking son living there. But he condemned Clinton for tilting his policy toward Beijing and away from Taiwan. He stopped short of advocating an end to normal trade relations with China but said, "at a minimum, we should insist that trade with China be conducted on a level playing field."
He said it was "premature" to support China's entry into the World Trade Organization, a step expected to be under discussion when Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji visits Washington next month.
Instead, the U.S. should "support Taiwan's immediate entry into the WTO," a step no administration has endorsed for fear of antagonizing China. At the same time, Quayle said, this country should reiterate its determination to oppose any military threat to Taiwan from the mainland and move ahead with a regional missile defense system for that entire area.
Quayle claimed that Clinton had compromised America's security commitments in the region during his visit to China last year and rejected Clinton's characterization of China as a "strategic partner."
"I don't perceive China as our enemy," Quayle said, but neither does it meet the standard for a partnership that implies "common values and similar goals."
In the first foreign policy speech of his undeclared campaign, Quayle sought to demonstrate his expertise in an arena where many Republicans see potential vulnerability for the Democrats. Neither of the Republicans who command greater support in early polls, Bush and Elizabeth Dole, has foreign policy experience.
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