President Carter, despite strong objections from the Nationalist Chinese government, has directed federal agencies to prepare to channel their Taiwan programs through an "unofficial" corporation.
Carter's order, dated last Saturday, will be published in today's Frederal Register.
State Department officials described the presidential directive as a necessary legal step in the continuation of "unofficial" relations with Taiwan now that the United States no longer recognizes its government.
In carrying out relations with "the people on Taiwan," according to the directive, "interests of the people of the United States' will be represented by "an unofficial instrumentality in corporate form."
Corporate papers have been drawn up, tentative lists of names of "corporation" officers have been circulated within the government and names are being bandied about for the company, which will function pretty much as the U.S. embassy does in most countries. The Asian-American Services Corp., a name selected several weeks ago, has been discarded but a new name has not yet been chosen, officials said.
In meetings on Taipei last week, Republic of China officials strongly objected to placing their relations with the United States on an unofficial level. President Chiang Ching-kuo insisted in meetings with Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher that "government-to-government-level mechanisms" be set up in Taipei and Washington to continue relations of all kinds.
Negotiations with Taiwan about the matter are expected to resume shortly in the two capitals.
"In the end it will be along this [unofficial] line or something very comparable to it, because there isn't any choice," a State Deartment official said. He said both Taipei and Washington have a large interest in maintaining trade, cultural and other ties, and that the U.S. decision to recognize Peking as the sole government of China means that official ties with Taiwan connot continue.
One option for the Taiwan government would be to refuse to come to terms with the Carter administration on the representation issue in hopes of winning the day in Congress. There is no clear indication whether the Taiwanese will take such a course, according to American officials.
Taiwan's argument, as set forth over the weekend by a broadcast on its official radio, is that "simple justice" dictates that Taiwan should have an "official diplomatic mission such as a liaison office in Washington because this is the way Peking relations were handled before normalization.
Carter's Dec. 30 order called on U.S. agencies to continue in force existing international agreements and arrangements with Taiwan even though it is NO LONGER OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED, AND TO CHANNEL THE RELATIONS THROUGH THE UNOFFICIAL CORPORATION WHEN IT IS CREATED.
Carter said he will submit to Congress a request for legislation "relative to nongovernmental relationships between the American people and the people on Taiwan."
State Department officials said the most important legislation will be an "ommibus bill" that would permit Taiwan to benefit from U.S. laws on a permanent basis under revised relationships.