The United States says the existing framework of its relationship with China allows it to pursue the goals it needs to pursue with China, thus ruling out any possibility of a new communique. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher was responding to a question on his comments on Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s op-ed in the Washington Post on January 2, 2002 proposing a fourth communique, which would contain specific reference to Tibet.

Spokesman Boucher’s response during his Daily Press Briefing on January 2, 2002 was, “We have a lot of important treaty relationships in Asia, as well as important relationships with China and other governments in this region. We’re looking for candid, constructive and cooperative relations with China, but we do continue to build on areas of cooperation and common interests, like the fight against terrorism, as well as addressing our differences with the Chinese. We frankly think the current framework of our relationship allows us to pursue these goals, and we will continue to use that framework as we move forward.”

When asked whether the framework includes a possible communique in the near future, Boucher responded, “The framework, the existing framework, we think, allows us to pursue the goals we need to pursue with China and we will stick with that for the moment.”

Ambassador Holbrooke had said the end of the Cold War, the emergence of Taiwan as a democracy, Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong’s return to Beijing, the entry of China into the world trading system, new tensions and crackdowns in Tibet and more have created new circumstances not envisioned by the drafters of the three original communiques. He, therefore, called for a fourth communique.

The op-ed said, “It is time for Washington and Beijing to negotiate a fourth communique, one that would address these new issues and update the relationship based on a new realism. Negotiating a fourth communique will present some obvious difficulties, although none as great as those that faced the drafters of the first two. At home, there will be voices calling for changes in the old formula on Taiwan — something that, I believe, would be possible on the margins but not on the core issue of independence. The United States would also need to insist on references to American views on religious and political freedom, human rights and Tibet, all of which Beijing maintains are domestic issues. (None was addressed in the original communiques.) To deal with our differences, the brilliant “our side-your side” formula in the original Shanghai Communique — in which on areas of disagreement each side stated its own position — should be the model.”