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In late April 2001, President Bush was asked during an interview if he felt the United States had an obligation to defend Taiwan from an attack by China he responded: "Yes, we do, and the Chinese must understand that." He added that the United States would do "whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself." When asked about the United States sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan, President Bush pointed out that the shift in defensive focus will help Taiwan defend itself and hold its own until the United States has the time to respond in an attack. Since 1949, Taiwan and China have maintained separate governments. For the past two decades, the United States has supported the existence of the Republic of China (ROC) government in Taiwan politically, economically and militarily, while diplomatically recognizing the Communist People's Republic of China (PRC) government in Beijing. The geographic separation of Taiwan from the mainland, coupled with the political and military support of the United States, has allowed the ROC government to resist the reunification of China under centralized PRC rule. Although China and Taiwan have both made reunification proposals, a common agreement has not been reached and the issue continues to be the major source of tension between the two governments.
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