HONG KONG -- It is ironic that both Washington and Beijing consider the 30-hour visit to China by U.S. President George W. Bush a great success. After all, neither party got what it wanted most from the other. The United States did not get the antiproliferation agreement it wanted from China and the Chinese did not get the sympathy they wanted regarding their position on Taiwan.

In fact, Bush, perhaps surprisingly, went out of his way to declare America's commitment to the defense of Taiwan. He did not once mention the three Sino-American joint communiques in public, something that had become a ritual for visiting American presidents. Indeed, he virtually humiliated his Chinese hosts by affirming his support for the Taiwan Relations Act, a domestic American law under which the United States pledged to help Taiwan defend itself.

While speaking at Tsinghua University, Bush was asked whether the U.S. still abided by the three Sino-American communiques. The American president said, "when my country makes an agreement, we stick with it" and then, rather surprisingly, cited not the communiques but the Taiwan Relations Act, which was not an international agreement at all.