Frosty bilateral relations between the world’s two superpowers, the US and China continue to deteriorate thanks to the antics of Taiwan’s regional leader, Tsai Ing-wen.
Seven months after Tsai hosted former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taipei despite well-documented protestation by Beijing, the leader of island recognised globally as part of mainland China appears to be a willing pawn in the unpredictable relations between the US and China.
Officially the US, the bulk majority of the nations of the world, subscribes to the One-China Principle that recognises Taiwan as part of China. However, in recent times the US has sought to use Taiwan as a tool in its geopolitical differences with China. To this end, Washington has sought to escalate the tensions by undertaking to sell weapons to Taiwan, and further vowing to “protect” Taiwan militarily should China move to enforce national compliance in the Taiwan Strait.
This week, Tsai visited the US under the guise of a “transit stop”, but was feted on arrival by the current US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who is a Republican. Pelosi being a Democrat, the sudden interest in Taiwan shows that regardless of which party is in power, the US foreign policy towards China remains invariably hostile. House Speaker position is the third in the order of seniority in the US government, falling behind only to the office of the president and vice-president.
The Taiwan question is at the centre of China’s core interests and serves as the “first red line” that must not be crossed in China-US relations.
In recent times, Washington has encouraged the separatist forces in Taiwan – led by the Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – to up the ante in their controversial push for independence from China.
But Tsai’s latest moves – described by Beijing as “provocative”, do not enjoy popular support across the autonomous island.
Whilst in the US, more than 30 political groups in Taiwan staged a protest against what they termed Tsai’s “betrayed visit”. They also condemned the mooted breakaway from mainland China as ill-advised. Scores of Tsai’s opponents also said “Taiwan independence is a dead end”.
They called for a peaceful reunification as the “best way” for resolving the Taiwan question that is currently exploited by US politicians.
Pro-Chinese geopolitical analysts believe that Tsai’s visit to the US is intended to append her signature to the plan hatched in the US known as “Destruction of Taiwan”. The plan is aimed at weakening the Chinese mainland. The plan allegedly includes planting landmines along the Coast of Taiwan Island, extension of the service period of male soldiers in Taiwan, as well as the controversial All-out Defense Mobilization Readiness Act.
But Wu Jung-Juan, the Chairperson of the Labour Party who is also the convener of the Cross-Straits Peace Forum, argued: “Taiwan independence is a suicidal act.” He said Tsai is well aware of this fact, yet “she deceives the people to follow it in the full knowledge that the US is the world’s biggest war-monger, sabotaging the world peace and serving as the common enemy of the people of the world”. He concluded: “Tsai is pushing the people of the island into a pit of fire.”
Wang Wu-lang, Secretary-General of the Labour Rights Association, accused Tsai of actively colluding with the US in her push for Taiwan to break away from China, where it rightfully belongs.
Said Wang: “The US politicians’ rhetoric on ‘defending Taiwan’ is just a façade, because its authentic attempt is to turn the island into a battlefield and treat the people on the island as tools of war.”
Speaking during the protests against Tsai’s US visit, Vice-chairperson of the Labour Party, Wang Chuan-ping said: “We are all angry today! We must stand up and protest Tsai’s betrayal of Taiwan, and say no to Tsai, the Taiwan independence forces and the US. Only when the people stand up for themselves can Taiwan have hope. Taiwan’s independence is a dead end. Peaceful reunification is the best way out for Taiwan.”
He added that Tsai’s desire for the US to provide military support to Taipei in order to keep peace in the Taiwan strain is tantamount to “idiotic nonsense”.
In a hard-hitting statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, diplomatic decorum was cast aside in a gloves-off rebuke to Washington. “This is essentially the United States acting with Taiwan to connive at ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists’ political activities in the US, conduct official contact with Taiwan and upgrade the substantive relations with Taiwan, and frame it as a transit. This is a serious violation of the one-China principle,” the foreign ministry statement read.
It continued: “The United States has been crossing the line and acting provocatively on issues such as US-Taiwan official exchanges, arms sales to and military dealings with Taiwan and creating chances for Taiwan to expand its so-called international space, and kept fudging and hollowing out the one-China principle.”
Indeed, in recent times the US has evidently violated its lawful and political commitment to merely maintain unofficial relations with Taiwan Island. China has predictably refused to sit back idly in the wake of Tsai’s provocative visit to the US that threatens Beijing’s national interests and security.
The government of President Xi Jinping has announced retaliatory measures that are targeted at identified entities behind efforts to shore up Tsai and her party’s clandestine-like measures to attain Taiwan’s independence.
On Good Friday, Beijing announced sanctions against House Speaker McCarthy and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Hudson Institute – a Washington think-tank and also against any entity that did “business” with Tsai.
They were all sanctioned “for providing a platform and convenience to Taiwan separatist activities”. All Chinese institutions are henceforth barred from having any cooperation or contact with the listed persons or organisations.
Washington’s accentuation of Taiwan as a strategic bilateral partner that serves the US foreign policy interests against China’s rise in global politics is unfortunate.
The world over, more and more countries have grown accustomed to the one-China principle as approved by the UN. Any attempt to cut off Taiwan from mainland China is nothing short of a declaration of war against Beijing authorities who continue to call for peaceful reunification of Taiwan into China.
Taiwan broke away from mainland China in 1949 after a civil. Beijing has used every diplomatic effort to reunite with the island. However, external interests in particular have discouraged Taiwanese leaders such as Tsai to be emboldened and demanding independence instead of “returning home”.