US’ Taiwan Travel Act challenges Beijing’s red line

By Ling Shengli Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/13 20:08:39


Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last Wednesday passed the Taiwan Travel Act without amendment. The step is another test of the legislation after it was approved by US House of Representatives last month. Once passed by the Senate and signed into law by US President Donald Trump, the bill will have unimaginable consequences.

The Taiwan Travel Act encourages high-level visit exchanges between the US and Taiwan, which is a disguised restoration of previous inter-state relations and serious deviation from the one-China policy. US Congress believes that since the Taiwan Relations Act, there has been a lack of effective communication between the US and Taiwan, which hindered the development of ties. Hence, the US thinks the frequency of mutual visits would contribute to better ties.

After the establishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington, "diplomatic ties" between the US and Taiwan became naturally invalid, but their interaction did not end completely. Because of China's influence and US' respect for the one-China policy, Washington hasn't gone all out with visits between Taiwanese and US officials.

If the Taiwan Travel Act is signed into law, it would possibly allow all high-level officials from the two sides to exchange visits, which will mark a radical change in interactions, although the US administrative department may remain restrained during implementation.

The Taiwan Travel Act challenges the bottom line of the Sino-US relationship, heavily undermining the one-China policy and the three Sino-US joint communiqués.

The Taiwan question constitutes China's core interests and has been a sensitive issue between Beijing and Washington for quite some time. It has been about 40 years since China and the US established diplomatic ties, yet the White House has been playing tricks over the Taiwan question. The US not only sells arms to the island and maintains official contacts with it, but also implements its Taiwan policy as one of its domestic policies, which is interference in China's internal affairs. Washington is doing so because its goal is to contain China. As a crucial pawn in the US' China policy, Taiwan can be used to pressure Beijing.

Many previous US administrations had complied with the one-China policy in public but opposed it in private. Nevertheless, it is rare to see a US administration publicly denying the policy. When Trump first assumed office, he tried to make the one-China policy a tradable good between Beijing and Washington, yet after China's objection, Trump said he will support the policy in his first phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This official statement by the US' top leader is supposed to be a promise between the two countries, but some people in the US won't stop stirring up troubles by piling pressure on China over the Taiwan question.

The Taiwan Travel Act as a matter of fact is not a good thing for the island. It actually pushes Taiwan to the forefront of confrontation between Beijing and Washington. The legislation has sent a wrong signal to Taiwan. It made pro-independence forces on the island mistakenly believe that US has abandoned the one-China policy and they may challenge the policy more audaciously. Once they cross the red line of China's Anti-Secession Law, tension and confrontation across the Taiwan Straits will likely surge and the island will lose the chance of benefiting from peaceful cross-Straits ties.

The US should stop testing China's determination over the one-China policy. Once the Taiwan Travel Act goes into effect, the foundation of Sino-US relationship will be shaken and damage to the ties will be immeasurable.

Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. If any US high-level official pays an official visit to Taiwan, Beijing will treat it as severe provocation and adopt all possible countermeasures, including uniting Taiwan by military force.

The author is secretary-general of the International Security Study Center at China Foreign Affairs University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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