Taiwan Travel Act to meet countermeasures

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/21 22:23:40

Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, arrived in Taipei on Tuesday. He became the first senior US State Department official to visit Taiwan after US President Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act. Some analysts said that with this trip Washington intended to sound out how Beijing would react and there is a possibility that Washington will send higher-ranking officials to Taiwan or invite senior Taiwan officials to visit the US.

Washington and Taipei enhanced the level of visiting officials to upset Beijing. This easy trick is supported within the US, but can be troublesome for Beijing to launch a counterattack. Hence this is a trump card for the US.

Beijing can downplay the influence of senior US-Taiwan officials' two-way travel since they are largely ceremonial and aimed at enraging the Chinese mainland. But the question is: The trick may go on endlessly until some day a US secretary of state or defense visits Taiwan or same-level Taiwan officials are invited to Washington, or even worse, a meeting of US and Taiwan leaders. Meanwhile, other countries will likely follow suit. To stop them will come at a diplomatic cost.

We must strike back against Washington's implementation of the Taiwan Travel Act. First, Beijing should not invite senior officials of the US Department of State and Defense who visit Taiwan, to the mainland during their terms. For instance, Wong should not be invited to the mainland until he no longer occupies the post. Senior Taiwan officials who visit the US and meet publicly with high-level US officials should be treated alike. This won't make the mainland suffer diplomatically. After all, Beijing and Washington have various channels to communicate.

Second, China can pressure the US in other areas of bilateral cooperation: for example, the Korean Peninsula issue and Iran nuclear issue. China can also set itself against the US in international organizations such as the UN. In addition, China needs to move fast to establish diplomatic ties with allies of Taiwan to further squeeze the island's space in the international community.

The mainland must also prepare itself for a direct military clash in the Taiwan Straits. It needs to make clear that escalation of US-Taiwan official exchanges will bring serious consequences to Taiwan. This newspaper has suggested that the mainland can send military planes and warships across the Taiwan Straits middle line. This can be implemented gradually depending on the cross-Straits situation.

Preventing the Taiwan independence movement and promoting unification through peaceful ways can be costly, perhaps costing more than the short-term loss brought about by forceful unification. It's a misunderstanding to think that peaceful unification will be a harmonious and happy process. The Taiwan authority will only turn around when left with no choice. Sticks matter more than flowers on the path to peaceful reunification.

In the grand games between China and the US, how we evaluate Sino-US relations should be based on whether the relationship is conducive to China's domestic politics and economic growth. Let's see which side cares more about the face of Sino-US relations: Beijing or the Trump administration. The next presidential election will be staged soon. If the bilateral ties turn into a mess, how will Trump explain it to his constituency?

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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