Washington escalates Taiwan card out of anxiety

By Zhang Tengjun Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/23 17:52:24

Photo taken on June 20, 2019 shows the night view of Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan. (Xinhua/Zhu Xiang)

In recent days, the US has been playing its cards on the Taiwan question, constantly pushing the bottom line of its Taiwan policy and China-US relations. There are three levels of breakthroughs in the Taiwan-related actions of the US. The first is to continue to break through the "unofficial relations" between the US and the island of Taiwan since 1979. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly congratulated Tsai Ing-wen on her second term, calling her "President". The move was no less provocative than Trump's phone call with her in late 2016.

The second is to continue to ignore the three China-US joint communiqués. The US State Department on Wednesday approved a $180 million arms sales to the island of Taiwan, including 18 MK-48 Mod6 Advanced Technology Heavy Weight Torpedoes, spare parts and related services. This torpedo is an advanced heavy Torpedo currently in service by the US military. Third, hype up the theory of Taiwan's democratic success in fighting the epidemic and promote Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly. This is a flagrant violation of the one-China principle. 

A series of moves by the US took place at a sensitive time, during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the re-election of Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen.

Under the influence of the epidemic, China-US relations continue to deteriorate. Bilateral relations are entering the darkest period since the establishment of diplomatic ties 40 years ago. This is the main background for the US to frequently play its cards against China. China hawks in the US say the outbreak could shift the balance of power between China and the US. The US cannot sit idly by while China benefits. The "China virus theory" and the "China compensation theory" are both tools concocted by some politicians in the US to smear and suppress China.

China's response to the epidemic was remarkable. The US did not talk about it, but instead hailed Taiwan which has a population of less than 2 percent of the Chinese mainland. Each region has its own experience in fighting the pandemic. While affirming Taiwan's achievements, the US has been vilifying China, which has long lifted lockdown. In preaching the efficacy of democracy, the US might want to examine itself in a mirror. Why has the democratic model of fighting the pandemic failed in the US? The US leaders should know that neither playing the China card nor the Taiwan card will do much to help them fight the pandemic at home, and that people's health should always trump politics.

A series of US actions related to Taiwan are in an apparent bid to shore up support for the new term of Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen. As we all know, during Tsai's four years in office, cross-Straits relations plummeted. She has not been very successful in office, but she has received support from the US. When she was re-elected, many were pessimistic about the prospects for peace across the Taiwan Straits. The "non-peaceful reunification" theory has frequently appeared in the media, and many experts believe that cross-Straits relations may be heading for the worst. The US is well aware of Tsai's situation and hopes that by supporting her second term, it will encourage her to continue to stand at the forefront against the Chinese mainland and help the US to compete strategically with China.

Before the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US, the Taiwan question was the most sensitive and significant issue between the two countries. This fact has never changed. The political forces in the US are rethinking their policy of engagement with China and hyping up the Taiwan question, which has exposed the anxiety and powerlessness of the political elite on the China issue. The US should manage its emotions and effectively improve domestic governance that is riddled with loopholes due to the epidemic. At the moment of the election, voters should be convinced by sincerity, pragmatism and compassion, not by diverting conflicts and interfering in other countries' internal affairs.

The author is an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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