US can 'assure Taiwan nothing'

By Yang Sheng Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/1 22:42:42 Last Updated: 2020/9/1 23:24:27

China should prepare for 'showdown' on island as Washington escalates hostility: expert

Wreckage of a US-made U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft is on display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing. The military on the island of Taiwan used U-2s to conduct reconnaissance missions on the Chinese mainland since January 1962, and the PLA Air Force shot down the first U-2 on September 9, 1962 in the suburbs of Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi Province. Photo: Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has warned the US not to go any further on a "wrong and dangerous path" on Tuesday, after the US declassified its detailed documents showing illegal assurances that were made by Washington to the island of Taiwan in 1982 and posted them on the American Institute in Taiwan's (AIT) website on Monday. 

Chinese mainland experts said in the past, Washington was cautious about playing the "Taiwan card" in dealing with Beijing and it kept a low-profile on making exchanges with Taiwan as Washington used to concern about Beijing's reaction, but the latest move has proven that the hostility among US decision-makers against China is unprecedented, and China should seriously prepare for a final "showdown" with the US on the island.

The US released two declassified cables from nearly 40 years ago on its security assurances, or the so-called "six assurances," to the island of Taiwan that reflected the US' commitment to the island after it discontinued recognition of the island's "sovereignty" and established formal diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1979. The two cables from 1982, declassified on July 16, 2020, and posted on the AIT's website earlier on Monday, focus on arms sales to Taiwan and the 'Six Assurances' made to the island.

The six assurances are: the US has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan; Has not agreed to consult with the PRC on arms sales to Taiwan; Will not play a mediating role between Taipei and Beijing; Has not agreed to revise the Taiwan Relations Act; Has not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan; Will not exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with the PRC.

Former US president Ronald Reagan secretly made these assurances to the Chinese island territory in 1982 without informing the PRC. The assurances were made following calls from US defense experts, former officials and pro-Taiwan politicians who received funding as political donations from the island's authorities while serving in Congress at the time. 

But these assurances are not a secret at all, the US was previously low-profile and few of its diplomats and officials would openly talk about the issues during formal occasions, as they cared about the mainland's reaction, said experts.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a routine press conference on Tuesday that "the Taiwan Relations Act and the so-called six assurances that the US unilaterally made to Taiwan has seriously violated the one-China principle" and "the China-US Three Communiqués" - the "political foundation and fundamental preconditions" for China and the US to establish diplomatic ties.

"From the very beginning, China has always opposed" the six assurances and the Taiwan Relations Act, as they are "totally incorrect, illegal and invalid," Hua said.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of the PRC, remarked on Tuesday that "the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority's act to rely support from the US for its separatist activities will face consequences, responding to the DPP authorities showing gratitude to the US for reaffirming its assurances.

Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Renmin University of China's School of International Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday that in the past, China had made it very clear to the US that the Taiwan question is the relationship's most sensitive issue, so the US has kept a low-profile even if it played the Taiwan card from time to time.

But the unprecedented hostility that the Trump administration has shown toward China could at least remind Beijing to abandon any illusions and prepare for a final showdown with the US regarding the Taiwan question, he said. 

"Now we are not sure if the US would dare to establish formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan or not, and what China can do is to prepare for the worst-case scenario and speed up its military preparation. Once the US breaks the bottom line, the mainland must solve the problem by force once and for all," Jin stressed.  

Taiwan Photo:VCG

'Unable to assure anything'

Although hyping these declassified documents is provocative, the US State Department's top diplomat for East Asia still wants to make it clear that this was not a US policy shift, as the Trump administration understands the consequences, said analysts. 

David Stilwell, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told a virtual forum hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation that the US' latest moves were not a policy shift, but part of a set of "significant adjustments" within Washington's longstanding "one-China" policy, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

In fact, both US politicians and the Taiwan separatist authorities understand that the US can assure Taiwan nothing if the mainland launches a military operation to reunify the island, and this is why the US always keeps its commitments or assurances to Taiwan vague, Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The US dare not make any clear assurances to Taiwan on sending troops to fight in a war with the mainland once the island is reunified with the mainland by force, and the assurances instead focus on how to make the island an ATM for US military industrial giants, said mainland experts.

Lü said the authorities on the island also understand that they are "pawns on a chessboard" and that's why they are also afraid of a miscalculation with the mainland.

Taiwan gets frightened 

The latest incident has revealed that Taiwan authorities are worried about a potential conflict caused by a miscalculation or accident. A US military aircraft appeared in the skies over Taiwan on Sunday, which was suspected of taking off from a Taiwan-based airfield and flew to Japan, according to a Beijing-based think tank. 

But on Monday, the Taiwan "air force" immediately said the information was "totally against the facts" and accused the mainland think tank and media of "releasing disinformation to damage regional security and stability," according to Taiwan media

A Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times "it's hilarious that the Taiwan military has accused the mainland think tank and media with such a tone, because it was them and the US who increased military interactions and activities to provoke the mainland recently. And they didn't explain why the aircraft's ADS-B signal was detected in the skies over the island."

This could be a US military plot to fabricate the signal to show the positioning of the aircraft in  Taiwan "airspace," increasing the chances of miscalculation and military conflict with the mainland, but the US didn't inform the Taiwan military, and the island's authorities became  extremely frightened and worried about its own security once the tensions escalate, but they also dare not blame their "American bosses," said the expert.  

Lü said a series of ongoing drills in four different regions of the West Pacific by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have already displayed China's stance and determination on the matter, as well as military preparation for a final showdown.

Since the US seeks to maintain its provocations, then the war of words would be useless, and China's reaction would be to reveal more of its military operations instead of solely releasing statements, he noted.


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