US kidnaps and controls Taiwan’s future

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/2 13:54:08

Wang Zaixi Photo: Li Hao/GT

Editor's Note:

Tensions are high across the Taiwan Straits, and an increasing number of Western media outlets ask if an outbreak of war is possible in the region. Are the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s drills in the Taiwan Straits a strategic deterrent or prelude to war? What is behind the current US administration’s Taiwan policy? Where will the situation head after the US presidential election in November? Wang Zaixi (Wang), former deputy director of the Beijing-based Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits, shared his insights with the Global Times (GT).

GT: The collusion by the US and the island of Taiwan have become more and more intensive, including visits by high-ranking US officials to Taiwan and selling of arms to Taiwan. As a response, the PLA Eastern Theater Command began to organize real combat-oriented exercises in the Taiwan Straits. In your opinion, are these military exercises a deterrent strategy or prelude to war?

Wang: The recent combat exercises of the PLA Eastern Theater Command in the Taiwan Straits are aimed at dealing with the current situation. The duration, scale and level of these exercises are unprecedented. Their purpose is to deter “Taiwan independence” forces and to issue a stern warning to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities; that is, if they think they can do whatever they want with the support and protection of the US, and dare to take a crucial step on the path of pursuing “Taiwan independence,” the Chinese mainland will be forced to take military actions to solve the Taiwan question, bringing disaster to Taiwan compatriots. 
The military exercises are also aimed to warn the US that the Taiwan question is an internal matter of China that does not allow for foreign interference. The US sent its deputy secretary of state to attend the funeral of former Taiwan regional leader Lee Teng-hui, the “godfather of Taiwan independence.” The intentions of this action are extremely sinister. The US not only intends to promote official relations with the island of Taiwan, but it also obviously emboldens those Taiwan separatists. 
There is no room for compromise when it comes to China’s core interests. I hope that the DPP authorities will take the mainland’s red line seriously and never underestimate the firm determination and strong will of the 1.4 billion people on the mainland in defending national sovereignty and territory. Whether it is a prelude to war or not depends on the DPP authorities’ next actions.

GT: It has been reported that the US plans to send high-ranking officials to visit Taiwan in the future. Does this mean that the Trump administration's policy of supporting "Taiwan independence" has become increasingly clearer?

Yes. The recent course of actions taken by the US on the Taiwan question has become increasingly outrageous. Despite China's warnings, the Trump administration approved the sale of advanced weapons and equipment to the island of Taiwan, including offensive weapons, sent its minister of health and deputy secretary of state to visit Taiwan, and made various excuses for US military aircraft and ships to reach Taiwan. These actions have made US-Taiwan relationship break through the civil framework and changed its nongovernmental nature. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US, successive US presidents have adhered to the basic position of pursuing the one-China policy and not supporting "Taiwan independence." After Trump was elected, however, in order to contain and suppress China, he has significantly adjusted US strategy and policy toward Taiwan. First, instead of "not supporting Taiwan independence," he has openly encouraged and supported it. Second, instead of advocating for the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, he blatantly and deliberately creates tensions. China sincerely hopes that China-US relations can develop normally and healthily, and that the Taiwan question can be resolved peacefully. The US policy toward China and the island of Taiwan is now heading more and more off track. This may cause certain obstacles to China's economic development and modernization process in the short run. But in the long run, even if there are twists and turns in China's development, it is impossible to stop it.

GT: How do you comment on Trump’s Taiwan policy? Do you think it is driven by economic or political interests?

The Trump administration’s Taiwan policy is mainly driven by political interests, but he also benefits economically. For the US, playing the “Taiwan card” has little costs, but the impacts and harm it causes to China are great. The US trade war, technological war, financial war and diplomatic war against China are mutually damaging. It does not cost the US anything to send a few officials to the island of Taiwan, utter a few words to support Taiwan, or sell weapons and equipment to boost Taiwan’s inventory. Playing the so-called Taiwan card is a cost-effective means which will cause great harm. 
In addition, the US can also reap economic benefits from Taiwan, such as from its arms sales to the island. This is the most profitable business and it is done at a fixed price, and Taiwan authorities don’t have any opportunity to bargain. The US recently sent its secretary of health to Taiwan, and immediately demanded that Taiwan import pork and beef from the US despite the US meat contain clenbuterol, as it couldn’t offend the US after the latter showed its support to Taiwan. Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen is prepared to take the risk of importing unhealthy beef and pork from the US, despite receiving opposition from the majority of people in Taiwan. Trump is a businessman. He gains both political and economic interests when he plays the Taiwan card and it seems to be that Tsai herself is willing to be taken advantage of.

GT: What do you think will be the future trend of US-Taiwan relations after the US presidential election? What is the point at which the US and the island of Taiwan will stop boosting their relations?

Since Trump launched trade war against China, interactions between the US and the island of Taiwan have become more frequent. Obviously, the US has repeatedly used the Taiwan card as the most effective trump card against China. 
Objectively speaking, the US and the island of Taiwan have common needs in containing the development of the Chinese mainland, and their strategic interests are mostly consistent. In order to contain the peaceful rise of China and hinder China’s modernization, the US will definitely make every effort to make use of the Taiwan question to attack China and make waves in China. The DPP authorities are well aware that if they rely on their own strength, Taiwan can hardly act as a counterweight to the mainland. It must rely on protection from the US and thus obtain more opportunities in the international community. 
In this case, Tsai willingly and proactively threw herself into the arms of the US, catering to and cooperating with the US to provoke the Chinese mainland. To some extent, Taiwan is now deeply controlled by the US. From my perspective, if China-US relations continue to deteriorate in the future, US-Taiwan relations will become closer, and cross-Straits relations will remain tense or even become tenser, even after the US presidential election. It is worth noting that the US is now promoting the US-Taiwan cooperation in the military field both overtly and covertly. The US deliberately emboldens and conspires with those “Taiwan independence” forces to stir up troubles for the Chinese mainland, hoping that if Taiwan and the mainland fight, the US can reap the spoils. If DPP authorities really think their engagement in “Taiwan independence” ensures their protection by the US, it will be a historical mistake that would lead to disastrous consequences. 
Fundamentally speaking, US-Taiwan relations depend on China-US relations. The US and the island of Taiwan will become distant only when China-US relations improve.

GT: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and the so-called median line is non-existent. Some netizens in Taiwan argued that the “median line” was not a tacit understanding between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, but instead between Taiwan and the US, even calling this announcement a “showdown” by the mainland. How do you interpret the so-called median line and the reaction on the island of Taiwan?
The “median line” has only been a unilateral line drawn by the Taiwan “Air Force” as a buffer line for air force activities on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. The state of military hostilities between the two sides of the straits have not ended and a military confidence-building mechanism has not been established so far, so the Taiwan military has never negotiated with the Chinese mainland military on the “median line” and therefore it has never been recognized. 
In terms of territory, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The mainland air force has the right to fly, train and patrol in its own airspace. 
There is no question of whether flying over the “median line” is border-crossing. In my view, in order to ensure peace and security above the Taiwan Straits, the military or relevant departments on both sides should sit down and discuss this under the premise of the one-China principle. This is purely an internal issue of China and has nothing to do with the US. The US has no right to intervene.

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