Trump admin plays final card with last visit to Taiwan, gives ‘illusory cordial’ to secessionists
Published: Jan 07, 2021 11:20 PM

New US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft addresses a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 12, 2019. Photo: VCG

The US government continues to play its "Taiwan card" against China, with an announcement that the US ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft will visit Taiwan as well as holding a "political-military dialogue" with the island amid the turbulent White House power transition. 

Analysts said that even if the Trump administration is about to step down in two weeks, which makes Craft' s tour look like a token gesture, China should be alert to Washington's plot to internationalize the Taiwan question. 

In a press statement released on Wednesday on the website of the US Department of State which mainly states the US stance on Hong Kong affairs, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo abruptly announced Craft's tour, without mentioning any further details, including the time and topics at the end of the statement. 

Spokesperson of Taiwan authority in charge of foreign affairs Joanne Ou confirmed the news on Thursday, saying Craft's visit demonstrates strong US support for the island's "international engagement" and represents a further enhancement of the two sides' partnership.

The US and the separatist Democratic Progressive Party authorities in Taiwan held a virtual "political-military dialogue" on Thursday, without giving any details but claimed as "successful" by some officials on the island, according to Taiwan media.  

While Craft's position is not as senior as that of previous visitors like US Health Secretary Alex Azar and Keith Krach, the US State Department's undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and environment, her UN-related career makes the visit more hostile, which might aim at extending Taiwan's "international space," Diao Daming, an expert on US studies at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Taiwan decided to lift restrictions on importing Ractopamine-enhanced pork from the US after Azar's visit in August, while the meeting between Krach and Taiwan regional leaders in September failed to bring the Free Trade Agreement they wanted. 

Craft's dual role as a US politician and UN representative may offer an "illusory cordial" to Taiwan secessionists, said Huang Chih-hsien, an expert on cross-Straits relations and a TV commentator from Taiwan. She told the Global Times on Thursday that Craft's visit is a barefaced provocation to the one-China principle.

"Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory, and the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing China. These are internationally recognized facts, and the US made a clear commitment to this in the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the US," Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, on Craft's possible visit on Thursday.

China firmly opposes any form of official exchanges between the US and the island, and China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and security interests, Hua stressed. 

Sending a UN ambassador to Taiwan means that China should be wary of the US' possible intention of internationalizing the Taiwan question, which would make cross-Straits relations more complex… and China should also pay close attention to the upcoming Biden administration, which might inherit the strategy, Huang noted. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the DPP authority has repeatedly begged the US to help Taiwan join the World Health Organization (WHO) as a full member, seeking secessionism as the WHO could only be joined by sovereign countries under the UN framework.

Despite internal divisions and a surging epidemic, there are still extreme-right "China hawks" -- US politicians with hostile and biased views against China -  who seek to accumulate political capital for the 2024 race in their constant "anti-China jihad," Huang said. 

Huang noted that the Trump administration is engaged in a final frenzy over the Taiwan question, with both "political-military dialogue" and Craft's visit challenging China's bottom line.

"The Taiwan question is the internal affairs of China, which bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and concerns China's core interests... We demand the US immediately stop all official exchanges and military contacts with Taiwan," Tan Kefei, spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, said on Thursday. 

The Chinese People's Liberation Army will, with firm will and strong capability, thwart any form of external interference and Taiwan separatist attempts, resolutely safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and firmly safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, Tan said. 

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council also responded to Craft's possible Taiwan visit saying any DPP attempt to seek secessionism by relying on the US will backfire.