CHINA / POLITICS
US reaffirming commitment only to ‘fool Taiwan separatists’ in face of its Afghan fiasco
Published: Aug 18, 2021 11:38 PM
Illustration: Xu Zihe/GT

Illustration: Xu Zihe/GT



Chinese analysts mocked the remarks of White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who said that the US' commitment to Taiwan "remains as strong as it's ever been," pointing out that actions speak louder than words and that Washington's reassurances are astonishing against the backdrop of its abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan.

They said that once the price for keeping its strategic interests with Taiwan becomes unbearable, the US will abandon Taiwan island without hesitation. 

During a press conference on Tuesday, in response to questions that people in Taiwan island and elsewhere are fearful that the US will abandon them like it did in Afghanistan, Sullivan stressed that the US' commitment to its allies and partners are "sacrosanct and always have been" and said Taiwan is a fundamentally different question in a different context from Afghanistan. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also stressed at the press conference that "We stand by, as is outlined in the Taiwan Relations Agreement, by our - by individuals in Taiwan. We stand by partners around the world who are subject to this kind of propaganda that Russia and China are projecting."

Sullivan's remarks come as the unexpected end in Afghanistan has "shocked" US allies and partners, who criticized the hasty withdrawal as a humiliation and striking a blow against the US' credibility. 

Online posts tagged "Yesterday's Saigon, today's Afghanistan, and tomorrow's Taiwan?" stirred heated discussions in Taiwan as many said that the so-called alliance that Taiwan has forged with the US is nothing but an empty promise. 

However, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority of Taiwan is trying to downplay the fact that the US' reputation as an ally has suffered a huge blow. 

Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday on the situation of Afghanistan that Taiwan's only choice is to make itself "stronger and more unified to more firmly defend itself." 

Some Taiwan netizens mocked that "unified? Half of the people in Taiwan don't buy DPP's policies of catering to the US, let alone the vivid example of Afghanistan. We want to ask who Tsai wants to unify?" 

In response to Sullivan's remarks on the US' commitment to Taiwan, analyst said that lip service is so easy to make and the Americans are willing to do so as long as some forces in Taiwan are willing to be fooled. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that Sullivan's response is diplomatic language which only functions to cheer up Taiwan's DPP and encourage them to further go against and distance themselves from the Chinese mainland.

Apart from selling arms and clamoring for values, the US would not have more concrete measures, nor will it have a military conflict with the mainland for Taiwan separatists, Li said. 

Sullivan had to make the remarks to not only encourage the US but also Taiwan. Simply making a comparison between Afghanistan and Taiwan is not accurate, as Afghanistan is an independent country and Taiwan is a province or part of China, experts said. However, it does not alter the US' consistency in terms of leaving behind partners or allies when the costs outweigh the profits, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times. 

The reason why the US devotes efforts to dispatching troops and pouring money into Afghanistan is for the interests of itself, likewise in Vietnam and Iraq. "Fling off and leave a mess - such history appeared more than once and the one in Afghanistan definitely won't be the last," Xin said, noting that some people in Taiwan island know this, but they dare not or could not admit it.

"Some politicians in Taiwan claim that Taiwan is different from Afghanistan so the US will not abandon it. Who gives them the courage to say such words?" Xin asked, saying that at least from the historical point of view, sending thousands of US soldiers to fight for Taiwan secessionists to keep the US' reputation and promise will not happen. 

Taiwan is the synthesis of the strategic interests of the US in the Taiwan Straits and the comparative calculation of strategic costs. When the day comes that the US has to pay a huge or unbearable price to maintain these interests, the US would leave, Xin noted. 

"Before the US forces withdrew and the Taliban captured Kabul, I believe that many from Afghanistan's government forces must have had the same thought as the Taiwan authorities now," Xin said.


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