US lawmakers’ Taiwan visit a ‘clumsy show’ to be overwhelmed by China’s reunification process
Politicians’ reckless act will put pressure on Biden admin
Published: Nov 26, 2021 11:56 PM
Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

Photo: Unsplash

After the virtual summit between top leaders of China and the US in which US President Joe Biden stressed it does not support Taiwan secessionism, the US once again sent a delegation to the island of Taiwan for a two-day visit, the second congressional delegation in November. 

The congressmen visited Taiwan's military authority and met with Taiwan's regional leader Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, discussing issues like regional security. 

The clumsy show put up by certain US politicians and the Taiwan authorities is only to be overwhelmed by China's reunification process and can never change the unbreakable landscape where 180 countries in the world are committed to the one-China principle. All erroneous acts that run counter to the trend of China's reunification are like ant trying to topple a giant tree and will end up in failure, Zhao Lijian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on Friday.

Some US politicians wantonly challenge the one-China principle, an unshakable norm in international relations, which has aroused strong indignation among 1.4 billion Chinese people. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory, not a card in international relations, Zhao said.  

The US should earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiqués, immediately stop official exchanges with Taiwan in any form, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related matters and clear the landmines and barriers in bilateral relations at an early date, Zhao said. 

The 17-member group, which arrived at Taipei's Songshan Airport Thursday night, includes Democrat Representatives Mark Takano, Elissa Slotkin, Colin Allred, Sara Jacobs, and GOP Representative Nancy Mace, Taiwan media reported.  

A Republican lawmaker delegation visited Taiwan on November 9, four of which were senators and two were House of Representatives members. But this time, the US Congress dispatched four Democrats representatives and one Republican representative.

Taiwan media reported that both visits were aimed at strengthening military cooperation, but observers from the Chinese mainland believe that two separate delegations suggest that politicians from both parties are jockeying for interests in Taiwan. However, the irresponsible behavior of the US Congress would hurt the momentum of cooperation and weak mutual trust between China and the US, which will eventually be transformed into pressure on the Biden administration.  

They said that the US politicians are unwisely hinting at the Chinese mainland by trampling on the one-China principle: the Taiwan card has become a major tool in containing the Chinese mainland, which only serves to hasten the pace of China's reunification process. 

On the same day, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command announced it has continued organizing naval and air forces to patrol with combat readiness in the Taiwan Straits, and such actions are necessary in response to the cross-Straits situation.  

The PLA Eastern Theater Command's action on Friday is apparently targeting the US' interference in the Taiwan question, analysts said. The PLA Eastern Theater Command conducted similar patrols in response to the group of US congressmen's visit to the island of Taiwan on November 9. 

The island of Taiwan is part of China and to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity is the sacred mission of the PLA. Forces of the PLA Eastern Theater Command would stay on high alert and take necessary measures to fight at any time against the interference of foreign forces and attempt of secessionists on the island of Taiwan, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said on Friday

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force formation conducts island patrols during training on April 26, 2018. The formation was made up of fighters, early warning and surveillance aircraft, and H-6K bombers, which took off from various military airfields. The formation flew over the Miyako Strait and Bashi Channel, completing an island patrol, the subject of the training.Photo:Xinhua

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force formation conducts island patrols during training on April 26, 2018. The formation was made up of fighters, early warning and surveillance aircraft, and H-6K bombers, which took off from various military airfields. The formation flew over the Miyako Strait and Bashi Channel, completing an island patrol, the subject of the training.Photo:Xinhua

Ignorance and irresponsibility

Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat representative in the delegation to Taiwan, said on Thursday that her office received a message from the Chinese Embassy in the US, urging her to call off the trip.

"The Biden administration apparently tacitly approved the trip," said Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing. "Slotkin was actually suggesting pressure did not come from the White House."

In a tweet on Friday, Nancy Mace described Taiwan island as "Republic of Taiwan," with a meme of the island's flag, which suggests support for Taiwan secessionists.  

No US executive official, especially a senior one, dares to say such a thing [Republic of Taiwan], because they are quite aware of its dangers and sensitivity, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Friday.  

 "Many members of the US Congress are ignorant of the Taiwan question. I think most of them have little idea of the complexity and history of the question. For example, the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus," Xin said.  

It is politically correct to be tough on China in the US now, so it is even more politically correct to bash China over the Taiwan question so that their reckless behaviors can be justified, Xin said. 

Xin said that the irresponsible big mouth cannot represent the attitude of the Biden administration, and does not means a change in US policy, let alone to deviate from the essence of cross-Straits relations.

Battle and balance

About a week after the GOP congressmen's Taiwan tour on November 9, Taiwan's "legislative" body on Tuesday approved the procurement regulation of an "air and sea combat capability enhancement plan," which involves eight items worth NT $240 billion ($8.6 billion) over five years.  

Democrat representatives are expected to visit Taiwan's military authority and veterans affairs council during this trip.

The visit is a balancing move between Republican and Democratic lawmakers who would be key to approving further arms sales to Taiwan, Diao said.

The visit, which was dominated by Democratic representatives, reflects the party's thinking: If the Republicans went to Taiwan, so should we. With cross-Straits relations strained, both parties want to jostle for advantage and gain initiatives for military cooperation, such as arms sales to Taiwan, Diao said. 

Besides party interests, experts said that using the Taiwan question to show an anti-China image and reap political benefits for themselves is also a common trick used by US congressmen. Aside from Takano, chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, most of the delegation was relatively junior with insufficient experience. 

For example, the expert said that Jacobs, a 32-year-old Democrat representing California's 53rd Congressional District, is facing pressure after California announced it would readjust 53 congressional districts to 52, Diao said. 

Most of the lawmakers in the delegation had served only one or two terms in Congress. Perhaps Washington wants to show that it does not want to irritate Beijing too much, as pressure on Beijing will eventually translate into pressure on the White House, Diao said. 

And it is not a secret that the Biden administration expects China's support and cooperation on issues like climate change, epidemic prevention and control and economic recovery.  

China's attitude is clear: the US cannot talk about cooperation while hurting the core national interest of China, Xin said.

He said that perhaps the Biden administration thinks Taiwan is just a card to play, and that sending congressional Democrats to Taiwan will help it put more pressure on China and gain more leverage. But such a move would further damage the already fragile mutual trust between Beijing and Washington, which would also hurt the momentum of cooperation.

"Ultimately, it's not in the US interest," Xin said.

The status quo in the Taiwan Straits has been broken, and the US and Taiwan secessionists are colluding and approaching the red line of the Anti-Secession Law, which will speed up the process for settlement of the Taiwan question, Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday.