Taiwan Straits will be a place where the US will finally show its true ‘paper tiger’ face
Published: Jul 29, 2022 12:28 AM
Nancy Pelosi Photo: AFP

Nancy Pelosi Photo: AFP

China and the US are locked in an intense clash over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's possible visit to the island of Taiwan. Two of the expressions used by China to describe the country's attitude are very rare, namely: "We are fully prepared for any eventuality," and "PLA will not sit idly by if Pelosi visits Taiwan island."

Let me interpret what these words mean.

The second line was delivered by Tan Kefei, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of National Defense, on Tuesday. China does not utter such words lightly. On October 3, 1950, when former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai called an emergency meeting with the Indian ambassador to China and asked the latter to convey China's strong warning to the US, Zhou said that US troops were trying to cross the 38th parallel and to expand the war, and if the US military really wanted to do this, China would not sit idly by but it would be forced to act. Later that month, the Chinese government fulfilled its warning and sent Chinese People's Volunteers army to participate in the war in North Korea.

In 1964, in the aftermath of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Chinese government issued a solemn statement that aggression by the US against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam means aggression against China, and the Chinese people would by no means sit idly by. In April 1965, Zhou warned the US through then Pakistani president, asking the US troops not to cross the 17th parallel (the military boundary between North Vietnam and South Vietnam) otherwise, the Chinese people would not sit idly by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Because of the lessons of the Korean War, the US accepted the warning from China and did not dare to cross the 17th parallel on the ground until the US troops withdrew from Vietnam.

Another example is the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis, which was widely interpreted as a declaration that the Chinese mainland would never sit idly by in response to the US attempt to split Taiwan from China and promote "two Chinas." The shelling of the Kinmen lasted for 21 years.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense at the moment has clearly warned Pelosi not to visit Taiwan, saying that otherwise the PLA will not sit idly by. The message conveyed the same determination and attitude we expressed when resisting US aggression and aiding Korea and Vietnam and launching the Kinmen artillery action. If Pelosi insists on visiting Taiwan, the US will for sure learn the iron will of the Chinese military again, and will refresh its memory that the Chinese people should not be insulted and the Chinese military should not be disrespected.

As for the sentence "We are fully prepared for any eventuality," this was uttered by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday, one day before Tan.

"We are fully prepared for any eventuality" is an idiom and is difficult to translate into English so that Americans can understand its deep meaning. It is not a preparation in the general sense, nor does it mean to keep the army ready for combat, but a status that means the troops have been already lined up, soldiers are in place and ammunition is loaded so that the battle can be started any time. 

"We are fully prepared for any eventuality." Chinese foreign ministry sent the message through this sentence that China has made all-around deployment, primarily of military means, to give a head-on blow to Pelosi's planned Taiwan visit, thwart her conspiracy to support Taiwan secession and split China. China has prepared for an escalation of confrontation and also prepared to teach hawks in Washington a bitter and heavy lesson with a price that the US side cannot afford. 

It's should be pointed out that it will favor China more if China-US confrontation occurred over Pelosi's visit, than any other frictions. Because China is fully justified on this matter as the whole world acknowledges that the Taiwan question concerns China's core interests. The US is obviously escalating provocations, which puts China on the moral high ground. Now the US side is making inconsistent statements, and the Taiwan authorities don't even dare to comment, this is because they understand they are the unjustified side.

The PLA has conducted countless trainings in response to a possible crisis in the Taiwan Straits. Our military resources in this region are unmatched by the US. We have sufficient moral and strength capital to go forward. Now is the time for a battle of determination and will between the two sides. Even if the US mobilizes all the conventional military forces it can mobilize in the Asia-Pacific, China won't be frightened. In addition, the US has now been unable to use nuclear deterrence to make up for the insufficient conventional military deterrence against China.

I would like to advise the US to keep calm. China has rapidly strengthened its nuclear deterrence in recent years. At the Tiananmen Square military parade in 2019, there were 16 new-type strategic nuclear missile launchers carrying Dongfeng-41, all with multiple warheads. At that time, China had more than 16 such missiles. Nearly three years later, Dongfeng-41 has become the main force of China's land-based intercontinental missiles' strategic deterrence against the US. The US is also highly suspicious of the deployment of a large number of strategic missile silos in China's Gansu and Xinjiang, and senior US officials said the progress of China's nuclear power was "breathtaking." The US does not have any leverage today to pressure China to step back on the Taiwan question.

This time, the Chinese mainland will definitely put up a sturdy fight to the end to thwart Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, without fear of any escalation. The US and the island of Taiwan, who have received a heavy lesson, must fully understand that the red line is a high-voltage one that they cannot step on. Otherwise, the US could face high-intensity crises, including risks that could lead to severe military conflict. I believe that the Taiwan Straits will be the place where the US will finally show its true "paper tiger" face. As for Taiwan authorities, they will show themselves as shivering "paper mice."

The author is a commentator with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn