Rebel island: Is China once again ready to resolve the Taiwan question by force? | Latest news The Moscow Post
01 December 2023

Rebel island: Is China once again ready to resolve the "Taiwan question" by force?

A visit to "opposition" China, the island of US congressmen, which took place last week, forced the PRC leadership to make a number of harsh statements.

According to the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China, Senior Colonel Wu Qian "this undermines the political base of Sino-American relations, that the army (China - Ed.) Is ready for battle and will take all necessary measures to defeat any attempts at external interference and plans to break off Taiwan. The Chinese Defense Ministry regularly emphasizes its readiness to defend the independence and territorial integrity of the state, according to The Moscow Post.

Earlier, in early April, the United States approved the supply of $95 million worth of weapons to Taiwan, including a contract for servicing the Patriot air defense system. The package includes training, planning, deployment, operation, maintenance and support of the BOP system and associated equipment. According to the American side, this is in the "national, economic and security interests of the United States," supports the defense potential of the island. The Chinese Foreign Ministry called this another step towards the militarization of Taiwan and interference in the internal affairs of China.

For the first time in more than two decades, a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was announced. She unexpectedly "fell ill," maybe heeded Beijing's warnings. But the congressional delegation did come to the island, and unexpectedly. The Biden administration thus demonstrated its determination not to look back at the PRC.

Taiwan is not Ukraine...

They spoke especially vigorously about the "Chinese invasion" of Taiwan after the start of a special military operation in Ukraine. The US policy of "strategic ambiguity" towards Taiwan comes as Washington does not say whether it will defend the island militarily if China decides to annex it by force. At the same time, US military assistance is guaranteed and the armament of the island has been in full swing for several decades.

Of course, in the context of the development of the PLA, the gap in opportunities to successfully defend the territory of Taipei is becoming smaller. But the qualitative improvement of the army is also underway. Most observers assume that if the conflict happens, it will draw not only the United States, but also Washington's regional allies and partners. The most zealous political scientists argue that Europe may also be in a whirlpool of events, "if there is political will for this." The dependence of the European Union on the Chinese market is too great.

During a recent meeting in Brussels, the heads of NATO diplomatic missions discussed a new strategic concept for the alliance, which will also have a place to contain China. But hands have not yet reached Europe in the Taiwanese labyrinth, despite the desire of the European Union to be present everywhere. The conflict may require the participation of the UK and Australia, which are part of the AUKUS bloc. Perhaps Japan's potential will be involved.

NATO in Asia

The US and UK plan to arm Australia with atomic submarines is a concern for Beijing. AUKUS "not only increases the risk of nuclear proliferation, jeopardizes the international non-proliferation regime, but also aggravates the arms race in the Asia-Pacific region, undermines peace and stability," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Ukraine and Taiwan are two priority areas of Washington domestic policy, in which there is practically no discrepancy between the Democrats controlling Congress and the Republicans waiting in the wings. Ukraine is the spearhead of the spear of Washington and the West as a whole, aimed at Russia. Taiwan is also a tool for finding options to put pressure on China while political. The island is armed and the Americans take an active part in supporting and preparing its army.

Taiwan is at the center of America's strategy to contain China. This topic was key during the hearings before the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives of the US Congress. The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Committee of Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces Mark Milley. He called China the main "geostrategic challenge" for America in the long term, pointing out that Beijing is "working to narrow the technological gap with the United States."

"The conflict over Taiwan is much more dangerous than the Ukrainian one," some Kommersant observers say because its framework will be impossible to control. The official representative of the Russian diplomatic department, Maria Zakharova, recalled that the United States, increasing arms supplies to Taiwan, continues to create hotbeds of instability in the world using the principle of "incite and rule." The diplomat recalled that the recent deal for $95 million is the third during Joe Biden's tenure as president.

The office of the President of Taiwan also noted that the third "sale of weapons" in a year demonstrates the firm attitude of Joe Biden. "We look forward to working even closer with the United States and other stakeholders in the region, collectively responding to challenges and unilateral actions that could affect security, in order to maintain regional peace and stability," Taiwan's chief of staff Tsai Ing-wen said, taking these words to Beijing.

Trade, Geography and Chips

Recently, Taiwan has gained a special place in cross-party competition. Biden's White House and Republicans compete who would better "protect" the Chinese province from... China. Although the Americans recognized the island as a province of the PRC back in 1979, severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established them with the PRC. This became known as the "one China" policy. Taiwan has been known to be governed by local authorities since 1949, when remnants of Kuomintang forces fled to the island. It is easy to guess that the confrontation with the PRC emphasizes the democratic system of Taiwan.

For the United States, the island is important economically and in terms of technology. The island's bilateral trade with the United States exceeded $100 billion in 2021 and Taiwan ranked 8th among US trading partners. Eight years ago, he was ranked 12th. Taking into account trade in services, the volume of bilateral trade in 2020 amounted to about $106 billion with US imports of $66.7 billion. Imports of Taiwanese goods amounted to $60.4 billion. The imbalance in trade in goods in 2020 was in Taiwan's favor and amounted to $30.2 billion.

Chinese Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chiu Tai-shan said Taiwan holds a key strategic position in the Indo-Pacific's "first island chain" and also plays an important role in the global technology supply chain. The Diplomat magazine reported that the semiconductor industry in the American defense industry is no longer coping with updating chips and may in the future be completely dependent on Taiwanese supplies.

To prevent reunification from happening

"Tykanye" is considered an honorable matter for American politicians to be a Taiwanese issue in China, a sign of integrity in relations with authoritarian Beijing. It is clear that Taiwan willingly uses this, raising its status. A well-known example is a telephone conversation between the newly elected Trump and the head of the Taiwanese administration, Tsai Ing-wen. She called Trump after his election victory, congratulated and confirmed the importance of the island's ties with the United States in the field of economics, politics and security.

A year ago, the parties agreed with the Biden administration to create a working group on coast guard issues, on a joint "contribution to the freedom and openness of the regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans." Taiwan's military, with the participation of the United States, is conducting air defense exercises to test readiness to repel an air attack. The island's defence department has issued a pamphlet on civil defence and survival skills in the event of military action.

According to the Wall Street Journal, American military instructors have been secretly present on the island since 2020, working to strengthen Taiwan's defense. About two dozen American special forces and support personnel train ground forces units, and Marine Corps personnel work with the relevant units of the Taiwan Armed Forces.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Economic Club of Washington, Biden's national security aide Jake Sullivan said that the United States will take all possible measures to prevent Taiwan from reuniting with mainland China by force. "Our public policy is that we will take every possible measure to ensure this never happens," Sullivan said when asked about Washington's actions in the event of a Chinese conflict with Taiwan.

In other words, if such a conflict occurs, it will be a clash between the United States and China. Much will depend on the personality and party affiliation of the owner of the White House and his attitude towards China. The danger is that common sense in this direction of American politics may remain without the right to vote. Taiwan "protects" competing political forces, ignoring Beijing's claims that this area is an internal matter of the PRC.

Pompeo's final days

There are two lines of such protection. The first comes down to countering the so-called "aggressiveness" of Beijing, which, allegedly, intends to establish control over the island by force. China does not seek such a solution to the problem of the unity of the nation, but provided that Taipei does not speculate and flirt with the topic of "independence."

The second line is deliberately pushing the Taiwanese ruling elite to declare independence from the mainland in defiance of the agreements at the heart of China-US bilateral relations. This line causes extreme irritation among the Chinese authorities, is considered provocative and threatening real conflict.

At the game with these two scenarios, the confrontation of politicians unfolds. In particular, former US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo received the Diamond Star Order from the island authorities in March for his great personal contribution to strengthening bilateral ties. Taiwan's chief of staff Tsai Ing-wen called Pompeo "a great friend of the Taiwanese people."

Pompeo "earned" the order, because in a week, how to hand over the keys to his office in the State Department, lifted all internal restrictions on cooperation with Taiwan, which regulated contacts, including trips of diplomats, employees and other US representatives to the island. Six months earlier, the US administration also warned of contacts with the PRC. Then representatives of state and local authorities were not recommended to maintain ties with Chinese organizations on the mainland. Exchanges with twin cities fell into the category of "dangerous" contacts.

Thus, the "right" balance was built for further US contacts with Beijing and Taipei. Restrictions on contacts with Taiwan, as explained then, were introduced in order to "pacify the communist authorities in Beijing." Surrendering the powers of the Secretary of State, Pompeo "took" this task with him, prepared to become a holder of the Taiwanese order and "a great friend of the Taiwanese people."

Biden at the helm, but without windy

The crisis in Ukraine is not enough for Biden. At the last moment, the visit to Taiwan of the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Nancy Pelosi was "postponed." Beijing even threatened to give a "military response" to these plans, treating the venture as an attempt on the territorial integrity of China. "If the American side stands its ground, the Chinese side will certainly take decisive measures to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Pompeo's visit to Taipei took place immediately after the end of the visit of an unofficial delegation sent to Taipei by President Joe Biden. It was headed by former Chairman of the US Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen. The trip took place under the slogan of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as a matter of "American and global interests."

The White House did not calm down after Pelosi's visit was postponed. A delegation headed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham headed to Taipei. A group of six arrived in Taiwan on Thursday night last week for a brief unannounced road visit from Australia. Naturally, we were talking about Ukraine and relations between Moscow and Beijing in the context of anti-Russian sanctions. "We will make China pay a big price for what they are doing," Lindsey Graham threatened Beijing for supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Asked if Washington could send troops to help Taiwan in the event of a conflict with China, the senator said "all options are being considered," but dodged a direct answer. How Washington intends to force Chinese President Xi Jinping to "pay the price" for maintaining normal relations with Russia, he also kept silent.


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