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Sharp Elbows Over Taiwan

Nov 15, 2021

The increasingly sharp conflict between China and the United States over the Taiwan question has not only seriously damaged the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations but also seriously affected the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait region. Looking back at the words and actions of the two world powers on the Taiwan question over time, it’s easy to see that the problem stems exclusively from a change in the words and actions of the United States. They have triggered a strong reaction from China.

First, the U.S. has gone to the extreme of double-dealing. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States in 1979, the U.S. has been two-faced. On one hand, it recognized the one-China principle through the well-known joint communique; on the other, it blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs through legislation known as the Taiwan Relations Act. Since then, the United States has continued to double-deal in attempts to manipulate cross-Strait relations.

This tactic has continued since President Joe Biden took office. Recently, Biden sent a delegation to the Chinese mainland. But then his old friend Chris Dodd led a visit to Taiwan by members of Congress. On one hand, Biden expressed a commitment to “one China” in a phone call with President Xi Jinping, and Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, met with Yang Jiechi to say that the U.S. would not change its “one China” policy. The White House, State Department and Defense Department also indicated that they had no intention of changing. On the other hand, the U.S. has been increasing its political, military and foreign relations contacts with Taiwan, and through the cooperation of the Taiwan authorities, the U.S. is accelerating its challenge to Beijing and promoting substantive Taiwan independence. Some politicians in the U.S. have now stopped hiding their intention to move in the direction of explicitly supporting the Taiwan authorities and opposing China’s reunification.

Second, the U.S. has hollowed out the “one China” policy and formed a de facto “one China, one Taiwan” operational concept. Politically, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, the U.S. has been working to hollow out the policy in violation of its commitment to China. In April 1979 the Taiwan Relations Act was enacted by the U.S. to interfere in China’s internal affairs in violation of the China-U.S. Joint Communique. This was the beginning of a pattern of using legislation to interfere in China’s internal affairs and in the Taiwan question.

Since then, the U.S. has become ever more addicted to this course. It is of particular note that, after 2016, the U.S. Congress further accelerated the intensity and frequency of passing Taiwan-related bills, including the Taiwan Travel Act, the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act and the Taipei Act of 2019. These acts continue to send false signals and move further away from the three joint communiques. They seriously undermine the political foundation of China-U.S. relations and embolden the Taiwan authorities to act more aggressively.

Militarily, U.S.-Taiwan collusion is becoming deeper and more open. It is of particular note recently that the U.S. has not only continued to sell arms to Taiwan and train troops, but has also openly called for the “defense of Taiwan.” In addition, Tsai Ing-wen has openly confirmed the U.S. military presence in Taiwan. It is obvious that Tsai would not have dared to do so without the tacit approval of the United States. Tsai’s release of this message is tantamount to a formal declaration by Taiwan and the United States that they have at least partially restored military ties for the defense of Taiwan, which has definitely broken through the bottom line drawn by Beijing on the Taiwan question.

In terms of foreign relations, the U.S. has openly supported official contacts between the Taiwan authorities and the Czech Republic, as well as other countries, maliciously creating a perception of “one China, one Taiwan” internationally.

Third, the U.S. has recently moved further in the same direction. It is aware of China’s mindset to seek political stability in the run-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics and the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2022. More important, the U.S. is aware of the gap between the military power of China and its own; therefore, it continues to stir up trouble by increasing the intensity and frequency of its efforts to achieve “one China, one Taiwan.”

With the cooperation of the Taiwan authorities, the U.S. intends to achieve some substantial results in Taiwan independence, splitting China and impeding the unification of the country. In particular, UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 rejected the so-called dual representation proposal put forward by the United States and other countries, which completely resolved the question of China’s representation in the UN politically, legally and procedurally. Recently, however, the United States has openly supported Taiwan's participation in the UN, which is clearly rehashing old debts and mistakes. By so doing, the U.S. is challenging the consensus of the international community and putting itself in opposition to the majority of UN members.

All these questions cover the basic context, facts and causes of the recent increasingly sharp conflict between China and the United States over Taiwan. China has a clear understanding of these U.S. practices, and neither the government nor the Chinese people will never agree to them. As everyone knows, the Chinese government has so far adhered to its commitment to peaceful reunification. Once the United States forces a fundamental change in China’s policy toward Taiwan, it will be difficult to avoid a non-peaceful solution in the future. U.S. interests in the Western Pacific are even less secure.

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