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Despite US bid, Taipei's push for independence doomed to failure

By Li Zhenguang | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-26 06:49

Luo Jie/China Daily

Some conservative forces in the United States that intend to use the Taiwan question to check China's rise and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's attempt to split the island from the motherland pose a serious threat to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On May 5, the US Department of State revised the Taiwan fact sheet on its website, by adding vague clauses to US-Taiwan relations and its stance on "one-China", sparking suspicion on Washington's stance on the Taiwan question.

Worse, answering a question at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the so-called Quad conference in Tokyo on Monday, US President Joe Biden said China is "flirting with danger" over the Taiwan question, and vowed to intervene militarily to protect the island if it is attacked. Which was a gross violation of the one-China principle that forms the basis of Washington-Beijing relations.

Although Biden, on his first tour of Asia as US president, prefaced his remarks saying US policy toward Taiwan "has not changed", he contradicted the long-standing US policy in the region. But within minutes, the State Department started walking back on Biden's remarks.

Nevertheless, this is not the first time Biden has said the US would defend Taiwan if it is attacked.

So, despite the State Department's statement later that the US is still committed to the one-China principle, Biden's remark will send a wrong signal to secessionist forces on the island, shaking the cornerstone of peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. It could also lead to severe consequences.

For a long time, the US has been saying it "does not support Taiwan independence". Compliance with the three US-China Joint Communiques, which clearly stipulate on one China is the foundation of stable Sino-US relations, can play a key role in maintaining peace and stability across the Straits. Yet, along with Biden's remarks, the US State Department's update on the Taiwan question has shown the US' two faces.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that "we regularly do updates on our fact sheets", and while some wording may have changed, "our underlying policy has not changed". In particular, Price stressed that "we do not support Taiwan independence and we have repeatedly made this clear both in public and in private". But facts belie his claim.

The State Department's fact sheet revision can be interpreted by secessionists on the island as US political support and encourage them to more aggressively seek "independence".

Therefore, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, China will have to step up efforts to deter the pro-independence forces on the island. And the US would be to blame for any conflict that breaks out between the two sides of the Straits.

Biden's remarks and the State Department's move will undermine Sino-US relations. The US' recognition that "Taiwan is part of China" is the political foundation for the two countries' diplomatic ties and the political basis for Washington and the island to engage in unofficial economic and cultural exchanges.

But of late the US administration has ramped up efforts to be provocative on the one-China principle and pave the way for Taiwan to join international organizations and help the island to take part in international affairs as an independent entity. Washington's support for the island to take part in this year's World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization's decision-making body, is the latest provocative move against Beijing.

But given China's strong determination to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the support of other countries which uphold justice and play by UN rules, any country trying to split China is doomed to failure.

Neither the revision of the Taiwan fact sheet by the State Department nor the island authorities' attempts to collude with outside forces can change the fact that Taiwan is an integral part of China.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

The author is deputy director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University.

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