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US will burn itself by playing fire with 'Taiwan card'

By Chen Weihua | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-05-31 07:00
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The People's Liberation Army's latest naval drills around Taiwan island have sent a powerful and timely message to the separatists on the island that any attempt to seek "Taiwan independence", and to the external forces trying to interfere in the Taiwan question that using cross-Taiwan Strait relations as a tool to contain the Chinese mainland, is doomed to failure.

The naval drills were held after the new Taiwan administrative head, Lai Ching-te, in his inauguration speech on May 20, indicated he stood for "Taiwan independence", and challenged the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China.

Lai's outrageous speech made it clear that he is a hardcore "worker for Taiwan independence".And the PLA's drills were held to warn Lai to stop daydreaming about "Taiwan independence".

Adding fuel to the fire, however, Lai's predecessor Tsai Ing-wen recently said "the cost (for Beijing) of taking over Taiwan is going to be enormous" and "what we need to do is (to) increase the cost".

Lai, Tsai and their ilk are underestimating the unwavering resolve of the whole Chinese nation's determination to achieve national reunification.

Beijing will make the utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification, but it will never rule out the use of force to achieve that goal if external forces interfere in the Taiwan question and the separatists on the island try to seek "Taiwan independence".

Cross-strait relations developed rapidly not just in trade and investment but also in terms of people-to-people exchanges after virtually no contact between the two sides of the Strait for almost 40 years after 1949.

It is especially true after Kuomintang won the island's local elections in 2008. From 2008 to 2016, under then Taiwan island leader Ma Ying-jeou, the island had very friendly relations with the mainland. It was also the time when cross-Strait trade and other exchanges reached their peak.

But the positive trend has reversed in the past eight years, thanks mainly to Tsai's policy, which changed the status quo and threatened cross-Strait peace, stability and prosperity. Like her successor, Tsai, too, refused to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus.

The military drills are to prevent Taiwan politicians such as Lai and Tsai, and their party, the Democratic Progressive Party, from going too far with their "independence" agenda, as well as to warn the United States against using Taiwan as a tool to further its "Indo-Pacific" strategy that the PLA held the drills.

That incumbent US President Joe Biden and his predecessor have sent more wrong signals to the separatists on the island than any other US president is very clear. During a Brookings Institution discussion last month, Rorry Daniels, managing director of Asia Society Policy Institute and a China specialist, warned that the more Washington supports "Taiwan independence", the more the threat of force against the island.

She listed numerous such US policy changes. For example, the US government has changed the language of regular policy statements, replacing "support for an outcome acceptable to both sides of the Strait" with an outcome acceptable to (only) the people of Taiwan, refers to Taiwan as a "country" in its National Security Policy documents and State Department fact sheets, has deleted statements on the State Department website which said it would not support "Taiwan independence", and approved of high-level political visits by US officials to Taipei including that of former House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi in August 2022.

The list of such provocations is very long. US naval warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait in January and Biden sending a delegation to Taiwan for Lai's inauguration are some of the latest provocations, not to mention Biden's erroneous remarks on Taiwan that were walked back by White House officials.

Some US politicians are trying to misinterpret UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 which states the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate representative of China. But the US should know that helping "Taiwan independence" forces is playing with fire. And by doing so, the US will only burn itself.


Chen Weihua

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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