Thu, Jun 20, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Chinese aggression could backfire

By Manik Mehta

In this day and age of the Internet when transparency reigns supreme, despite all its measures to suppress freedom of expression and conceal facts, China’s continued threats against Taiwan and the US can only galvanize world opinion — and, indeed, even unify the world — against any possible Chinese aggression on Taiwan.

Beijing’s latest outburst came on the heels of remarks early this month by then-US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. China reacted angrily to US steps aimed at showing solidarity with Taiwan and demonstrating its visibility in the South China Sea, where Beijing is engaged in a massive military buildup, brushing aside the sovereignty of smaller neighboring states that also have claims to islands there.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Major General Shao Yuanming (卲元明) described Shanahan’s remarks as “inaccurate” and said that he was “repeating old tunes” about the issues of Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Shao even suggested that this was “harming regional peace and stability,” maintaining his silence over China’s aggressive military buildup targeting Taiwan and its tightening grip on the South China Sea.

He also issued a sharply worded warning that China would defend its “sovereignty” at any cost if anyone tried to “separate” Taiwan from its territory.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has on several occasions threatened to use force to return it to the “motherland’s fold,” although Taiwan has, historically speaking, never been part of China.

“China will have to be reunified,” Shao said. “If anybody wants to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will protect the country’s sovereignty at all costs.”

Without specifically mentioning China by name and merely using a general reference to “actors” that cause instability in the region with their constant threats on Taiwan and the South China Sea, Shanahan had said that the US was not going to “tiptoe” around China.

This was clearly a strong message to Beijing that Washington would step up its presence in the region if China engages in any reckless adventure against Taiwan or smaller neighboring states.

The US last month already dispatched a warship near Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島), which China claims as its own, although this is a disputed island.

The act aggravated the already tense relations between the US and China, which are locked in a trade dispute that could escalate and hit global trade.

While the dispute is hurting certain sectors in the US, such as farmers and other exporters to China, it is having a drastic effect on China’s exporters, who cannot find an alternative market as lucrative as the US.

Chinese Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和), who also attended the Singapore event, accused the US of using “negative words and actions” with regard to the Taiwan Strait.

Wei warned Washington against underestimating the Chinese military’s determination, will and ability to safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The event, which focused on global security issues, was dominated by the Shanahan-Wei duel. While Shanahan’s “tiptoe” comment was a reinforcement of the US’ determination to stop China from making unilateral territorial changes and create a fait accompli for the smaller states in the region, which are unable to stand up against Beijing, US President Donald Trump’s administration has made it clear that it would not allow China to engage in any belligerence.

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