After the US government passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act late last month, the Chinese government announced early this month that it would retaliate by suspending visits to Hong Kong by US military ships and imposing sanctions on five US non-governmental organizations for instigating the “anti-extradition” protests in the territory.
The US Navy has a long history of making port calls in Hong Kong. Although it has military bases in the region, including the Port of Manila and Da Nang Port in Vietnam, the US still favors Hong Kong for several reasons, including the high level of English proficiency in the territory, the living standard and the safety of the food supply.
After the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, Beijing and Washington signed an agreement for Chinese reviews of US applications for US military ships and aircraft visits to be done on a case-by-case basis. Beijing’s indefinite suspension of all applications is a breach of that agreement.
The US presumably is not too surprised at this, as China has repeatedly denied US naval vessels permission to dock in Hong Kong since 1997 for political reasons at times of high tension between the two countries, such as the 2001 collision between a US EP-3 surveillance plane and a Chinese J-8 fighter, the 2006 sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea, last year’s climax in the US-China trade war and when Washington passed the act in support of Hong Kong.
US Senator Ted Cruz, who is known for his friendliness to Taiwan and even attended Republic of China National Day celebrations this year, once suggested that the US make port calls in Taiwan. There are signs that Washington might be making preparations for this.
In June 2017, the US Senate Committee on Armed Services passed a provision in a 21-to-six vote that would allow US warships to make port calls in Taiwan. Due to protests from China, the bill was never voted on in the US Senate. At the end of that year, the American Institute in Taiwan reportedly contacted local marine supply operators, hoping that private companies would take over the supply of food, fresh water and daily commodities for US warships in the Taiwan Strait. In October last year, the US Office of Naval Research’s Thomas G. Thompson docked at the Port of Kaohsiung for three days. Although the Taiwanese and US sides called the visit an academic exchange, there was no lack of replenishment for the ship.
This shows that as China rejects port calls in Hong Kong by US warships, Taiwan — which has the geographic advantage of being between the South China Sea north of the Philippines and the East China Sea south of Japan — is the best choice to take over.
From the perspective of the US’ “one China” policy, this could perhaps be seen as going a bit too far, but politically speaking, it is not at all impossible that Washington will use port calls as bargaining chip in its attempts to restrain Beijing.
Yang Chung-hsin is a researcher of China affairs.
Translated by Eddy Chang
For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s “century of humiliation” is the gift that keeps on giving. Beijing returns again and again to the theme of Western imperialism, oppression and exploitation to keep stoking the embers of grievance and resentment against the West, and especially the US. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that in 1949 announced it had “stood up” soon made clear what that would mean for Chinese and the world — and it was not an agenda that would engender pride among ordinary Chinese, or peace of mind in the international community. At home, Mao Zedong (毛澤東) launched
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
To say that this year has been eventful for China and the rest of the world would be something of an understatement. First, the US-China trade dispute, already simmering for two years, reached a boiling point as Washington tightened the noose around China’s economy. Second, China unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, wreaking havoc on an unimaginable scale and turning the People’s Republic of China into a common target of international scorn. Faced with a mounting crisis at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) rashly decided to ratchet up military tensions with neighboring countries in a misguided attempt to divert the
Toward the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) final term in office, there was much talk about his legacy. Ma himself would likely prefer history books to enshrine his achievements in reducing cross-strait tensions. He might see his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore in 2015 as the high point. However, given his statements in the past few months, he might be remembered more for contributing to the breakup of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). We are still talking about Ma and his legacy because it is inextricably tied to the so-called “1992 consensus” as the bedrock of his