On Oct. 31, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome. Chinese state media and netizens dined out on a report that Blinken had entered the hotel where the two met through a side entrance. This was interpreted as the US being in an inferior position and subservient to China.
Reports of the meeting indicate that its main purpose was to discuss issues relating to Taiwan. Wang reportedly warned Blinken that the “Taiwan problem” has the potential to topple the US-China relationship and that a top priority for both sides is to make political preparations for the next stage of the China-US relationship.
Blinken reportedly said that the US opposes any unilateral action by China that could alter the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait and reassured Wang that Washington has not altered its “one China” policy.
The language used by the two implies that Beijing has the upper hand and Washington is on the defensive.
In terms of the US-China relationship, Washington sees the climate change issue as its trump card.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) contribution to the COP26 was merely to send a written statement to the world leaders in attendance. US President Joe Biden expressed disappointment in Xi’s failure to make commitments.
Regarding trade and economic policy, on Oct. 26, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪) spoke on the telephone with Xi’s trusted lieutenant, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴).
As the Chinese side is a long way away from meeting its commitments under a “phase one” US-China trade agreement, all Washington can do is hope that enhanced dialogue and calm communication might galvanize Beijing.
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley made two telephone calls to his Chinese counterpart during the administration of then-US president Donald Trump. Milley pledged that he would warn his counterpart in the event of an imminent US attack on China. This guarantee prompted Beijing to accelerate its military expansion.
Despite US communication with China failing to bear fruit in other areas, the Biden administration has relaxed some of its sanctions against China-based Huawei Technologies Co and repeatedly conveyed an eagerness to seek compromise.
Naturally, Beijing is drawing the battle lines around the “Taiwan problem” and has been preparing for a showdown with the US administration over Biden’s pledge to defend Taiwan.
China hopes it can compel the US to abandon its policy of strategic ambiguity and adopt an unequivocal “one China” policy.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is like a gang of hoodlums that bullies the weak, but cowers before the powerful. Chinese military aircraft entering Taiwan’s air defense identification zone have recently begun issuing their own radio messages, pre-emptively calling on Taiwanese fighter jets scrambled to intercept them to leave the area.
It is pure propaganda, as are rumors spread by Chinese state media that Taiwanese are panic buying daily necessities because they fear a war with China.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese are discussing how many people would likely be killed or injured during the first wave of an attack by China.
Beijing’s purpose is twofold — to manufacture an atmosphere of impending war to spread panic among Taiwanese and to coerce Taipei to beg for peace; and to provide the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) with an opportunity to sow confusion and disorder.
Who knows whether war will break out, but is certain is that for every day that the CCP continues to exist, the possibility of war cannot be ruled out.
Taiwanese must face up to this reality and debate how best to respond. Only if the public recognizes the reality of the threat will it remain calm and keep a cool head in tumultuous times.
In defending the sovereignty of the Republic of China, let alone a formal declaration of independence, Taiwanese would necessarily pay a price, but if Taiwan surrenders, multiple generations would pay the price.
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese have been paying a price and since 1997, Hong Kongers have been paying a price. When will it stop?
If Beijing is preparing to overturn the US-China relationship, this will naturally include its relationship with Taiwan.
In addition to bolstering its self-defense capabilities, Taiwan must also improve its self-preservation in every field outside of military defense, especially national security.
The nation must escape the clutches of the National Security Act (國安法) and formulate a martial law act that would provide a future government with a legislative basis to enact the emergency powers it would need in the event of a war. Without a martial law act, how would the government take on the enemy, weed out foreign spies and guarantee social order?
The now-defunct martial law act should be updated to suit today’s circumstances.
If the US were to expand its military presence in Taiwan, this would certainly help to keep China from invading. Before Xi was born, the US had troops garrisoned in Taiwan, with their presence lasting until he was a little boy playing in the courtyard of his parents’ home. He was just was not aware of it.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Edward Jones
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