BEIJING – Washington has called the US delegation that arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday “unofficial”. Yet the delegation, which comprises former senator Christopher Dodd and former deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and James Steinberg, comes after the State Department said on Friday that it was issuing new guidelines lifting the previous restrictions on US government contacts with Taiwan.
The delegation is also scheduled to meet with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday. Anyone with eyes can see what is happening.
Since the new US administration took office, it has claimed that US-China relations are going to be competitive, not confrontational. Yet despite this, it has continued to push a tough line on China as vehemently as the previous administration, on issues ranging from so-called human rights violations in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to the South China Sea.
The stance Washington has taken on Taiwan is especially provocative, reflecting a greater willingness to play “the Taiwan card” in a comprehensive strategy to contain China’s rise.
The new rules for US government contacts with the island severely violate the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques — the political commitment made by the US on the Taiwan question — and along with the Strategic Competition Act, a bipartisan package designed to confront China’s economic and geopolitical power globally, which also reaffirms strong US support for Taiwan, send the wrong signal to separatists on the island and further complicate the situation across the Taiwan Straits.
The US knows how sensitive the Taiwan question is, yet it keeps pushing the envelope for its own geopolitical gains.
As Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said, it doesn’t matter whether this was being cast as an official or unofficial visit, its purpose is clear. And it will only exacerbate the tense situation in the Taiwan Straits.
The US should understand there is no room for China to budge on an issue that concerns its sovereignty, territorial integrity and core interests. The military exercise that the People’s Liberation Army is conducting off Taiwan, and the flying of its fighter jets and bombers many times in recent days near the island, all serve to send a strong message that the Taiwan question brooks no external interference, and any attempts to separate Taiwan from China will be resolutely opposed.
China’s determination to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. The US should stop playing with fire by continuing to light the pipe dream of “Taiwan independence” for separatists on the island.