It would be wrong for Washington to consider China’s tolerance of its provocations as a sign of weakness. This would be dangerous. Washington should know by now that China will never give an inch when it comes to its territory.
As China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Wednesday, China will not be intimidated no matter how many warships or bombers the United States sends to the South China Sea.
She was speaking on Wednesday after the US air force confirmed that two B52 bombers conducted exercises near China’s Nansha Islands, and Washington is reportedly considering sending an aircraft carrier battle group through the Taiwan Straits.
These are just the latest provocative moves of the US. They join a long list, including the so-called freedom of navigation operations by its warships in the vicinity of or even within China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea, its sales of weapons to Taiwan, its new “Taiwan Travel Act”, and its officials’ or military officers’ rhetoric about a “China threat”.
It is all reminiscent of its past gun boat diplomacy.
However, as Hua said, if someone keeps displaying their muscles on your doorstep and peering through your windows, would you ignore it or would you take action?
The reiterations by Chinese leaders on numerous occasions that the country’s rise is peaceful and it has no intention to subvert the current international order seems never enough to alleviate the suspicions of Washington that China is a threat to US supremacy.
China knows how important its relations with the US are, not only to the interests of both countries but also to the peace and development of the world. And because of this, it tries as much as it can to keep the differences and even disputes with the US under control. It always puts the large picture of China-US relations as well as the world situation before its grievances on specific matters.
But that does not mean it will concede ground to Washington’s strong-arm tactics. It has its bottom line. Should the US send an aircraft carrier battle group through the Taiwan Straits, it would quite likely send the wrong signal to the secessionists on the island. And any move by the island to declare “independence” would be consequential.
The US should think carefully before rocking the boat in that way. No one should underestimate China’s resolve to defend its territorial integrity. It will never compromise on this.