By Gao Peining
At a critical juncture in the global fight against the COVID-19, the US has again played the old trick of containing China with Taiwan.
Recently, the US has frequently acted on the Taiwan question and has helped the Tsai Ing-wen administration go further on the road of fighting against the Chinese mainland and seeking separation, making China-US relations more complicated and variable.
The US Secretary of Health and Human Services publicly expressed support for Taiwan's so-called participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) on April 28, which was backed up by the Bureau of International Organization Affairs of US State Department on Twitter on May 1. Such expressions by the US have released the danger signal that it treats Taiwan as a sovereign country, which severely provoke the foundation of mutual trust between China and the US.
This Taiwan card played by the US is not a sudden attack. On March 4, the US House of Representatives passed the "Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019" by a unanimous vote, and helping Taiwan expand its international space is part of this act. With the support of its domestic laws, the US administration is even more fearless in destroying cross-strait relations.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US in the 1970s, the three Sino-US joint communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act have been the basic framework of the US policy. Maintaining the status quo of "No unification, No independence" on both sides of the strait is its long-term strategic goal. Even when Lee Teng-hui threw out the so-called "two-state theory" in the 1990s, the US government repeatedly reiterated that it does not support Taiwan's participation in any international organization that is only eligible for sovereign states. But at present, the US seems to intentionally be the promoter to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, which indicates that its Taiwan policy is undergoing historic changes.
However, it remains to be seen how much the US can achieve in expanding international space for Taiwan. Not long ago, Trump just announced that he would stop funding WHO, causing strong dissatisfaction from most countries in the world. This time the US government ignored the international rules and encouraged Taiwan to join the WHO. It is inevitable that few in the international community respond to that. Presumably, American politicians are also aware of this. Knowing that it will yield no results, they still choose to do it, which shows the evil intentions behind such words and actions.
At the beginning of this year, Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected as the leader of the Taiwan region. In accordance with established practice, she will deliver an inaugural speech on May 20, setting the tone for future governance, so it will be one of the most important bases for the outside world to interpret Taiwan's cross-strait policies. In the previous term, the Tsai Ing-wen administration's governing policy of anti-China and seeking independence has been fully exposed. Therefore, the outside world seriously concerns that whether she will go further on this wrong path in her second term.
Three countries cut off so-called "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan in 2019, heavily cracking down on the Tsai administration. At this time, the US stood up to support Taiwan in seeking international space. This undoubtedly cheers for Tsai Ing-wen's May 20 speech, and encourages her to continue to act as an agent of the US in the Western Pacific as well as an anti-China pawn.
The US is quietly changing the existing situation on both sides of the strait through a series of actions. From a larger perspective, the change of US policy toward Taiwan is not accidental, but a part of its comprehensive strategy to contain China. The Trump administration has launched trade wars and technological wars against China one after another since 2018. After the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, some US politicians launched a public opinion war against China to shift blame and divert domestic pressure. They even encouraged other countries to pursue claims against China. Against this background, disrupting the situation in the Taiwan Strait by playing the "Taiwan card" aims to exert greater external pressure on China.
The Taiwan question is China's core interest and the bottom line of China that cannot be challenged. The US deliberately stepping on the line is nothing else but playing with fire. China has never compromised on issue of territorial sovereignty. If the US does not have a clear understanding of this, and repeatedly probes and even breaks through China's bottom line, it will eventually bring fire to itself.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has carried out combat readiness patrol in the Taiwan Strait region on many occasions to test the capability of multi-service integration and joint operations since February this year. Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said publicly that the troops are determined and capable of thwarting all "Taiwan independence" separatist activities.
It would be thoroughly unwise for the US government to ignore the solemn warning issued by China, misjudge China's confidence in defending its territorial sovereignty, and make historic mistakes on the Taiwan question and China-US relations.
(The author is a commentator at China.org.cn.)