Tai­wan Travel Act a dan­ger­ous trig­ger

Global Times - Weekend - - OPINION -

The US House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee on Thurs­day passed the Tai­wan Travel Act, which at­tempts to re­move re­stric­tions on of­fi­cial travel be­tween the US and Tai­wan at all lev­els that have been in place for 39 years. Be­fore the bill be­comes law, it must pass the House and Se­nate and be signed by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

De­spite hav­ing no le­gal va­lid­ity, the bill is noth­ing but a provo­ca­tion against China’s sovereignty, ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and se­cu­rity in­ter­est launched by Tai­wan and a few US con­gress­men. The act might just be a feint or it might also be­come a real at­tack.

It will not only set back re­la­tions be­tween China and the US, but also dis­as­trously over­turn cross-Straits re­la­tions. The few US con­gress­men who ini­ti­ated the bill and the Tai­wan side thought they have the lever­age to ar­bi­trar­ily up­grade re­la­tions be­tween the US and Tai­wan, but they have greatly un­der­es­ti­mated the sys­temic risks that their move may pro­voke. They per­haps do not know they are press­ing a fa­tally dan­ger­ous but­ton.

The Tai­wan ques­tion is es­sen­tially a ques­tion in­volv­ing the re­la­tions be­tween China and the US and the sta­tus quo mir­rors the bal­ance of mil­i­tary power be­tween China and the US over the Tai­wan ques­tion. On le­gal grounds, “One China” is widely rec­og­nized by the world and pre­vi­ous US ad­min­is­tra­tions ac­cepted it. It would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for the new Wash­ing­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion to do oth­er­wise. The US gen­er­ally has greater mil­i­tary might but Tai­wan is closer to the main­land. The main­land’s mil­i­tary strength is ca­pa­ble of ef­fec­tively de­ter­ring Tai­wan pro-in­de­pen­dence forces and the US army in the sur­round­ing area.

The Tai­wan ques­tion is China’s core in­ter­est and Bei­jing will not bow to Wash­ing­ton. The Tsai Ing-wen ad­min­is­tra­tion thinks the closer the US and Tai­wan get, the more se­cure is Tai­wan. This is a to­tal mis­judg­ment. China’s an­ti­se­ces­sion law stip­u­lates a se­ries of con­di­tions where the Tai­wan ques­tion is solved through non-peace­ful means.

The DPP ad­min­is­tra­tion should not think the main­land will hold back from tak­ing ac­tion against Tai­wan as long as US mil­i­tary forces are present. The main­land has a lot of lever­age and op­tions against pro-in­de­pen­dence forces and its will­ing­ness to ac­ti­vate these op­tions is far greater than the US’ will to stop the main­land.

The un­der­stand­ing of dif­fer­ent US ad­min­is­tra­tions on the cross-Straits ques­tion over the past four decades is gen­er­ally ra­tio­nal and prag­matic. We hope this ra­tio­nal­ity won’t be dis­rupted by the Tai­wan Travel Act. China will never use the Tai­wan ques­tion to cut deals with other coun­tries. China will de­fend the bot­tom line of cross-Straits re­la­tions at any cost.

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