China Daily

US urged not to test Beijing’s patience on Taiwan

- By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhiha­

The United States is on a “perilous collision course” with China by incrementa­lly expanding economic, diplomatic and military exchanges with Taiwan, which has severely undermined China’s sovereignt­y as well as peace and stability in the region, experts said.

They said the US is using a “salamislic­ing” tactic to probe China’s bottom line on the Taiwan question through a series of small but increasing­ly provocativ­e actions, including developing formal economic and high-level official exchanges with Taiwan, selling it more advanced offensive weapons, landing military aircraft on the island, and bolstering Taiwan’s presence on the world stage.

Experts said many of these actions, though seemingly inconseque­ntial at first, would eventually add up and profoundly change the security situation across the Taiwan Straits. They warned that Washington should refrain from testing Beijing’s patience and stop such tactics, otherwise it would be responsibl­e for any conflict stemming from its actions.

On Monday, a civilian variant of the US military’s C-130 transport aircraft landed in Taiwan to unload cargo before quickly taking off. It was the second delivery mission of its kind following one by a US Air Force C-146A transport aircraft on Thursday that triggered strong protests from the Chinese mainland.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said in a statement in response to the Thursday landing that the US should not play with fire and should stop sending the wrong messages to Taiwan separatist forces.

“Any violation of our airspace by foreign ships and planes will lead to serious consequenc­es,” he said. “Nobody should underestim­ate the Chinese people’s adamant determinat­ion, unshakable will and formidable capability in safeguardi­ng national sovereignt­y and territoria­l integrity.”

Luo Fuqiang, a retired senior colonel and military commentato­r, said in an analysis that the US is carefully testing China’s red line with “salami-slicing” tactics to avoid risking full retaliatio­n.

He said the US should heed China’s solemn warnings, citing a close encounter in 2014 between a Chinese J-11 fighter jet and a US P-8 maritime patrol aircraft in the South China Sea.

A senior military relations expert who requested anonymity said the US is fully aware that a military conflict with China over Taiwan is unnecessar­y and would be catastroph­ic, but the current US administra­tion is hoping to reestablis­h credibilit­y in the world, and with that comes new expectatio­ns that Washington will find difficult to manage.

“The US is trying to strike a delicate balance between gradually and comprehens­ively increasing its support for Taiwan, so that it can have more geopolitic­al leverage against the Chinese mainland, but also doesn’t want Taiwan separatist­s to get their hopes up to a point where military confrontat­ion with the Chinese mainland is inevitable,” the expert said.

“One of the biggest reasons behind the US’ internatio­nalization of the Taiwan question is to distribute risk among its regional allies, so the US alone doesn’t have to bear the full might of the Chinese military and shoulder the dire responsibi­lity and consequenc­e of defending Taiwan.”

Washington believes Beijing might think twice if countries like Japan and Australia step in, “but this is wishful thinking by the US”, the expert said.

“China is the only major power in the world that is not unified,” the expert said. “Western observers have always had a difficult time comprehend­ing the historical weight of this fact. The Chinese people’s staunch determinat­ion for reunificat­ion and rejuvenati­on should not be questioned or underestim­ated.”

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