US-China Cross Swords Over Taiwan

Keith Krach

The US efforts to ruffle-feathers with China does not seem to cease as US has sent its senior Keith Krach to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan on September 17, 2020, as the reports published in The NewYorkTimes  1  informs. This visit was destined to become controversial as it is a well known fact that any US meddling inside Taiwan irks China. The occasion of Keith Krach visit has been to attend to memorial service for the former President of Taiwan Lee Teng-Hui who is also known for an acronym as Mr. Democracy. US through this visit wanted  to put into an effort to bolster its support for Taiwan in the face of opposition from Beijing.  Keith Krach is under-secretary for  economic growth, energy and the environment,  and his visit is perhaps of the ‘highest-level’  as a US official from the State Department,  to visit Taiwan in recent  decades. If the headline of the news of NYT (on September 17, 2020) is to be analysed it can be easily deduced that China has been reasonably ‘upset’ by the visit as the message from the headline was loud and clear ‘ U.S. Official Visits Taiwan, and China Warns of Consequences’.  It may also be stated that Krach’s visit actually reflects the growing mark of US  instigation to China as it came ‘just one month after Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, became the  highest -level US cabinet member to visit Taiwan since 1979’ 2 .

The reaction came as was expected as China considers Taiwan to be its territory and sent ‘two anti-submarine aircraft into the island’s air defense identification zone,’ The anger got through The Global Times 3 through which the Chinese Foreign Ministry official in Beijing said that Krach’s visit undermined relations between Beijing and Washington and warned that China would respond “as necessary.” “Once the People’s Liberation Army dispatches troops to reunify the island of Taiwan, the military equipment from the U.S. will be nothing but decorations” and even as Krach visit was on China started to engage in real combat-drills in Taiwan Straits and practically encircled Taiwan from all the four directions.  The Politico.Com informs on September 18, 2020 4, ‘China’s military sent 18 planes including fighter jets over the Taiwan Strait in an unusually large show of force as a U.S. envoy held a day of closed-door meetings on the self-governing island claimed by China. Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang called the drills a “legitimate and necessary action taken in response to the current situation across the Taiwan Straits to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”’

China’s postures can well be ascertained as it announced that its army drills were not warnings ‘but rehearsal for Taiwan takeover’ as posted through The Global Times editorial on September 18, 2020 5 .  This editorial is vocal about all the conflicts which China is into in the recent past i.e. Hong Kong, India and Taiwan.  ‘The US and Taiwan must not misjudge the situation, or believe the exercise is a bluff. Should they continue to make provocations, a war will inevitably break out. Those who have underestimated China’s determination recently have all paid the price. China decisively put forward the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong. China has shown that it doesn’t fear war on the China-India border. The Taiwan Straits is by no means a place where separatists can act recklessly. If Taiwan authorities try, they will definitely be met with the mainland’s military solutions.
Taiwan is a small place. It has no conditions for a modern military confrontation. Taiwan independence is a dead end’.  The US position got through NYT again  on September 18, 2020 6  in which ‘Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official overseeing China policy who is now a professor of public policy at the National University of Singapore, said that the latest flights were provocative, intended to send a political message and to test Taiwan’s “ability to simultaneously track multiple sorties.”

Hence, the swords between US and China are equally drawn. As now China seem to have got it clear that US wants Taiwan be cut from China and become an independent state, which would mean an end to One China Two Systems formula as it is in the case of Hong Kong too.

China wanted  Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen  to loose but she won and in order to  mock China she forwarded her birthday-greetings to PM Modi  on September 18, 2020 on her twitter , which in fact even Modi and his home minister Amit  Shah could not fathom in context to the exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama on July 7, 2020, 7  in order  to keep China’s sensitivities into perspective.  Tsai Ing-Wen efforts to ridicule China had been her tough-talking supplemented by her donning military fatigues! It was only in July last that she was in a helmet and green military uniform overseeing Taiwan five-days annual military exercise aimed at China, as reported by The Financial Express on July 16, 2020 8 and on September 16, 2020 9 she did finalise a seven billion USD ‘arms-deal’ with US which includes drones and cruise missiles as an answer to China.

Thus, the China-US conflict which is already ‘going on’ in South China Sea from quite sometime is now getting more profound, along with that with India too in the Himalayas. US and India are into together to block China is the straits of Malacca with the help of Indonesia where India has a military base 10 ,  and China too has ranged itself against India in its Arunachal Pradesh and in Himachal Pradesh as well, where at Dharamshala, the exile-Tibetan government headquarters are placed. Thus, through the aggressive posturing by China in Taiwan it is also to give a message to all the contenders in conflict with it, hence, in order to equalise India, China would surely be fiddling with India’s seven-sister states in the North East. China has already blocked India’s 10 patrolling points in Ladakh 11.  If this US-China situation escalates in Taiwan then the fears of the third-world-war just cannot be ruled out as India would join from the US side and Pakistan from the Chinese.  All the nations are nuclear-armed.  Some very ominous signs seem to linger around the world at the moment.

The writer is a former Uttar Pradesh State Information Commissioner. He writes on international politics.




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