A Chinese anti-submarine reportedly violated Taiwan’s airspace by entering into its air defense identification zone on Tuesday, which Beijing claimed to be a warning to Taipei to refrain from declaring independence.
On Wednesday, October 7, China issued new threats of military action against Taiwan after the island’s principal opposition party, the Kuomintang Party (KMT), called for the reestablishment of diplomatic ties with the United States.
Beijing’s warning to Taipei came amid US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Asia tour, aimed at garnering support against China.
“We must no longer hold any more illusions. The only way forward is for the mainland to fully prepare itself for war and to give Taiwan secessionist forces a decisive punishment at any time. As the secessionist forces’ arrogance continues to swell, the historical turning point is getting closer,” wrote Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times, in an editorial on October 6.
Hu also mentioned that the “current status of the island of Taiwan is only a short period in history that will definitely come to an end” and that the initiative of ending this period while “minimizing losses and maximizing gains toward the rise of China” remains with Beijing.
“The more trouble Taiwan creates, the sooner the mainland will decide to teach Taiwan independence forces a hard lesson,” Hu added.
A Chinese anti-submarine reportedly violated Taiwan’s airspace by entering into the island’s air defense identification zone on Tuesday, which Beijing claimed to be a warning to Taipei to refrain from declaring independence.
In an astonishing reversal from its long-held stance of favoring Beijing’s “One-China” policy, the KMT proposed two anti-China bills in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan. The first bill called for the government to persuade the US to come to Taipei’s aid in case of a potential Chinese attack, on the basis of the Taiwan Relations Act as well as more recent legislation passed in support of Taiwan, such as the TAIPEI Act, Taiwan Travel Act and the proposed Taiwan Assurance Act. The second bill urged the government to restore formal diplomatic relations with Washington.
The proposed legislation stated that in response to any action by the Chinese communist authorities to subvert Taiwan’s democratic existence “Our government ought to try and persuade the United States to lend us help diplomatically, economically, and/or through direct military intervention.”
Both the bills were passed unopposed on Tuesday, in a rare show of bipartisanship in Taiwan’s electoral politics.
“We wish for the world to see and understand that we in Taiwan, across Party lines, are determined not to seek war, but also equally determined not to fear war,” the KMT caucus stated.
This sudden shift in KMT’s ideology, which has predominantly been a party of Beijing loyalists in Taiwan’s political landscape, has taken many by surprise, including the current Taiwanese administration. Members of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which considers Taiwan a sovereign nation, described the language in the bills proposed by KMT as “unprecedented.”
Many experts attribute this unprecedented solidarity within Taiwan’s political fraternity to the political unrest in Hong Kong that has seen anti-government protests for over a year now.
The Global Times’ Hu called the KMT legislators “losers,” who were no longer trustworthy.
“On the upside, those politicians’ treachery have helped the Chinese mainland see clearly what is happening on the island,” Hu wrote in his editorial.
Beijing has been an avid proponent of the reunification of Taiwan through force in recent times. In 2019 at a public forum, a former Chinese National Defense University professor and prominent Chinese commentator Dai Xu emphasized that “there is no need to view the threshold of reunification through force as that high.”
“Military approach and economic engagement serve equally as the ways and means to promote reunification with Taiwan,” Xu told the audience.
Criticizing Beijing’s Taiwan policy, a Taipei-based senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and expert on China-Taiwan relations J. Michael Cole told VOA on Wednesday that the global community had become skeptical of the mainland governance model and China’s unabated aggression against Taiwan had led many countries to “take a second look at Taiwan.”
“For many years, countries have allowed Beijing to define for them what their ‘one-China’ policy is,” said Cole, adding that nations were beginning to define the policy for themselves.
Referring to a top Taiwanese diplomat in Washington Hsiao Bi-Khim, who recently updated her Twitter bio as “Taiwan Ambassador to the US” – a title never formerly used by Taiwan’s envoy to the US, Cole said, “You can certainly put it in the context of warmer ties between the U.S. and Taiwan. If we were in a period in which the US is unhappy with Taiwan, State Department would have given [Hsiao] a call and say, please remove that.”
The coming together of Taiwan’s political class against China, and their interest to establish diplomatic relations with the US, is a departure from their earlier stand not very long ago.
In September, Taiwan declared that it would not follow formal diplomatic ties with the US for now while maintaining that there was “a lot” of room to further strengthen US-Taiwan relations.
“We are not seeking full diplomatic relations with the United States at this moment,” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told the American media organization National Public Radio (NPR) in an interview on September 20.
Wu’s statement followed unprecedented visits to Taiwan by two senior US diplomats in the last two months. US Health Secretary Alex Azar traveled to Taipei in August, the first trip by a top US official to the self-ruled Island in four decades. In late September, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach visited Taiwan to attend a memorial service for late Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui.
The two men were the highest-ranking US officials to visit Taiwan since Washington cut formal diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 to establish ties with Beijing.
During Krach’s visit, China held maritime and airspace combat drills near the Taiwan Strait to unnerve Taipei. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed on September 17 that two Chinese anti-submarine aircraft had flown into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. The alleged violation of Taiwanese airspace happened a day before Krach was due to arrive in Taipei amid escalating tensions between China and the US.
The growing bonhomie between Washington and Taipei has irked Beijing, which sees it as a threat to China’s territorial sovereignty and claims Taiwan to be an integral part of China. The Chinese administration effectively restricts nations from giving diplomatic recognition to Taiwan and prevents it from joining multilateral organizations, including the United Nations.
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