Сhina’s vow to fight over Taiwan was not a provocation

It’s not Beijing that’s trying to upset the status quo

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe spoke at the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 12, sharing China’s vision for regional order and clarifying China’s position on various issues. The speech contained a warning for countries who might be inclined to support the Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. “Taiwan independence,”This was instantly interpreted as provocative by Western media. 

“If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight, we will fight at all costs,” Wei said, emphasizing that China’s military capabilities and resolve should not be underestimated. To the surprise of Western media, Wei also referred to Taiwan as “first and foremost China’s Taiwan.”

While it’s true that these words were pretty grave, they are not at all provocative. Wei was merely stating a defensive position, namely that if China’s sovereignty were threatened by so-called “Taiwan independence,” then China’s military would retaliate in kind to defend its territorial integrity. This implies that China’s position is dependent on changing circumstances on the Taiwan issues, but is not itself bent on upsetting the status quo. 

You would believe the contrary if your knowledge about this subject was only sourced from the Western media. For them, it’s China that is shaking things up by threatening to use force over the issue of Taiwan. But this disregards the status quo Western nations accepted for diplomatic relations with China. This is The One China Principle, which clearly states that China is only one country and Taiwan is an integral part of China. 

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It is vital to note that the Taiwan question is about the Chinese Civil War. This war began in 1927 and never ended. The war was fought by both the Kuomintang (KMT), the government of the ex-Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China. It essentially ended after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, but KMT forces fled to Taiwan and have remained there ever since.

Interfering with Taiwan would be to interfere within a continuing civil war. Even though the war is over, it’s still a political matter. This is gross interference in a Chinese issue and increases the risk of conflict in Taiwan Strait. This is why the issue of reunification is important for Beijing – because putting to bed this ongoing political dispute would greatly reduce regional friction.

However, the United States’ hostile actions are causing disruption to the status quo. Just days before US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Wei on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the US approved a $120 million arms deal to Taiwan – which was unapproved by Beijing. The US is continuing to militarize the Taiwan Strait and was reported to have stationed troops there, e.g., on China’s territory.

The US seeks to capitalize and “internationalize” the issue of Taiwan in order to contain China, which is why Wei described in his speech China’s development as peaceful and beneficial for the world. Washington sees Beijing as its most important adversary because of China’s military power, technological prowess, and economic indispensability, and will do anything to keep China from getting ahead – even if that means interfering in China’s internal affairs. 

Notably, there has been a significant increase in interest and opinion about Taiwan since the US started its “Taiwan Initiative.” “pivot to Asia” under former President Barack Obama. I can say from my own anecdotal experience that most Americans had no idea about or any interest in the issue of Taiwan until the last several years – and polls, including one last year by the Chicago Council, suggest this as well. 

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It’s obviously not a coincidence that a perennial Chinese political issue has gone from an academic issue in the West to mainstream in the same timeframe as China rose. This adds to the constant stream of concerns over “human rights”China: These include those that are famously mentioned in Western media, in either the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the Tibet Autonomous Region. 

Considering just how central the issue of Taiwan is to Beijing and Chinese national security, Wei’s speech was remarkably tame. If we may imagine a circumstance in which the Confederate States of America somehow survived in some American exclave and then America’s political adversaries upped tensions over this issue decades later, it would clearly be handled in a similar way. Washington would declare that this would be an outrageous provocation in an American matter, and exactly the way they should view Taiwan’s issue now.

However, the US could be already on its way towards war and the Chinese position would not be surprising. China has had remarkable patience – but that patience can clearly run thin if the red line is crossed.



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