•The latest move comes after US President Joe Biden signed a bill on May 13 aimed at facilitating the Secretary of State to draft the requisite documentation for Taiwan to return to the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer.
•it creates unnecessary tension between the countries at a time when the need for rapprochement has never been more urgent and important
In another case of playing hide-and-seek, the United States has come up with the "US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade" deal. In a nutshell, this initiative includes trade and economic cooperation in diverse areas including digital trade enhancement, trade facilitation, sound regulatory practices, SMEs, environmental protection, standards, and addressing non-market policies.
These are areas that get to the core of Taiwan’s inner governing structures and obviously aimed at making Taiwan US-compliant and malleable. Experts say it is actually a covert scheme aimed at undermining China’s authority on its autonomous territory through an all-encompassing governance initiative that drives Taiwan away from Beijing’s social, economic and political authority.
Consequently, the program drives a wedge between Beijing and Taipei, which is music to the ears of Washington. It is still unclear how the initiative fits in US’s recently unveiled China countering strategy - “invest, align, compete”. But it creates unnecessary tension between the countries at a time when the need for rapprochement has never been more urgent and important not just between the two most powerful countries in the world, but for the latter as well.
While the US claims that a strong China is good for the world, it resents what its geopolitical adversary can do with that power. The US has perfected the art of doublespeak not just on the Taiwan Straits, but virtually in all matters of a bi-lateral and multi-lateral nature related to China. It is the vibe one got during the Foreign Affairs Magazine Centennial Celebration held on June 1 when Secretary of State Anthony Blinken fielded questions from journalists.
Among other issues, Blinken was put on the spot on the fact that he has previously indicated that Beijing’s vision of, and approach to global order is not acceptable from US’s perspective. Ironically, while the US welcomes China’s strength, the former finds everything China does with that strength objectionable. Again, the US attempting to have its cake and eating it.
America’s paranoia is understandable. Having lost its undue influence in Hong Kong after the city State fully reverted to motherland China, the superpower knows it is just a matter of time before Taiwan follows suit, and is restored back to its rightful historical belonging.
The inevitable and ultimate consolidation of all Chinese territories will thrust China towards attaining the largest economy in the world status. That would definitely be a humbling albeit intimidating experience to the US due to its geopolitical implications.
China’s response to the latest provocation was swift. At a press conference on Thursday, Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng reiterated that the move flew in the face of the binding One-China policy which the US acknowledged years ago in principle.
The Taiwan initiative also goes against the three joint Sino- US communiques which act as guidelines in bilateral relations between the two countries. The initiative is also contrary to international law and the basic norms of international relations as it grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs.
The latest move comes after US President Joe Biden signed a bill on May 13 aimed at facilitating the Secretary of State to draft the requisite documentation for Taiwan to return to the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer. This will, of course, undermine China’s centralized and successful fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the achievement of “zero Covid” which President Xi Jinping has sworn to achieve. It also usurps due process that WHO needs to undertake in such an event.
US unilateralism is hurting the world. It keeps other countries in check so that it can run roughshod over their rights in order to achieve its selfish designs. It is an unsustainable modus operandi that is gradually being met with resistance and backlash.
The US is guilty as charged. Its actions send a clear message to Taiwan separatist forces that the superpower would support the country’s detachment from the motherland. It was also a daring gesture to China, going by previous insinuations that the latter could use the Russia playbook to invade Taiwan, in a snide reference to the ongoing Ukraine war.
Well, the US is poking its finger at a caged Tiger. Although the tiger is an ancient Chinese animal symbol that represents dignity and majesty, it also symbolises ferocity, sternness, and courage. The writing is on the wall. As Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian warned at a press conference on Thursday, the US is pushing its luck too far. “If the US insists on playing the "Taiwan card", it will only bring China-US relations into a dangerous situation.”
The writer is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi based research and development communication think tank.