A country must have a strong national defense and harmonious international relations if it wants to defend its sovereignty. The heart of Taiwan’s international relations lies in its relationship with the U.S. a relationship that has been warming in recent years. According to the U.S. military, on July 24, the USS Antietam guided-missile cruiser passed through the Taiwan Strait. Clay Doss, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, indicated that the warship passed through the Strait to display the U.S.’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Coincidentally, Chinese authorities released a new white paper, “China’s National Defense in the New Era,” that same day. A large part of the paper is dedicated to sharp criticism of Taiwanese independence. Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian stated, “By the Democratic Progressive Party insisting on taking a separatism stance, not acknowledging the 1992 Consensus and relying on foreign powers to bolster itself, it is going further along the path toward separatism. Through this white paper, the message we want to send is very clear.” He added, “To seek Taiwan independence will get nowhere and China will never allow any part of its territory to be separated.”
In fact, matching Beijing’s increasingly tough foreign policy, the tone toward Taiwan from diplomatic and military departments has grown increasingly critical; the words are heated and more thinly veiled. Before President Tsai Ing-wen’s foreign visit, the People’s Liberation Army announced it would conduct routine military exercises in the South China Sea. Tsai had no other choice but to complain that China performs routine military exercises every time she visits abroad.
Nevertheless, elaborate deceptions hide malicious intent. China’s Ministry of National Defense, who accused Taiwan of this so-called reliance on foreign powers, actually did so for the U.S. to hear. China hopes that its military exercises against Taiwan will kill two birds with one stone: announce that it will not rule out military force to control Taiwan, demonstrating its possession of Taiwan’s sovereignty, and warn anti-extradition protesters in Hong Kong, then, by turning from exports to imports, it will fan the flames of ignorant Chinese citizens’ xenophobia, thereby shifting the focus to political austerity, economic recession and diplomatic defeat.
However, Beijing’s strategy was revealed early and has been obviously ineffective. This move led Washington to develop a clearer strategy and protect Taiwan more actively. On June 9, the Trump administration officially notified Congress about the authorization of two arms sales to Taiwan: M1A2T Abrams tanks and portable Stinger missiles, related equipment and support worth more than $2.2 billion. According to Rep. Michael McCaul, an adamant supporter of the arms sales and member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in the book “The Diplomat,” Taiwan is the U.S.’s staunchest ally. Currently confronted with the most direct threat of aggression from the Communist Party of China, Taiwan won’t face it alone. The U.S. wants to send China a clear message: Do not provoke Taiwan. Not only this, but McCaul anticipates that Congress will soon receive official notification about the sale of F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan, which he will strongly support.
The U.S.’s actions reveal the high priority given to American security and the preparations the U.S. is making for the worst case scenarios. McCaul’s statement that Taiwan will not face this threat alone explains why, starting this year, the U.S. has been sailing through the Taiwan Strait. Before the USS Antietam on July 24, the USS Preble and USNS Walter S. Diehl sailed on Jan. 24, the USS Stethem DDG 63 and USNS Cesar Chavez T-AKE-14 on Feb. 24, and the USS Curtis Wilbur and USCGC Bertholf on March 24. On April 28, the U.S. sent two more warships through the Taiwan Strait, and even the French frigate Vendémiaire sailed through. On May 22, the U.S. sent the USS Preble and USNS Walter S. Diehl once again. Including the trip in July, this year U.S. warships have passed through the Taiwan Strait six times — seven including the Vendémiaire — for an average of one trip per month.
The situation could not be more obvious. A line of military security defense comprising an Indo-Pacific strategic framework and a free and democratic alliance to prevent Chinese expansion has already formed. Beijing’s military force has been apparently threatened and the possibility of deploying such military force has been lessened. Meanwhile, the dislike that Hong Kong citizens have toward “one country, two systems” highlights the wise decision the Taiwanese have made in their long-term rejection of it. It also shows that Taiwan is helping China evolve peacefully through freedom and democracy, and is a beacon for ethnic Chinese nationals all over the world.
In view of this, Taiwan’s ruling and opposition party leaders should devise a way to resolve their differences and their pointless blue-green party disputes. With the central strategy of maintaining the status quo, and by uniting international forces with the U.S. at the fore, Taiwan’s leaders should do their utmost to protect Taiwan’s hard-won democratic system and work for opportunity to export freedom, democracy and the rule of law across the strait. In the near future, people in China will be able to enjoy the freedom and happiness made possible by these universal values.
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