Taiwan May Become a Pawn in US-China Competition

In the Group of Seven post-summit statement the other day, a chapter on stability across the Taiwan Strait was included for the first time in history. Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party government was ecstatic, and the intention of the United States to join hands with its allies on the eve of the centennial of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party was obvious. As a matter of fact, in his July 1 speech, Chinese Communist Party President Xi Jinping mentioned the Taiwan issue, saying critically that foreign forces would “end up badly battered” if they tried to bully China. The new-Cold-War situation between the United States and China is taking shape, and Taiwan will become a pawn between the two powers.

Since the end of the Cold War, the so-called Taiwan issue between the U.S., China and Taiwan has generally shifted along with the relationship between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party. This time, under the strong operation of the Joe Biden administration, the Taiwan Strait has suddenly been elevated to a structural issue. Under such circumstances, tensions across the Taiwan Strait are inevitable. In the medium to long term, the situation in the Taiwan Strait is expected to deteriorate. Of course, then, will the economic development of Taiwan not be greatly affected?

Does Taiwan really wish to become a part of this structural tension? Has the DPP administration considered the cost of doing so? Once we enter into the structural tenseness of the front lines, Taiwan’s autonomy will decrease even further; unless there is a major conflict and a significant price to pay, there will be no turning back.

The Biden administration is trying to avoid criticism from Congress (especially the Republican Party) that it is “soft on China” and, at the same time, wants to show support for Taiwan against the Chinese Communist Party. But such support is a mistake.

In the medium to long term, the Biden administration’s move is a major detriment to peace and stability in the region. It will most certainly affect the two pillars of U.S. stability in the Taiwan Strait: strategic reassurance and deterrence.

First, a deterrent must be reasonable in order to have its intended effect; once you go beyond the scope of reasonable conditions, the deterrent no longer has any meaning. Since the DPP came to power, it has been walking a path of separation, and has been challenging the bottom line of the Chinese Communist Party. Under such circumstances, any international organization or country that continues to demand stability in the Taiwan Strait by means of deterrence will certainly be perceived by Beijing as spawning and supporting Taiwan’s independence. The question of whether or not the Chinese Communist Party will use force will no longer be the simple question of whether or not the cost of doing so is reasonable.

Secondly, the U.S. strategic reassurance in the Taiwan Strait has always been based on the one-China policy of not supporting Taiwan independence, not supporting “two Chinas,” and not supporting “one China, one Taiwan.” However, Biden has gone out of his way to raise the issue of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait in the G-7 communiqué, and doing so is obviously a tacit drift toward the “one China, one Taiwan” stance. What we should now be concerned about is whether Beijing will take strong action.

In truth, before and after Xi’s July 1 speech on cross-strait issues, the U.S. had already given some thoughts to the issue, one of which was to reestablish the balance of strategic reassurance and deterrence with the Chinese Communist Party. Perhaps the recent talk of the Group of 20 summit in October involving a meeting between Biden and Xi will be more or less related to this matter.

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