The U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year of 2022, pending Joe Biden’s signature; $7.1 billion is expected to be spent on the Pacific Deterrence Initiative against the Chinese Communist Party and to expand cooperation with Pacific allies. The bill suggests that the U.S. invite Taiwan to participate in next year’s Rim of the Pacific military exercise and evaluate and report on how to strengthen Taiwan’s asymmetric warfare capabilities.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanks the United States for its commitments to Taiwan’s security, and our government will work with the United States to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait region. However, if Taiwan were invited to participate in the military exercise, any actions on the matter without careful assessment of the risks may lead to serious negative consequences.
The Rim of the Pacific exercise led by the United States is routine, but it is also clearly targeted at the Chinese Communist Party. If the U.S. invites Taiwan to participate, it will provoke an even greater reaction from the Chinese government. As a result of the recent close interactions between Taiwan and the U.S., Taiwan scholars in China have pointed out that if the U.S. plays the Taiwan card without deliberation, it will certainly speed up Beijing’s timetable on when to “solve” the Taiwan issue.
Since the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen, cross-strait relations have been at a standstill; the number of mainland aircraft disturbing Taiwan has been increasing with each year, and The Economist in May called Taiwan the most dangerous place on earth. During the November meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping, both sides hoped to establish a “guardrail” against head-on conflict, but Xi also said that if the issue of “Taiwan independence” was provoked, forced or crossed a red line, China would take decisive measures.
The Taiwan issue is undoubtedly the issue for which the U.S. and China most need guardrails. If Taiwan and the United States go beyond the guardrails and China takes these decisive measures, it is Taiwan that will directly suffer. The proposal to invite Taiwan to participate in military exercises is superficially a friendly act to protect Taiwan, but in reality, it pushes Taiwan into the line of fire. In the absence of our own guardrails, the Taiwanese government must not ignite the fire.