*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.
Oleg Karpovich, the vice rector of the Russian Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Academy – on how the West is using the Taiwanese question as a tool to apply pressure on Beijing.
Just recently there was a feeling that the Taiwanese question will sooner or later cease poisoning the global political agenda. The number of countries recognizing the island as an independent state has been consistently decreasing for many years. The emergence of the “one country, two systems” formula, successfully implemented in Hong Kong and Macao, outlined a sort of roadmap for resolving the crisis that appeared at the dawn of the Cold War.
Even the Kuomintang Party, which spearheaded Taiwanese separatism, reoriented to support the idea of returning Taipei home. But today’s geopolitical tensions, proliferated purposefully by external powers, can not only destroy the fruits of many years of diplomatic work but also undermine the entire system of international security.
Taiwan has been traditionally used by Western leaders as a tool to apply pressure on Beijing. When necessary, it’s used as a warning for the uncooperative Chinese authorities. We witnessed something similar in the middle of the 1990s, when a military-political maneuver, orchestrated by Washington and Taipei, ended up with a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, dedicated to hinting to the People’s Republic of China who’s the boss.
We have seen the stakes rising over the last years as well. In their time, the organizers of the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong also aimed their efforts at aggravating the situation around Taiwan; according to their plan, the expected harsh reaction of Beijing was supposed to bolster the positions of the adherents of Taiwanese independence. And, by the way, it didn’t happen as planned -– far from the entire population of the island yielded to this provocation; the positions of the Kuomintang have been strengthening lately, and the recent visit of the head of this party to continental China demonstrated once more the unnaturalness of the confrontation model imposed on the representatives of the same divided people.
However, many U.S. politicians appear to be hostages of their own alarmist rhetoric. They continue to raise the stakes, lacking any comprehensive strategy. The statements about the inevitability of an American-Chinese military conflict because of Taiwan, coming from the official representatives of the Pentagon as well, are to prepare public opinion for the aggravation of an already complex situation.
In all likelihood, the interests of the military-industrial lobby, which thinks not so much about the potential risks as about an opportunity to get unlimited revenues thanks to the sparking of a new Cold War in Asia, stand behind these maneuvers. By some of Washington’s powerful, the pressure on China is viewed as a part of the Russia deterrence campaign -– the West is telling Beijing that it can tame its Taiwanese subordinates if the People’s Republic of China will abandon its partnership with Moscow.
But these are mere empty hopes and pipe dreams. As a recent visit of the Chinese Minister of Defense to the Russian capital showed us, our countries are adamant in their wish to develop long-lasting military and political cooperation. Sooner or later the U.S. and its allies will have to abandon their geopolitical games and accept the harsh reality. The global political climate has irrevocably changed, as compared to the 1990s, and China has full right — and that’s what it’ll do -– to fight for restoring its territorial integrity.
Instead of rocking the boat, the West should contemplate the consequences of its reckless actions and transition to a substantive dialogue with Beijing and Moscow about the future of the security system in Asia. Reducing the aggregated tension, the surge of which is capable of leading to irreversible consequences, is in the interests of all parties.
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