One-China and US-Taiwan Ties


Munir Ahmed

The recent US support to Taiwan is quite meaningful that may lead Taiwan to declare its controversial independence, flaring up the situation in the Indo-Pacific region

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb arrived in Taipei (Taiwan) on Sunday, becoming the latest US official to visit Taiwan and defy pressure from China that believes such trips shall not happen. The US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a two-day visit to Taipei earlier this month followed by another visit to Taiwan by a group of U.S. lawmakers last week.
The US official visits will further flare up the tensions between China and the US. China has already warned the US of severe consequences if it does not stay away from Taiwan, and respect the One-China Framework. China claims Taiwan as its territory despite the Taipei government’s strong objections. The US terms it a “democratically-governed” country. Historically, Taiwan has been part of Mainland China. The Nationalist Party of China’s leadership escaped to Taiwan after losing Mainland China to the Communist Party of China, which led to China’s independence.
Taiwan never claimed independence though the US and its allies term it a “democratically-governed” country. The recent US support to Taiwan is quite meaningful that may lead Taiwan to declare its controversial independence, flaring up the situation in the Indo-Pacific region.
To support the idea of Taiwan’s independence, in a Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll conducted in June 2020, 54 per cent of respondents supported de jure independence for Taiwan, 23.4 per cent preferred maintaining the status quo, 12.5 per cent favoured unification with China, and 10 per cent did not hold any particular view on the matter. China had rejected the poll terming it “fake and misleading.
Visiting US Vice President Dick Cheney said in Beijing on April 13 this year that the United States does not support “Taiwan Independence” and is against any unilateral action from each side to change the existing situation across the Taiwan Straits. However, the recent visits of the US high officials to Taipei reveal some other strategic objectives, contrary to the US Vice President’s statement.
On the other hand, China has already warned that it will “not hesitate to start a war” if Taiwan declares independence. China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe warned his US counterpart in his first ever face-to-face meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore.
China has realized that the US has deep plans to use Taiwan against China to contain its economic and geostrategic growth. India has already jumped in the US boat while the stronger countries in the Indo-Pacific are already on the US side. Located in a strategically important position, Taiwan is crucially important for the US. Perhaps, that is why the US is investing in ties with Taiwan, and pushing it against China.
US President Joe Biden, during a recent visit to Japan, appeared to break decades of US policy when, in response to a question, he said Washington would defend Taiwan militarily if China attacks it. The statement is contrary to Austin’s reaffirmation of the importance of peace and stability across the (Taiwan) Strait.
Realising the US design for the indo-pacific region, China has been carrying out war games and drills near Taiwan just after the US Housekeeper Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei. The geopolitical experts believe that Governor Eric Holcomb’s visit would further flare up the situation. It is much expected that Taiwan would take any daring step that dents the “One-China Framework”.
The Indiana governor will also be visiting South Korea after he meets with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday. He tweeted that he was energized to spend this week building new relationships, reinforcing long-time ones and strengthening key sector partnerships with Taiwan and South Korea. Though he has termed his visit to Taiwan and South Korea as an “economic development trip,” all believe that it is more than what is being shown. He is the first U.S. governor to come to Taiwan since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago.
China has yet to respond to Governor Eric Holcomb’s visit. But, China has multiple times said that Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in its relations with Washington and that it considers it an internal issue. Keeping the intensifying situation, China has launched joint military drills with Russia while China’s military drills have been continuing around Taiwan, though on a smaller scale.
Worrisome is the United States has planned to conduct new “air and maritime transits” in the Taiwan Strait in a step the White House says will reflect its response to China’s military drills in the contested strait amid rising tensions over the self-ruled island of Taiwan. High tensions in the region would affect economies in the Indo-Pacific region.