Pacific Dialogue
The thick red line
By Liang Xiao  ·  2022-04-18  ·   Source: NO.16 APRIL 21, 2022
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, warns that "Taiwan independence" would lead to a loss of peace and plunge the region into peril (XINHUA)

April 7, news flash: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and second in line for the presidency, said Taiwan would be added to her Asian journey destinations. Hours later, her Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill tweeted Pelosi had tested positive for COVID-19 and would be quarantined; her trip to Asia had been postponed. After four days, on April 11, Pelosi stated her nucleic acid test had turned negative, yet no explanation or clarification was provided for the suspended visit.

China said Pelosi's plan to visit Taiwan had to be canceled, not postponed. Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on April 7 if Pelosi, a political leader of the United States, were to knowingly visit Taiwan, this would constitute a malicious provocation against China's sovereignty and gross interference in China's internal affairs, sending an extremely dangerous political signal to the outside world.

Looking back on how this "event" unfolded, one might spot a textbook tentative diplomatic move. From beginning to end, the U.S. in no shape or form directly released any official information on Pelosi's "planned" Taiwan trip. The news was first reported by Japanese media, then got hyped by outlets in Taiwan, and soon thereafter became the topic of international conversation.

The one-China principle is the political foundation of Sino-American relations. According to the Sino-U.S. communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations, the U.S. "recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States maintain only cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan." It also states the U.S. Government acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. Congress is the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government, so if the No.3 in American politics were to visit Taiwan, this would constitute one of America's most serious political provocations against China in the past 25 years.

Since taking office, President Joe Biden and his senior officials have repeatedly assured the Chinese side that the U.S. does not seek a new cold war with China; it does not aim to change China's system; the revitalization of its alliances does not target China; the U.S. does not support "Taiwan independence;" and it has no intention to have a conflict or confrontation with China. During his video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 18,

President Biden reaffirmed the abovementioned policy.

Yet in reality, the U.S. has practically been intensifying its political and military ties with "pro-independence" elements in Taiwan, seeking to strengthen the island's role as a pawn to contain China. Last June, a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane carrying three federal senators landed at Taipei's Songshan Airport in the name of transporting COVID-19 vaccines and anti-epidemic supplies. It was a blatant violation of the one-China principle.

The purpose of Pelosi's planned Taiwan visit seems to be a similar attempt, a test of how to best play the "Taiwan card," seen by the U.S. as the trump card to force China into showing its hand. But no matter what tricks may be up the American sleeve still, China has drawn a thick red line and made it crystal clear that the Taiwan question concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Concessions are not in the cards.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

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