As President Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping ostensibly agree to abide by the Taiwan agreement, the Chinese Communist Party is warning that the militaries currently swarming Taiwan are “teetering on the edge of a face-off.”
Tensions are ratcheting up as China’s People’s Liberation Army planes violated Taiwan’s airspace 149 times over the past week — setting a record — including 56 flights on Monday, and the US has stepped up naval operations with allies in the South China Sea, a challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims over the waterway.
The State Department called the flights “risky” and “destabilizing” on Sunday and urged China, which believes the island is a rogue province and part of its territory, to stop its “provocative military activity.”
Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said Wednesday the situation “is the most severe in the 40 years since I’ve enlisted” and predicted China will be able to mount an invasion in four years.
“By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration,” he said.
But Biden insisted to reporters on Tuesday that he and Xi have agreed to comply with the Taiwan agreement.
“We agree we will abide by the Taiwan agreement. That’s where we are. And we made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement,” the president said when asked about Chinese-Taiwanese relations.
The conversation Biden referred to is apparently the 90-minute call he had with Xi on Sept. 9, in which they reiterated the need for peace and stability in the region and discussed ensuring that competition between the two countries “does not veer into conflict,” the White House readout said.
The Taiwan agreement, passed by Congress in 1979, undergirds US diplomatic ties to Taiwan but takes no position on its sovereignty.
It lays out the need for a cultural and commercial relationship between the two countries, but also recognizes that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.
The act also requires the US to come to Taiwan’s defense if it is attacked.
But despite Biden’s assurances, China seems to have taken a different tack, warning the US against interfering in its relationship with Taiwan and that “war may be triggered at any time,” in an article in the CCP mouthpiece Global Times.
“The strategic collusion between the US and Japan and the DPP authorities is becoming more audacious, and the situation across the Taiwan Straits has almost lost any room for maneuver teetering on the edge of a face-off, creating a sense of urgency that the war may be triggered at any time,” the article said, referring to the Democratic Progressive Party, which supports an independent Taiwan.
“The secessionist forces on the island will never be allowed to secede Taiwan from China under whatever names or by whatever means, and, the island will not be allowed to act as an outpost of the US’ strategic containment against China,” the article said.
Xi ordered the People’s Liberation Army to increase its presence near Taiwan as the US and its allies conduct naval exercises, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said it would be “catastrophic” if China took Taiwan by force.
“As countries increasingly recognize the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses, they should understand the value of working with Taiwan,” she wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine on Tuesday.
“If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system. It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy,” she said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he hoped the “matter is resolved peacefully” but is preparing for other outcomes.
“Additionally, instead of simply monitoring the situation, we hope to weigh the various possible scenarios that may arise to consider what options we have, as well as the preparations we must make,” Motegi said.
Japan is part of the naval contingent conducting operations in the area along with the US, Britain, Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand to show their commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
On Wednesday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Zurich, Switzerland.
With Post wires