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Tsai's transit through US a blatant provocation

By Li Zhenguang | | Updated: 2023-03-30 11:09
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Tsai Ing-wen makes a speech before her departure to New York to start her trip to Guatemala and Belize at Taoyuan International Airport in Taoyuan, Taiwan March 29, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen started her "journey of democratic partners and shared prosperity" to Central America on Wednesday during which she will visit Guatemala and Belize. However, as with past visits by Taiwan leaders to Central American countries, the focus is not on the countries she will visit but on her transit through the United States and her political maneuverings with US politicians.

The political posturing by Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party in collusion with some US politicians carries high political risk, particularly given the volatile state of Sino-US relations and the high tensions across the Taiwan Straits.

Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington against making such stopover arrangements for Taiwan officials and has been closely monitoring Tsai's transit through the US, given its potential for political turbulence and further worsening Sino-US ties and heightening cross-Straits tensions.

While the US government has termed Tsai's transit as a "non-official, personal trip", claiming that such visits by Taiwan officials are not uncommon, the fact that Tsai has scheduled meetings with high-level US officials, including House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, indicates the damage the US' arrangement can cause to both Sino-US ties and cross-Straits relations.

Of course, the US administration understands Beijing's concerns about the political risks of Tsai transiting through the US. While previous Taiwan leaders have transited through the US and met with US officials and Congress members as the White House said, the level of US officials involved in Tsai's visit, particularly the potential meeting with the House speaker, is a gross violation of the one-China principle and unacceptable to China.

There is no doubt the Chinese government will take necessary measures in response to the US' provocative move, in order to better safeguard its sovereignty and national interests.

The cross-Straits situation and the state of Sino-US relations are not optimistic. Tsai's transit through the US is a reckless act in disregard of the one-China principle and bound to trigger further turbulence in Sino-US relations and cross-Straits ties.

The situation across the Straits is already fragile and cannot withstand further turmoil. The vast majority of people on both sides of the Straits simply desire peace and stability; they want exchanges and integration between the two sides of the Straits.

However, as a saying goes, the tree wants to be still but the wind does not stop. Like a violent gust of wind which, instead of calming down, is turning into a cyclone, some US politicians have been using the "Taiwan card" to shake the tree that is China.

Tsai's transit through the US before her term ends next year, apparently, is also meant to seek political breakthroughs. And with the infighting within the ruling DPP and DPP leader Lai Ching-te's eagerness to seize power, Tsai wants to use her political maneuvering in the US to consolidate her position as the island's leader and prevent any political setbacks. These complex political, selfish motives make Tsai's transit through the US even more complicated.

The refusal of Tsai and the DPP to recognize the 1992 Consensus has heightened tensions and caused huge turbulence across the Straits. And mainly because of this, Taiwan cannot participate in the activities of international organizations such as the World Health Organization and has been losing its "diplomatic allies".

This shows that if cross-Straits relations are good, Taiwan will have more room to participate in the activities of international organizations. But if the Tsai administration tries to suck up to the US to promote its separatist agenda, it will suffer heavy losses in every aspect.

Today, Beijing has both the determination and capability to prevent "Taiwan independence", thwart the evil designs of separatists and external forces, and better safeguard the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Any reckless move toward seeking "Taiwan independence" by the island authorities will be met with strong countermeasures.

As for Tsai transiting through the US, if she doesn't stop her provocative moves and continues to play with fire, she may end up burning herself.

The author is deputy director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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