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Tsai's efforts to deepen US ties will fail

By Zhu Songling | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-16 07:15
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Cross-Straits relations have deteriorated further this year, squarely because of the Tsai Ing-wen administration's continued refusal to accept the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China, and for backing the wrong horse in the US presidential election, because incumbent President Donald Trump is on his way out.

And despite its desperate attempts to further deepen relations with the incoming Joe Biden administration, the Tsai administration, given president-elect Biden's remarks, may end up getting less support from the US in the future.

To begin with, Biden has made it clear that his administration will not sign any new trade agreement with any country or region before reviving the industrial and education sectors at home. Biden's statement is enough to dash any hopes that Tsai had of deepening trade ties with Washington.

During the US presidential campaign, the Tsai authorities, to boost Trump's chances of being re-elected in order to secure a potential trade agreement with and more support from Washington, agreed to open up the island's market wider to the US from 2021 at the cost of compromising Taiwan residents' health by importing pork with ractopamine, a feed additive to promote leanness and increase food conversion efficiency in livestock.

But Biden's reluctance to sign any new trade deal in the near future has made many on the island angry with Tsai, because they say she agreed to import pork with ractopamine from the US in exchange for a trade pact. It also shows that the policies of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party are harmful to the island and its residents.

Moreover, Biden's Asia-Pacific policy, including his China policy and remarks on cross-Straits relations, indicates that he may take an ambiguous stance on the Taiwan question rather than following the agenda of Trump. Which has dashed Tsai's hope of reaping benefits from the deteriorating Beijing-Washington relationship.

Despite the structural contradictions between Beijing and Washington, Biden's policy toward China may be different from Trump's, and he is more likely to view China as a strategic competitor rather than a strategic foe. Biden has indicated that instead of engaging in an ideological conflict with China, his administration will compete with it in fields such as technologies, trade and military while collaborating with it in areas like climate change, global public health, and nuclear non-proliferation.

Competition with collaboration and cooperation should become the main theme of Sino-US relations during the Biden administration, although the US is likely to continue upholding the banner of democracy by playing the "Taiwan card".

Being a Democrat, Biden is not expected to cross the bottom line of Sino-US diplomatic relations and take actions that will further heighten cross-Straits tensions. And by so doing, he could, unwittingly, expose the Tsai authorities' ploys to increase cross-Straits tensions by promoting pro-independence policies.

Furthermore, unlike Trump, Biden is not expected to mollycoddle the Tsai authorities. The biggest blows the Trump administration dealt to Beijing-Washington relations in the past almost four years are sending more senior officials and frequently selling arms to the island, and upgrading the island's status as a "diplomatic" ally.

This approach of the incumbent US administration boosted the confidence of Taiwan separatists, prompting them to stir up more trouble across the Straits and try the Chinese mainland patience. Judging by Biden's remarks on cross-Straits relations, it is likely that the mainland and the US will deal with the Taiwan question under the framework of overall Sino-US ties.

So in the future, the Taiwan secessionists cannot depend on US support to oppose the one-China principle. And despite the incumbent administration trying to set traps for the incoming administration, Biden is not likely to bite the bait.

Also, the differences in the personal styles and political philosophies of Trump and Biden, and the differences in the China policy of the Democratic and Republican parties suggest Sino-US relations in the future will be one of competition and cooperation-and Tsai's efforts to provoke a conflict between Beijing and Washington in the hope of benefiting from it are doomed to failure.

China and the US share many common interests and have many reasons to deepen cooperation in a host of areas. So we hope Sino-US tensions will ease under Biden's presidency, and the Tsai administration's dirty tricks to fan trouble across the Straits will lie fully exposed.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

The author is a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University.

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