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US should stop turning Taiwan into 'most dangerous place'

By Tang Yonghong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-05-19 10:34
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Chinese and US flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, Jan 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese military expressed strong opposition on Wednesday morning, as the US guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed through Taiwan Straits on Tuesday.

Some Western politicians and media outlets, especially those in the United States, have been speculating whether a military conflict will break out across the Taiwan Straits. For example, in an article published earlier this month, Economist describes Taiwan as "the most dangerous place on earth".

However, it's the US' repeated so-called routine actions that have sent the wrong signals to the island and encouraged the pro-independence forces to seek bolder moves to provoke the mainland. It's the US that is turning Taiwan into the "most dangerous place".

This strategic ambiguity seems growingly hard to sustain for the US. But it should realize that it may no longer be able to deter the mainland from unifying China.

In March, Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, told the US Congress that he was worried that the mainland would attack Taiwan in the next six years. Davidson made the remarks to create an imaginary enemy and exaggerate the threat it poses to the US and the region, so he could seek a bigger military budget as well as persuade Taiwan to buy more weapons from the US and interfere in cross-Straits affairs.

Some Western countries and institutions always blame Beijing for any deterioration in cross-Straits relations, and hype up news about the mainland sending warships and planes cross the middle line of the Straits but remain silent on why it did so.

The mainland has made its stance clear that peaceful reunification is a priority so long as the Taiwan authorities acknowledge the one-China principle and do not try to split the island from the motherland. It is an established international practice to take all necessary measures, including using military power, to prevent separatists from splitting a country or undermining its core interests such as sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Cross-Straits ties have deteriorated, against Beijing's wishes, because of the collusion between Taiwan secessionists and foreign anti-China forces, which have stirred up trouble across the Straits in a bid to change the status quo and curb the mainland's rise, making Taiwan "the most dangerous place on earth".

The mainland's unprecedented development over the past more than four decades has greatly narrowed its gap with the US in terms of GDP and global influence. On the other hand, Washington, in its desperation to maintain its hegemony worldwide, believes its previous policy toward Beijing — peaceful evolution strategy — has proved a failure and therefore it is now focusing on strategic competition to contain the mainland's rise.

Ever since Donald Trump assumed the US presidency in 2017, Washington has been ramping up efforts to contain the mainland's rise by, among other things, playing the "Taiwan card" more frequently including selling more advanced weapons and sending higher-level officials to the island, and sailing US aircraft carriers very close to the island in a display of military muscles. Such acts pose a serious threat to peace and stability across the Straits and have emboldened the island's separatists to more aggressively seek "Taiwan independence".

The island's ruling Democratic Progressive Party, too, has been pushing its "Taiwan independence" agenda since assuming power in 2016 by refusing to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China, and serving as a US pawn against the mainland in exchange for US support.

There is only one China, so there is no so-called middle line of the Straits. The PLA navy is fully obliged to safeguard the nation's core interests, so it is entitled to send aircrafts near the island, even more frequently.

Beijing is determined to defend the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity at all costs. If the US keeps playing the "Taiwan card" and the DPP intensifies its activities to seek "independence", the mainland will take appropriate countermeasures. And if the Taiwan authorities cross the bottom line, Beijing will be forced to take necessary strong actions to prevent the division of the country.

The author is deputy director of the Taiwan Research Center at Xiamen University.

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

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