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Pernicious collusion seeks to erase Beijing's redline on Taiwan question: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2024-06-05 19:49
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The Taipei 101 skyscraper commands the urban landscape in Taipei, Taiwan. [Photo/Xinhua]

The so-called Taiwan-US Defense Industry Forum, being held on Thursday, is positioned as being unofficial. Ostensibly, it is organized by the Taipei-based "Taiwan Defense Industry Development Association" and the so-called US-Taiwan Business Council. While the members of the US delegation participating in the forum are supposedly all representatives of 27 US defense contractors, accompanied by a retired US Marine Corps officer. But even taking that at face value, the intent and security consequences are such that it cannot be viewed as business as usual for the US arms merchants.

It might be tempting to those unwilling to face squarely the intent to view the forum as merely a continuation of what was already in place under the preceding Tsai Ing-wen authorities of the same ruling Democratic Progressive Party on the Chinese island — an impression reinforced by the participating US defense contractors being basically the same group that had presented themselves at last year's event, along with Steven Rudder, the commanding general of the US Marine Corps Pacific until September 2022.

But that would be to ignore the changed context in which the event is taking place. As some have pointed out, it is the first come-and-sell by the major US arms suppliers, including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, since Taiwan inaugurated another DPP leader, who is a "more dangerous" radical separatist than his predecessor.

The visiting US delegation is scheduled to meet with the island's independence-minded new leader, Lai Ching-te, and his deputy, Hsiao Bi-khim and other senior local officials, to discuss the island's procurement requirements for warships and warplanes, advanced defense technologies and drones.

Beijing has made repeated, very serious representations with Washington, urging the latter to stop "sending wrong signals" to the DPP authorities on Taiwan. But in actual fact, these have stopped being just "signals". They are calculated moves whose potential to blow apart the status quo of the Taiwan Strait should not be taken lightly. The dangerous real-world impact of the US giving too much cause-support to the DPP's agenda-driven weapons buying is palpable. It is no longer an ignorable long shot for those on the island gambling that they can buy enough time to stamp their design for the island on global perceptions.

At the just-concluded Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China's Defense Minister Dong Jun made it clear, beyond any room for misunderstanding, that Beijing could not, and will not tolerate the island edging toward independence. His words may have sounded harsh or hyperbolic to some ears. But they reflect Beijing's resolve to not let the Lai authorities push the envelope on the island's status with the increasingly overt support from "external forces".

Beijing has already clearly established its "redline" on the Taiwan question. Unfortunately, the US administration seems intent on skirting around it, claiming that it still honors the commitments the US has made to not act in a way that would cross that redline. Yet it requires a tremendous stretch of the imagination to believe that the defense forum qualifies as "unofficial" or upholds the one-China principle in its true form. As a result of the pernicious collusion of Taipei and Washington, Beijing has had to reiterate in no uncertain terms that it cannot renounce the use of force in the face of the threat to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

US President Joe Biden made clear the provocative intentions of his administration's encouragement of the separatists on the island in an interview with Time on Tuesday, in which he said he does not rule out the possibility of US military intervention in the event of a cross-Strait conflict. But no pressure or threat can shake the Chinese government and people's strong determination, firm will and strong ability to defend the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

The dangerous potential of the incremental approach Washington and Taipei seem to have embraced lies precisely in such seemingly innocuous moves as Thursday's defense forum.

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