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Washington will not be able to make a jar big enough for the turtle to escape: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2024-06-06 20:31
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Defense Minister Dong Jun delivers a keynote speech on China's global security vision at the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday. YONHAP NEWS AGENCY

At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on the weekend, Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun said that the People's Liberation Army is well-prepared to defeat the Taiwan island's secessionists and their patrons. "It will be as easy as catching a turtle in a jar, nothing to sweat about."

Yet that confident assertion seems to have fallen on deaf ears when it comes to its intended audience, who seem to think they can make the jar so deep that catching the turtle would be more by luck than design.

Less than five days after Dong reiterated Beijing's hard-line position on the Taiwan question in a face-to-face meeting with his US counterpart on the sidelines of the security forum, the Pentagon announced two new arms deals with the island worth a total of $300 million.

The deals, which include standard and nonstandard spare and repair parts, components, consumables and accessories for F-16 aircraft, as well as other technical and logistics support services, will be the 14th US arms sale to the island since US President Joe Biden took office in 2021.

The first of their kind since the inauguration of the radical secessionist new leader of the island's administration, Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party, on May 20, the deals are widely considered to be reassurance that he has the US' "rock-solid commitment" to defend the island.

In a recent interview with Time, Biden said he does not rule out the possibility of using military force to defend Taiwan if Beijing "unilaterally" tries to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. These remarks are in defiance of his consistent pledges to Beijing that the US has not changed its one-China policy and it does not seek to support Taiwan "independence".

That statement and the latest arms sales to Taiwan he approved, along with the visit of 27 US defense contractors to the island this week, belie the carefully worded congratulatory message to Lai from the US' top diplomat late last month, in which he tried to portray the US' ties with the island as nonofficial and economic.

The Biden administration should realize that the fundamental status quo across the Taiwan Strait is that both sides of the strait belong to one China with the central government in Beijing as its sole legitimate representative. Something recognized not only by the United Nations — the UN spokesperson recently reiterated that stance by calling Taiwan "a province" of China — but also by Washington as it is the inviolable foundation of Sino-US diplomatic relations.

If the US really does not seek to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, it should stop endorsing the secessionist-minded antics of the DPP, as an integral part of its China-containment strategy. The US should stop trying to butter both sides of the bread by saying one thing and doing another on the Taiwan question, and honor its legal commitments to uphold the one-China principle in good faith.

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