Letters & Opinion

No Turning Back in the China-US Showdown Over Taiwan – Part 5

A Bull in China’s Shop?

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

The US-China battle-lines are drawn deeper this weekend in the Taiwan sands — and never mind the continuing efforts to play this simmering-hot crisis as one only involving Beijing, Washington and Taipei, since the ill-advised visit to the island on August 3 US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (despite Beijing’s grave warnings that this would be a no-go red line), the situation has now long developed into one in which nuclear-type Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) are on the war tables in Situation Rooms.

President Biden, ahead of US midterm elections, has again promised to send US troops to fight China for Taiwan – and yet again, the US State Department and the Pentagon have both had to come out and say he didn’t mean what he said; and there was ‘no change’ in Washington’s adherence to the ‘One China Policy’, under which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the only China recognized by the United Nations (UN) since 1971, today recognized by 188 nations, including the USA.

The human and health, environmental and other deadly costs that will come as 21st Century collateral damage from any armed clash between US and China armed forces are simply undeniable, inestimable and unthinkable, but all very real.

But there’s no sign that Taipei is willing to accept that pursuit of its local agenda on the global stage is forcing two of the world’s most and best-armed nations to stare-down each other in a way that leaves wide-open possibilities for miscalculations and mistakes, with the obvious dire and deadly consequences for the rest of the world.

Japanese continue remembering and feeling the long-lasting effects of the two ‘Atom Bombs’ the US dropped 77 years ago on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II – at the everlasting cost of thousands dead and millions harmed.

Imagine then, the mass destruction and global costs of either side’s nuclear button being pressed, by whoever, for whatever reason…

The mere thought of bringing the world anywhere near to such a calamity is unthinkable, which is why many who support Taiwan cannot understand – or accept – why Taipei would want to encourage even risking it.

But with mid-term elections less than a month away in the US; similar mid-term local government elections also around the corner in Taiwan and the upcoming National People’s Congress of China’s Community Party (CPC) also looming in the background, Beijing’s foes are going all-out to ruffle feathers for General Secretary Xi Jinping’s global image ahead of securing an unprecedented third term.

With three elections in the air and hot issues on the table for Humankind and the international community, this is a time when Taipei would most likely be better-off sparing the world of such dangerous possibilities as mass destruction through nuclear weapons by talking peace and looking to cool-down tensions by asking Washington to step back from delivering weapons in the current situation here, like with the Pelosi visit, Beijing is again insisting this is one more provocation it will not allow.

But not a word sounding like that from Taipei.

Instead, like wanting to seem or sound like a proverbial ‘bull in a China shop’, Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu issued another hawkish statement last week (September 10, 2022), consistent with his six-year record since the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) won the 2016 Presidential elections.

Wu attacking the UN has been a more-recent development, leaving analysts concluding Taiwan feels sufficiently emboldened by promises of US military support to ‘talk down’ to UN member-states — even as an outsider wanting in…

Accusing the UN of ‘excluding 23.5 million resilient Taiwanese people’ from being represented at the UN, Wu also accused it of ‘Acquiescing to China’s wrongful claims over Taiwan…’ and thereby ‘defeating the very purpose of the UN’.

The entire China-US standoff over Taiwan was unnecessary and avoidable, but the US continues to behave as if it believes it can use the current situation to somehow stem or halt China’s advances on the global stage.

China has demonstrated it has the military, scientific and technological, economic and financial superiority above most other nations and its armed forces (army, navy and air force) overall capacity to successfully engage US and other forces.

The US not only has a military presence in Taiwan but also recently doubled its size; and Taiwan’s recent military manoeuvres were mainly with American weapons.

Wu is the first of Taiwan’s chief diplomats to say seemingly turn diplomacy into an art of war, him repeatedly saying Taiwan is prepared to go to war in the name of defending a national sovereignty it does not have.

As things stand now, there’s no way Taiwan can stop China from occupying the island militarily, even with US-backing, so why place Taiwanese and populations of neighbouring countries at a risk of nuclear catastrophe that will dwarf Hiroshima and Nagasaki in all ways?

Taiwan will again expect it’s 14 remaining allies at the UN to include support for its independence and access to UN bodies in their contributions during the 77th UN General Assembly — happening now.

But how much support can it get from any of the other 188 UN member-states that support China when its highest-ranking diplomat decided to attack the UN System itself and accuse it of being under Beijing’s control?

What’s needed right now is not a bull in China’s shop, but a sober assessment of the sheer cost of continuing the conflict by slaughtering the lamb of peace, instead of sheathing swords and breaking bread at the table.

And since it’s all over and all about Taiwan, Taipei is in the best position to climb-down from its high ground and start cooling-down the tensions by first toning-down its contribution to the war rhetoric and stop fanning the flames of war by arming itself for a military conflict with China that it simply cannot win – alone, or with help, at whatever cost.

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