Tensions between the U.S. and China have been growing for years as a result of China’s aggressive military moves in the East China Sea. In response, the U.S. has made a point of drawing closer to Taiwan, angering Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of China.
Recently, President Xi Jinping addressed Red Army troops at a military base near Guandong. The official Chinese news agency made a point of quoting him extensively, which is unusual. Also unusual was the threatening tone of Xi’s speech.
Chinese troops should “put all [their] minds and energy on preparing for war,” President Xi Jinping said Tuesday during a visit to a Guandong military base.
In his visit, Xi said troops must “maintain a state of high alert” and remain “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable,” according to state news agency Xinhua, as reported by CNN.
The Chinese are not prone to making threatening statements of any kind. They are usually more elliptical in their threats and like to avoid words like “war.”
But the U.S. is about to up the stakes by selling Taiwan some of our most advanced weapons systems, including the devastating High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Any effort to improve Taiwan’s defenses is seen as an insult to the Chinese Communists who have been threatening to invade the tiny island for more than 70 years.
In a stern response from Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called on Washington to “immediately cancel any arms sales plans to Taiwan” and cut all “US-Taiwan military ties.”
Even though Taiwan has never been controlled by China’s ruling Communist Party, authorities in Beijing insist the democratic, self-governing island is an integral part of their territory, with Xi himself refusing to rule out military force to capture it if necessary.
China sees Taiwan as unfinished business and its growing military power is a direct threat to the island. In 2017, the Chinese launched their very first aircraft carrier, designed and built by the Chinese government. Recently they have been carrying out provocative exercises near the border with Taiwan.
The Communist Chinese are dead serious about taking the island by force. The only things holding them back are U.S. security pledges.
It’s an open question whether a Democratic president, House, and Senate would maintain our close relations with Taiwan and keep Communist China at bay. Barack Obama took a decidedly cool approach to U.S.-Taiwanese relations and there are some Democrats who have gone on record saying that protecting Taiwan isn’t worth risking war with China. That kind of talk is music to Beijing’s ears. They would prefer that Washington abandon Taiwan and the island’s leadership, realizing they had no hope of winning a war, striking a deal with the mainland.
Biden wouldn’t “abandon” Taiwan but the Communists would be more comfortable with him as president.
Donald Trump has been called the most “pro-Taiwan president in history.” He has thumbed his nose at the Communists by openly embracing Taiwan’s independent status. High-level officials in the American government, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar, have visited the island and pledged U.S. support.
What this adds up to is that Taiwan is safe for now. But conflict continues to be a possibility in the East China Sea as our allies remain under threat from the growing Chinese military presence in the region. Xi’s admonition to the troops to prepare for war is no empty threat. The Chinese are going for it and won’t let anyone — including the U.S. — stand in its way.