Chinese concerns rise over US policy shift on Taiwan

  • Beijing’s diplomatic chief Yang Jiechi warns US national security adviser Jake Sullivan against ‘using Taiwan to contain China’
  • Washington appears to be moving away from its policy of strategic ambiguity following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chinese analysts say

Chinese diplomatic observers have expressed concern that the United States is shifting its policy on Taiwan as Beijing again warned that the issue was undermining the relationship between the two sides.

China‘s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan held their third meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

Yang warned Sullivan that there would be an “overturning effect” if the Taiwan problem was not handled properly, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

“This risk will increase if the US continues its approach of ‘using Taiwan to contain China’ and Taiwan’s adoption of ‘relying on the US for independence’,” Yang said.

According to a statement issued by Beijing, Yang criticised the US for trying to contain and suppress China, saying it “puts China-US relations into a very difficult situation”.

The two sides also discussed issues including North Korea and Ukraine, according to statements issued after the meeting.

Sullivan underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to manage competition between the two countries, according to the US side.

The statement also said Sullivan “reiterated concerns that the United States has raised repeatedly with China with respect to certain kinds of assistance to Russia” in Ukraine – an accusation Beijing has denied.

The warning by Yang came just a day after Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore that Beijing will fight “at all costs” against any efforts to make Taiwan independent.

Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said Washington’s long-held policy of strategic ambiguity over Taiwan – where the US leaves it uncertain whether it would intervene militarily to protect the island – was obviously being eroded.

Shi noted US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin had told the Shangri-La forum that the US would maintain the capacity to resist any use of force that jeopardised the security of the Taiwanese people, saying: “It cannot be seen as insignificant. A new formal policy is perhaps emerging.”

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have continued to rise in recent months, with the People’s Liberation Army holding three drills in the area following a visit by US senators and President Joe Biden’s comments last month that the US would intervene militarily if mainland China tried to take the island by force.

Wu Xinbo, director of the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said US policy towards Taiwan had “seriously regressed” since 1972 when Washington first reached out to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing.

“It should be said that in the past year, we have seen the Biden administration stray further in its policy towards Taiwan … the US policy towards Taiwan has taken the most serious setback since 1972,” Wu said.

“Since the beginning of this year, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has, in a sense, spurred the US into adjusting its policy towards Taiwan … Biden didn’t stop [Vladimir] Putin, now he wants to stop the mainland’s use of force against Taiwan.”

Wu also said the US wanted to work with China over issues such as North Korea, following Beijing’s decision to join Russia in vetoing further United Nations sanctions last month.

But Wu questioned Washington’s “sincerity” in handling relations with Beijing and expressed doubt at the prospect of Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting any time soon.

“Even if there will be a meeting, it is doubtful whether it can improve relations,” he said.

Author: Amber Wang, SCMP

You might also like