US will receive much tougher response if follows Lithuania’s step to provoke China on Taiwan question
By Yang Sheng and Zhang Changyue
On the same day when the top leaders of China and the US held a phone conversation, which brings some hopes for the recovery of the most important bilateral ties of the world, the Taiwan s separatist authorities sent two “senior officials” for sensitive and secret talks with US officials to push Washington to rename the island’s representative office in Washington with the word “Taiwan” – a serious move to provoke the one-China principle and to encourage Taiwan secessionism.
In the Friday phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the request of the US side, which desperately wants to change the intense situation of China-US ties but has been reluctant to take concrete actions to get the ties back on track, US president Joe Biden said that the US side has no intention to change the one-China policy, according to the statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the call.
Chinese mainland experts said if the report that the Biden administration is considering further encouraging the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) authorities to pursue secession is true, this shows that Washington’s policy on China is contradictory and Biden’s words do not match his deeds. This could derail the effort to improve China-US ties and make the matter even worse.
The separatist DPP authorities are trying to sabotage the possibility of a recovery in China-US ties by instigating troubles and playing tricks with some US politicians, they noted, adding that if the US follows Lithuania in provoking China’s sovereignty, China’s retaliation could be much tougher, otherwise no one would respect the one-China principle anymore.
If the US renames the island’s representative office in Washington, recalling the Chinese ambassador to the US would be the most basic response, said the experts. There would be more retaliations in the Taiwan Straits as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will take more direct actions to deter Taiwan secessionism. Mainland analysts warned that the more tricks the DPP authorities play with US officials, the faster they will see the realization of China’s national reunification.
According to a Financial Times report, multiple people briefed on internal US discussions said Washington is “seriously considering” a request from the Taiwan DPP authorities to change the name of its office in the US capital from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to “Taiwan Representative Office.”
The request mirrors the one of Lithuania, which proposed the same move that seriously challenged China’s sovereignty and core interests and caused a significant setback to China-Lithuania ties, for which the Baltic country has paid a huge price.
Kurt Campbell, White House Asia adviser, has backed the change, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, the FT reported. One said the request had wide support inside the National Security Council and from state department Asia officials. A final decision has not been made and would require Biden to sign an executive order, said people briefed on the matter. The Biden administration has yet to make a clear response or formal confirmation of the report.
Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that this is a very common trick frequently used by the US government while it bargains with China – to say something nice at a meeting or on the phone to move on the conversation, but do something bad under the table to increase pressure.
“The US media said lower-level officials in the Biden administration are complaining that Chinese officials don’t like to talk to them, so these people might try something harsh to force the Chinese side to take note of them. This is a very unwise approach,” Lü said.
The consequences would be extremely serious, because it goes against the one-China principle and will shake the political foundations of China-US diplomatic ties. It is as serious as inviting Taiwan’s regional leader to participate in the “Summit for Democracy,” so China would not just recall the ambassador, but PLA fighter jets will likely fly over the island’s airspace and take more direct actions to deal with the US provocations in changing the status quo, Lü noted.
Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the if the FT’s report is real, it shows that “Biden’s promise to get US-China relations back on track is questionable and hypocritical.”
“Or it proves that Biden is a weak president that failed to exert effective control among different departments in his government. The anti-China hard-liners and the pragmatic officials who want to ease tensions and seek cooperation with China are competing for influence and power, and Biden is unable to unify them,” Li said.
A phone call from the US President is not enough to fix the ties, and China cares more about deeds than words, Li said. He stressed that “unfortunately, the deeds of the Biden administration so far are fraudulent, irresponsible and destructive.”
Lü said that no matter whether the Biden administration is attempting to balance between the mainland and Taiwan, or maybe some lower-level officials are acting without Biden’s permission, if the US allows TECRO to be renamed, China will activate tough and strict retaliations. The US will strangle the hope of bringing ties with China back on track by making a very unwise and shortsighted mistake, he said.
The Taiwan separatist DPP authorities are a source of constant tensions between China and the US. According to the FT, one person involved with the request to change the name of Taiwan’s office in Washington said the DPP authorities discussed the issue with the US at the end of the Trump administration but made a formal request to the Biden administration in March. A senior “official” in the DPP authorities told the FT that the authorities had been urging the change for some time.
The FT report also said that “Multiple people briefed on internal US discussions said Washington was seriously considering a request from Taiwan to change the name.”
“But who are the ‘multiple people briefed’ on internal US discussions? Are they the White House officials or the third-party brokers hired by the DPP authorities? Obviously, it was the Taiwan authorities, not the White House, that announced the so-called ‘renaming consideration’ to the media,” said Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University.
The “officials” of the DPP authorities might be happy about what they did and trumpet the impact they brought to China-US relations, but they are too arrogant and ignorant, Shen noted, stressing that the so-called “Special Channel” that the DPP uses for communication with US officials cannot even enter Washington, DC.
“Who will benefit from the renaming? Not the Biden administration, because this goes against its intention to fix China-US ties and will instead bring more tension, and this has nothing to do with Biden’s priorities in handling internal affairs. The DPP authorities will benefit, because it could use the tensions to hype secessionism and to cheat voters on the island. So the ‘sources’ who released the information to the media are the ones who are trying to bring difficulties to the recovery of China-US ties,” Shen noted.
Taiwan’s secessionists should understand that they will be the ones abandoned by the US immediately once the Chinese mainland launches an operation to solve the Taiwan question, and the more tricks they play to make trouble, the sooner they will see their doomsday and the reunification of the country, said the mainland’s experts.