Beijing has issued an ominous warning to Taiwan over a pending US law that would strengthen ties between Washington and the island nation, with Chinese state media even suggesting it could lead to an open conflict.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act was a direct affront to Beijing’s ‘One China’ principle, which does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state and calls for eventual unification with the mainland.
“We also sternly warn Taiwan: do not rely on foreigners to build yourselves up, or it will only draw the fire upon you,” the government bureau said in a short statement.
The US legislation, which only needs President Donald Trump’s signature to become law, will allow US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts, permit top Taiwanese officials to visit the US and meet US officials, and encourage closer economic ties between the two countries. China’s Foreign Ministry “resolutely opposes” the US legislation and has already lodged a formal complaint with Washington.
Chinese state media predicted that the bill, if signed into law, could embolden Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to seek full independence for the island, potentially triggering China’s Anti-Secession Law. Passed in 2005, the legislation allows Beijing to “use force to prevent the island from seceding,” an editorial in the official China Daily warned.
“Since the US is bound by domestic law to act on behalf of the island in that instance, it would only give substance to the observation that the descent into hell is easy,” the editorial added.
The state-run Global Times took a similar position, warning in its own editorial that US political ambitions in the region could force China’s hand, resulting in “targeted measures against pro-independence forces in Taiwan.”
Citing “the strength of the People’s Liberation Army,” the Global Times argued that mainland China now enjoys “unparalleled strategic initiative across the Taiwan Straits.” The paper added that “the military and political situation across the [Taiwan] Straits” has “fundamentally changed.”
Despite the stern warnings from Beijing, Taiwan has welcomed the US legislation. Describing Washington as a “solid ally,” Premier Willian Lai said on Friday that he “wholeheartedly” anticipates that the law will “further raise the substantive relationship between Taiwan and the United States.”
The United States currently has no formal ties with Taiwan, but serves as the island’s main arms provider and is bound by law to help defend the territory.
The Taiwan Relations Act stipulates that the US provide Taiwan with all necessary arms to ensure the island’s self-defense from potential attacks. While the law does not require the US to directly intervene in the case of an attack against Taiwan, it leaves all military options on the table.
In January, Taiwanese troops staged live-fire exercises on simulating a response to an invasion. Taipei did not specify that the annual drill simulated an invasion by China, but said it was intended to “show determination to safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait and national security.” Tsai had warned a month earlier that tensions between Taiwan and China must not be resolved through military force.
Meanwhile, Beijing is trying to integrate the Taiwanese into mainland China via legislative moves. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Wednesday announced 31 new measures designed to make it easier for Taiwanese to invest, work and study on the mainland.
Courtesy – RT