Monday, August 06, 2018

China Should ‘Strike Back’ at US Senate Bill
By Cao Siqi
Global Times
2018/8/2 22:58:41

China should prepare to strike back at the US with countermeasures, even a showdown, to quash US interference in cross-Straits ties, Chinese experts warned after the US Senate passed a defense bill that would improve Taiwan's self-defense capabilities by expanding joint training.

By an 87-10 vote, the US Senate on Wednesday approved the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, after the US House of Representatives approved it last week, and US President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

On the Taiwan question, several of the bill's provisions call for the strengthening of the defense partnership with the island. It suggests improving Taiwan's self-defense capabilities by expanding joint training, military equipment sales, the use of security cooperation authorities, and senior-level military-to-military engagement.

It also proposes sending a service secretary or member of the Joint Chiefs to Taiwan for senior-level defense engagement under the Taiwan Travel Act.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Thursday that China discussed the bill with the US several times, and "we urge the US side to discard the outdated Cold War and zero-sum game mentality."

China urges the US not to allow the bill to become law, much less to be implemented, Geng said, stressing that "China firmly opposes official interaction and military relationship between any country and Taiwan."

"It is mere a trick to pressure China and increase its bargaining power with the Chinese mainland amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington on trade," Yang Lixian, a specially-appointed research fellow at the Beijing-based Research Center on Cross-Strait Relations, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Trump, a shrewd businessman, will not easily cross the red line and trade China-US ties for the relationship between the US and Taiwan, Yang noted. "But China should always prepare to strike back with countermeasures and insist the firm determination to safeguard national unity."

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, said the Chinese military is always prepared for a crisis in the Taiwan Straits and is not afraid of reunifying the island by force.

"China faces a huge threat from US interference in the Taiwan Straits. The US will strengthen its military connection with the island and soon establish an information-sharing system in Taiwan," Song said.

Although the bill deleted the part of "participation in appropriate Taiwan exercises, such as the annual Han Kuang exercise" previously seen in the draft, it does not mean the US will give up its ambition to conduct more joint military actions, Song added. "China will closely watch what the US does, and once the US crosses the red line by sending military forces or equipment to the island, even supporting Taiwan independence, China will risk everything to protect its own territorial integrity."

Dangerous trend

Analysts pointed out that in the past, the US' previous engagement in defense cooperation with the island of Taiwan usually maintains a low profile, but things are changing now. Security collaboration between the US and the island of Taiwan is increasing, and some of it has been made public.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently tweeted that "Taiwan will join US navy drills in the Solomon Islands as part of Pacific Partnership. Not the first time, but now being announced publicly."

In the past two years, the Pentagon has stressed the US' commitment to arms sales to Taiwan. Washington has also granted the marketing license for the sale of submarine technology to the island. In early July, Washington sent two US destroyers through the Taiwan Straits, which is a gesture that many observers believe is directed at China-US ties and the Taiwan question.

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen is relying more heavily on US protection. After Trump announced the US' Indo-Pacific strategy, Tsai has sought to participate in it and play a special role in military and security affairs.

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