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Huanqiu Editorial: China May Have a Face-off against the U.S. to Prevent Its Naval Ships from Docking in Taiwan

{Editor’s note: Huanqiu (Global Times) published an editorial strongly opposing U.S. battleships docking in Taiwan. It stated that China should tell the U.S. that, “China does not want the U.S. military forces to dock in or be stationed in Taiwan under any circumstance.”It would be considered a move towards “Taiwan Independence.” China is willing to attack Taiwan’s naval bases and even sink the U.S.’ ships to protect its sovereignty. The following is the translation of the article.} {1}

On August 14, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. It contained an item to allow the warships of the U.S and Taiwan to dock at each other’s ports. The bill will go to the Senate for consideration. After the House and Senate reconcile any differences, the President will sign the bill into law. If China does not apply a sufficiently strong pressure (to stop it), it is highly probable that the bill will become law.

The U.S. withdrew its military forces from Taiwan in 1979 when China and the U.S. established diplomatic relations. If the new defense authorization bill becomes law, it would mean that the U.S. military forces can “lawfully” return to Taiwan. Although one or two warships docking at a port in Taiwan may be only “symbolic” under the current situation in the Taiwan Strait, the emergence of U.S. warships will serve as a jump-start to “Taiwan independence.” It is hard to say that this will be the “last piece” of the U.S.-Taiwan military cooperation. Who knows what other, more dangerous actions the hawks in Washington may take in the future?

Of course there is also another possibility. Even if the U.S. Congress passes the bill, the U.S. government may not send warships to dock in Taiwan. Instead, they may just use the bill as a chip to threaten China, which will inevitably increase the cost for China to maintain its relations with the U.S. It will also put China in a passive and unfavorable position in the Sino-U.S. strategic game.

Think about it. If U.S. destroyers go to Taiwan, can we not do anything? How about U.S. aircraft carriers going to Taiwan? What if they dock there, not for a few days, but for a few weeks, a few months, or if they do not leave Taiwan? Also, what if it is not a normal stop and dock, but U.S. warships come to Taiwan whenever the relationship between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait becomes intense? What if the U.S. even sets up a military base for the U.S. Marine Corps at the port of Kaohsiung?

We probably need to look several steps ahead before taking one step on the issue of the U.S. warships docking at Taiwan’s ports. If the U.S. can take a few steps afterwards that China absolutely will not accept, then, at that time, China may have to engage in a showdown to stop it. Then China may as well just act now to draw a red line for the U.S. and Taiwan.

One may say that the root cause of the Taiwan issue (a possible split from China) is the U.S. It makes sense, but we should not take it to the extreme. Would Washington have passed such a defense authorization bill during the Ma Ying-jeou period? Even if it had passed, would it have been useful? Would the Kuomintang government have welcomed the docking of U.S. warships? {Editor’s note: Ma Ying-jeou was Taiwan’s President from 2008 to 2016. The author is implying that Ma Ying-jeou and his party, the Kuomintang, were pro the One-China policy, so this kind of issue would not have occurred and also that the current Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her party, the Democratic Progress Party (DPP) are pro One-China and one-Taiwan. Therefore this issue would come up.}

From the telephone call between Trump and Tsai Ing-wen to the U.S. Congress’ promoting that U.S. warships dock in Taiwan, Tsai’s administration has played a key role. Tsai appears to be gentle and soft, but she is flamboyant from her bones. Through several diplomatic actions, Mainland China has dampened her arrogance. However, Tsai and her colleagues apparently have not learned their lessons yet and even attempt to counter back. The idea of the U.S. warships docking in Taiwan bears the shadow of this “counterattack.”

It must be pointed out that the U.S. warships returning to Taiwan will be the most dangerous and severe backing-up of the “Taiwan independence” movement in decades. It will be an action that will truly change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. If Tsai Ing-wen and the U.S. echo each other and take this step, then she will be further down the “Taiwan independence” path than Chen Shui-bian (President of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008, who was also from the DPP. China criticized him severely for attempting to take Taiwan toward independence).

It is far from enough just (for China) to exert diplomatic pressure on the Tsai Ing-wen authorities. It seems to be imperative (for China) to increase its military pressure on Taiwan. Moreover, for U.S. warships to dock in Taiwan, in and of itself, is a military action. If Mainland China does not respond using military means, the current political and military status quo in the Taiwan Strait is bound to be rewritten.

We advocate that Mainland China should view the U.S. warships’ docking in Taiwan as a violation of China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Beijing should consider taking a series of measures to respond and make them public. Those measures should include a military strike against Taiwan’s naval ports where U.S. warships would dock. If Taiwan counterattacks, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will carry out a second strike against Taiwan. If the U.S. warships participate in Taiwan’s counterattack, China will fire back to sink the U.S. warships.

We are not going to push for a declaration of war against Taiwan and the U.S., but to advocate a clearly drawn (China’s) bottom line on the Taiwan Strait issue: under no circumstance can the U.S. military forces stop at Taiwan. Whether the two sides of the Taiwan Strait want peace or war is up to the choice that the Taiwan authorities make. The rules of the game in the Taiwan Strait cannot be like this: no matter how aggressive the Taiwan authorities are, Taiwan is safe. The Taiwan Strait issue must have a true red line. Once Taiwan authorities touch the red line, it will be finished.

China is committed to a peaceful rise but must have the courage to fight. Only in this way can our economic and military power be transformed into a powerful deterrent to the “Taiwan independence” forces and to the external (hostile) forces, and only in this way can the red line we draw be taken seriously.

Tsai Ing-wen authorities do not dare to fight with Mainland China. In the event that the PLA attacks military facilities on Taiwan Island, Taiwan will be in chaos. Their party, the DPP will be ousted. So once Mainland China announces that U.S. warships’ docking in Taiwan will lead to military strikes, Tsai authorities will back off.

In 2005, Mainland China passed the Anti-Secession Law, but the Taiwan authorities paid much less attention to this law than they did to the Taiwan Relations Act that the U.S. passed. It is time to wake Taiwan up to check out its words and deeds against the Anti-Secession Law.

{1} Huanqiu, “Huanqiu Commentary: China Can Have a Face-off against the U.S. to Prevent Its Naval Ships from Docking in Taiwan,” July 16, 2017.