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Huanqiu Editor’s Commentary: Taiwan Travel Act Shows the New U.S. Position on Dealing with China

{Editor’s Note: After the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Travel Act and President Trump signed it on March 16, Huanqiu, a media under People’s Daily, issued an editor’s commentary on the Sino-U.S. relationship. It stated that the U.S. has adjusted its position against China and won’t revert back anytime soon. Therefore, China should be realistic and receptive to having turmoil in Sino-U.S. relations; it should not make unnecessary sacrifices in an attempt to re-build the formerly “friendly” theme.

The following is a translation of the article.} {1}

The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives passed the “Taiwan Travel Act.” Then on March 16, U.S. President Trump signed it into law. The Taiwan Green Party had been looking forward to this day for a long time.

The passage of the “Taiwan Travel Act” has encouraged the Tsai Ing-wen administration and the “Taiwan independence” forces. In the long run, it is highly likely that high-ranking officials from the U.S. and Taiwan will visit each other often. The mainland side should not have illusions that the Trump administration will not actually implement the law.

However, this does not mean that the strategic landscape of the Taiwan Strait has changed; nor does it mean that the “Taiwan independence” chip has gained any favorable weight. The mainland continues to rise in power. Our control over the situation across the Taiwan Strait continues to increase and we have come up with more and more ways for Beijing to strangle “Taiwan’s independence” in the international community. It has become less of an issue for the People’s Liberation Army to win the battle if it needs to take decisive action against “Taiwan’s independence” under China’s “Anti-Secession Law.” All of this is real and will not be reversed.

The issue of the “Taiwan Travel Act” is precisely the issue of Sino-U.S. relations. It is a way that the U.S. has used to express its strong dissatisfaction with the rise of China. It is an open declaration that Washington no longer abides by the previous framework of Sino-U.S. relations and is preparing to use various means to strengthen its position when playing a game with China. It also represents real action that the U.S. will not hesitate to take in order to pressure China. .

One should notice that the language that the American elites use when talking about China is getting tougher and harder. Several major strategic reports from the United States have listed China as a major strategic competitor and the U.S. is formulating a large-scale policy of trade pressure on China. Now the “Taiwan Travel Act” has taken effect. All of this is building up a strong revisionist impulse for the U.S. to target Sino-U.S. relations.

Regarding Sino-U.S. relations, we also have to give up another illusion: that we can change the attitude of the other side by persuading them and offering small concessions in order to get through the unstable period of Sino-U.S. relations. We must make it clear that, “What must be, must be,” and that the change in the U.S. strategic mentality toward China will not return to what it was within a short period of time. China can only face the reality and adopt a strategy change to respond to the U.S.’ change. Let’s be sure that our response is firm and steady.

First of all, we must calmly accept some ups and downs in the Sino-U.S. relations and even shockwaves. We need to redefine the “normal state” of Sino-U.S. relations, not over-emphasize the significance of the “friendly atmosphere” of the two countries, and not try to create an atmosphere that binds our hands or even wastes our resources and forces us to make an unnecessary withdrawal.

Second, we need to pay attention to the contents in Sino-U.S. relations rather than the surface. Our fundamental goal should be that, for a long time to come, China’s economic growth will continue at a much faster rate than the United States. We shouldn’t care too much about how much respect we can get from the United States and how stable the Sino-U.S. relations are.

Third, we should not take the initiative to escalate the conflict with the United States, but we also will never make any unnecessary compromise. We do not take the initiative to provoke, but we must be brave enough to fight back. We must not be concerned about the intensification of the Sino-U.S. conflict during the battle.

Fourth, China is a nuclear giant country and has a strong overall national power. We must firmly believe that the U.S. administrations that are bullying and indiscreet in foreign affairs do not dare to go too far in provoking a war with China. We should have such a strategic determination: as long as there is no large-scale war between China and the United States, everything else is a trivial matter.

Fifth, as far as the Taiwan issue is concerned, we must use more of our strengths, including destroying Taiwan’s diplomatic relations, increasing military pressure on Taiwan, and accurately cracking down on “Taiwan’s independence” forces. For things that we cannot control, such as what officials the United States sends to Taiwan, we cannot allow those things to become the center of our attention. Otherwise, we will be following Washington’s lead. We must introduce more proactive measures that the Democratic Progressive Party authorities cannot tolerate to offset the negative consequences of the exchange of visits between U.S. and Taiwan officials.

Sino-U.S. relations are relations between big powers that have never been seen in human society. Whether it is uncontrollable or controllable, what will happen next? Neither side is quite clear today. As the relatively weaker party, China prefers to maintain the stability of Sino-U.S. relations. This is inevitable. However, China is also very strong. If Sino-U.S. relations deteriorate in an all-around manner, it is also unacceptable to the United States and hard for the U.S. administration to explain to their people. Therefore, China should treat China-U.S. relations with a calm attitude. We are neither picky nor timid. Whatever the future of Sino-U.S. relations will be, we will be OK.

{1} Huanqiu, “Editor’s Commentary: Taiwan Travel Act Shows the New U.S. Position on Dealing with China,” March 17, 2018.