US ‘must use all military and diplomatic means’ to defend Taiwan against Beijing

14-Feb-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A group of US scholars has called on President Donald Trump to be ready to deter aggression by mainland China against Taiwan, maintain a strong military presence in the Western Pacific and help the self-ruled island develop a strategy in tackling expansionist Beijing.

In a 53-page report released by the Task Force on US-China Policy a group of China 17 specialists formed by the Asia Society Washington was reminded of the US’ long-standing policy of insisting on a peaceful resolution to the question of Taiwan’s future and the extent of the self-governing island’s dependence upon US military power.

The panel of experts said the United States should not break with nearly 50 years of practice and challenge Beijing’s one-China policy, a move that would inflame tensions across the Taiwan Strait or, worse, precipitate military force from mainland China.

The report said: “Washington must maintain a strong and credible military presence in the Western Pacific to convince Beijing that the United States still has serious military options”, despite China’s rapid military expansion and development of advanced weapons.

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

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The report, “Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy”, addressed the gulf in military forces between Beijing and Taipei and said it was necessary for Washington to “assist Taiwan in developing asymmetric capabilities to hold off the massively superior mainland military until the United States can bring forces to bear”.

“Robust shore batteries, improved air defences, mobile response units, and sea mines to counter landing craft can all pose major problems for an invading People’s Liberation Army (PLA) force,” the report said, suggesting that Washington ensure that Taiwan is properly equipped for self-defence.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province that must be brought back to the mainland fold, by force if necessary. It has suspended official exchanges with Taiwan, staged a series of war games around the island and wooed away five of its allies since Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle.

Beijing insisted that cross-strait exchanges could only be resumed after the Tsai government accepted that Taiwan was a part of China.

The panel, which included Susan Shirk, a former US deputy assistant secretary of state in president Bill Clinton’s administration, and Orville Schell, director of the non-profit Asia Society’s Centre on US-China Relations, called for greater dialogue between all parties concerned with Taiwan’s future and empowerment of Taipei on the international stage.

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Washington should look for a resumption of dialogue across the strait, they said. It must allow high-level official visits between the US and Taiwan, explore further trade and investment liberalisation with Taiwan, and continue to push for increased participation for Taiwan in international organisations and activities for which statehood is not a requirement.

Since Trump took office in 2016, he has adopted an “America first” policy as a means of countering Beijing’s ambition to expand militarily, commercially and diplomatically across the Indo-Pacific region.

He signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows high-level diplomatic exchanges between Washington and Taipei, has overseen two batches of weapons sales and authorised spending that will help Taiwan improve its defences much to the annoyance of Beijing.

Wang Kung-yi, a professor of political science at Chinese Culture University, said that while calls from American scholars and congressmen were good for Taiwanese morale, “they certainly would fuel concerns from Beijing, which might further increase its pressure on Taiwan”.

Republican US senators want to invite Taiwan’s Tsai to address Congress

Last week, US senators asked House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to invite Tsai to address a joint meeting of Congress, an invitation that would anger Beijing as China and the US seek to negotiate their way out of a messy and costly dispute over trade tariffs.

Taiwan said there were no plans for such a visit.



Category: Taiwan

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