WASHINGTON, DC, Nov 4 — The winds of war are howling in the South China Sea as tensions mount between the Communist regime of mainland China and the island nation of Taiwan, just 124 miles to the south.
Although the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the State Department explains that “The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act provides the legal basis for the unofficial relationship between the United States and Taiwan and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan in maintaining its defensive capability.”
Apparently, however, that does not mean the U.S. would necessarily ally itself with Taiwan should the Communist Chinese decide to engage in a shooting war. In the world of diplomacy, there is what is called “strategic ambiguity.”
Thus, the suspiciously vague statement Sandra Oudkirk gave to ABC News. Oudkirk is the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city. As she explained it: “We are going to continue to advance global and regional goals of the Biden administration, including countering malign PRC [Peoples Republic of China] influence, recovering from the devastating impacts of the pandemic and addressing the threat of climate change.”
And, according to ABC News, she refused to comment on the revelation that U.S. troops are already on the ground in Taiwan, albeit for training purposes, according to President Tsai Ing-wen.
However, ambiguity is not going to mean much should the PRC decide to invade Taiwan; we either come to their rescue using bullets and bombs, or we sit this one out. The PRC’s Defense Ministry is not equivocating when it says: “If the U.S. continues to stubbornly cling to the illusion of using Taiwan to contain China…China will resolutely counter and fight back.”
Chiu Kuo-cheng, Taiwan’s Minister of Defense, seemed to give the U.S. a way out when he told reporters that his tiny nation should not have to depend on the U.S. for protection. He said, according to Newsweek, “The country must rely on itself, and if any friends or other groups can help us, then it’s like I said before, we’re happy to have it, but we cannot completely depend on it.” However, he added, they’d welcome all the help they can get in defending themselves from the Communist Chinese threat.
And, President Biden seemed to up the ante, according to an Associated Press report, when he stated that “I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back, we are not going to change any of our views.” The AP says that when he was asked if the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s rescue if attacked by PRC forces, Biden said, “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”
The war of words continued when PRC spokesman Zhao Lijian, in a news conference last week, declared that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair, which allows no interference by external forces. China will firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, oppose any country’s interference in the Taiwan question, and acts that undermine regional peace and stability.”
Ian Easton, author of “The Chinese Invasion Threat,” says the prospect of an invasion of Taiwan is likely. In a recent interview, Easton stated that the “risk is very real, that it will happen in our lifetime, and it could happen in the foreseeable, near future … It is possible to envision this ending in an all-out invasion attempt and superpower war. The next five to 10 years are going to be dangerous ones. This flashpoint is fundamentally unstable.”
On the other hand, the citizens of Taiwan seem to take the communist rhetoric and threatening flybys in stride. Beijing’s warplanes have breached the island’s airspace some 400 times in recent months, but life goes on in Taipei without undue worry or fear, according to CNN. Its reporters canvassed the folks there as they carried on with their daily chores, and the majority of them seem to ignore the growing numbers of menacing communist incursions.
A pair of 80-ish grandmothers, for example, simply said that “We don’t worry about it at all. The threat has always been there, and there’s nothing to worry about. If it were going to happen, it would’ve happened a long time ago.” And a young professional woman told a CNN reporter, “I think mainland China and Taiwan have always co-existed peacefully. There are Taiwanese people in mainland China, and there are mainland people here in Taiwan. We are all Chinese people.”
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