Drums of war | By Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi

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Drums of war

THERE has been a dangerous situation brewing in the Taiwan Strait since the ill-advised visit of the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi despite strong protests and warnings by China.

This unnecessary and deliberate provocation by the US has added another element of uncertainty, instability and chaos in the already worrying and unpredictable flux in the world order prevalent these days.

One of the two centennial goals of China is the return of the lost territories and reunification of China and rejuvenation of Chinese nation by 2049.

For China, Taiwan is important for its sovereignty and territorial integrity as it is, historically, an integral part of China.

For Chinese, the motherland is incomplete till the renegade province returns and integrates with the People’s Republic of China.

Considering its location and immense western political, economic and military support, it continues to receive as part of the US containment strategy, Taiwan has become an existential question for China.

Pelosi’s visit has served no purpose except triggering a new round of tension, increase suspicion and making the danger of a military conflict over Taiwan far greater than at any time since the China-US rapprochement in 1971.

Pakistan was the bridge used by the US to reach out to China when Kissinger made his historic secret visit to Beijing starting a new era in world politics in 1971.

Mao made it clear to Kissinger during this first meeting that China would be patient provided the “One-China” policy was strictly observed and the Taiwanese government did not declare independence.

According to Kissinger, Mao said, “We can do without Taiwan for the time being, and let it come after 100 years.

” Since this understanding reached with the US, China demonstrated great patience and farsightedness upholding its part of the understanding reached.

Despite repeated incitements of various kinds and attempts by the US to facilitate Taiwan’s entry at various international forums and organizations, understanding reached by Nixon-Mao rapprochement underpinned the US-China relationship on Taiwan question.

Following this rapprochement, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758 in 1971, which decided to restore lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations and recognized representatives of the PRC government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations.

Thus confirming that there was one and only one China recognized by international community and laid the foundation of “one China policy”, followed since then by all nations including the US.

Therefore, one-China principle has become the internationally recognized consensus.

China’s firm position that Pelosi’s visit to the island and the secessionist Taiwan authorities have openly challenged the very spirit of the UN Resolution 2758, under the pretext of ‘democracy’ to justify their violation of international consensus and UN resolution is, therefore, validated.

Although since 1949, the West led by US have fully backed secessionist elements in Taiwan and have always encouraged it to defy Beijing, Trump’s presidency started the process of openly challenged Mao-Kissinger rapprochement of 1971 unravelling US-China relationship and heralding the end of over four decades of relative stability in US-China relations.

Trump’s first actions as President was to talk to Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, the first time since 1979 that a US President had spoken with a Taiwanese regional leader.

He even began to question the One-China policy, although he was dissuaded from pursuing this path by more sober elements in his administration.

The US has continued to encroach on the long-term understanding with China by increasing weapon sales to Taiwan, boosting military patrols in the region, and giving diplomatic backing to the island through visits by US politicians.

Visit of Pelosi, third senior most person in the US has caused colossal damage to decades-old understanding over Taiwan, leaving China with little choice but to respond in a manner it deems befitting.

Pelosi’s visit certainly goes against the US’ promise not to support “Taiwan independence” forces on the island.

China feels that this provocation by Pelosi is a clear evidence that US is deliberately trying to change the status quo in Taiwan Strait and undermining cross-Strait peace and stability.

Pelosi’s visit has only added fuel to a relationship that is already highly charged and intensely volatile.

Many analysts in China feel the relationship is now partly unhinged if not completely irretrievable.

The Chinese people and leadership are clear that they would not allow external interfering forces and internal separatist forces to jointly conspire to undermine its sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

They have clearly manifested their intention to defend China’s core interests, and to take all countermeasures necessary, and will exercise all rights that a sovereign country has to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In this regard, China announced a number of countermeasures which fundamentally aim to promote the process of national reunification.

China’s countermeasures, the officials said, will not be one-off but a combination of long-term, resolute and steadily advancing actions.

Expressing their determination, the Chinese officials stated, “The time and momentum to achieve the reunification of the motherland are always firmly in our own hands.

No matter what form they take to support Taiwan and contain the mainland, forces like Pelosi cannot change historical and legal fact that Taiwan belongs to China, nor can they hinder the trend of China realizing full reunification.

It should be noted that every step external forces, such as US and the DPP authorities take to upgrade their collusion and provocations, faster China will realize the full reunification.

” This is a clear signal that although taking Taiwan by force is not an option of choice for China but if needed, it could be done.

Chin also moved to ensure that strength of its armed forces and will of China to defend its sovereignty do not go unnoticed by both the US and Taiwanese authorities.

Just as Pelosi was nearing Taiwan, the PLA Air Force sent its Su-35 fighter jets over the Taiwan Strait in a show of force.

PLA Eastern Theatre Command held joint military operations around Taiwan Island with joint maritime and air drills in north, southwest, southeast of island, long-range artillery shooting in Taiwan Straits, and conventional missile test firing in sea regions east of island.

PLA also conducted exercises and training activities including live-fire drills surrounding Taiwan.

The unprecedented drills featured advanced weapons, including anti-ship ballistic missiles, stealth fighter jets and an aircraft carrier group with a nuclear-powered submarine, as well as realistic tactics that simulated a real reunification-by-force operation, demonstrating and honing the PLA’s capabilities to not only take over the island, but also prevent any external interference including from the US.

This latest episode of provocation by the US against China is a demonstration of the growing fear of China’s phenomenal rise and the imminent possibility of China emerging as the most powerful state in the world economically, politically and strategically.

It also manifests the insatiable desire of US to continuously have an enemy to fight against.

When there is none, they ensure one is created, in this case China. This latest ill-advised move of the US has heightened the possibility of the dormant war theatre opening in the Strait of Taiwan destabilizing the entire region and beyond.

It has also made the China-US relationship completely unpredictable, unstable and volatile. In order to save the world from yet another devastating conflict, both the US and China need to reaffirm the basic principles of their long-held and shared understanding over Taiwan and adhere to the one-China principle as enshrined in the UNGA Resolution.

The danger of a military conflict or any such conflict would be disastrous because China is now the equal of the US and is a far more formidable military adversary than before.

It is, therefore, in the interest of humanity that such a devastating conflict is avoided by both sides.

—The writer is former Ambassador, based in Islamabad.

 

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