2023-0126: Beijing No Longer Comfortable with Status Quo, Blinken Warns; China “Has No Right” to Dictate to Taiwan

Blinken: Beijing No Longer Comfortable with Taiwan-China Status Quo

On January 20, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the importance of cross Taiwan-Strait stability, but expressed concern that China was no longer comfortable with the status quo.

The Taiwan-China “status quo” is vital to maintaining peace and stability and has “actually been successful in terms of the relationship between our countries in managing what is a difficult situation,” Blinken said in a moderated conversation at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

But China apparently has made “a decision that it was no longer comfortable with the status quo” and has been ratcheting up the pressure on Taiwan in recent years, he said.

The pressure included not only military and economic coercion, but also efforts seeking to cut off Taiwan’s ties to countries around the world and to international organizations, said Blinken, who is to visit Beijing next month from February 5 to 6.

The cross-Taiwan Strait issue is considered a sovereignty issue for Beijing, Blinken said, but from Washington’s perspective it is “an interest to the United States and to countries around the world.”

Any disruption of the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait would be a disaster to the world economy, he said, noting that 50 percent of container ships operating around the world go through the Taiwan Strait and 70 percent of higher-end computer chips are manufactured in Taiwan.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202301210007
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/01/22/2003792987

China “Has No Right” to Dictate to Taiwan: Taiwan’s Envoy to U.S.

China has no right to decide or define how Taiwan engages with the world, Taiwan’s Representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim said in an interview with the Associated Press on January 20.

The interview came after a year of higher tensions with China, including China launching ballistic missiles over Taiwan and temporarily suspending most dialogue with the United States after then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.

Asked if new U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy should make good on his earlier pledge to visit Taiwan as well, Hsiao said: “That will be his decision. But I think ultimately the people of Taiwan have welcomed visitors from around the world.”

China’s leadership in Beijing “has no right to decide or define how we engage with the world,” she emphasized.

After watching the Ukrainians’ successful hard-scrabble defense against invading Russian forces, Taiwan realizes that it needs to load up on Javelins, Stingers, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and other small, mobile weapons systems, Hsiao said.

The Taiwanese and Americans have reached agreement on some of those, she said.

Taiwan is pushing to make sure that a shift to grittier, asymmetric weapon supplies for Taiwanese ground forces “happens as soon as possible,” Hsiao added.

Taiwan has learned important lessons from Ukraine’s war that would help it deter any attack by China or defend itself if invaded, she said.

Among the lessons: Do more to prepare military reservists and also civilians for the kind of all-of-society fight that Ukrainians are waging against Russia.

“Everything we’re doing now is to prevent the pain and suffering of the tragedy of Ukraine from being repeated in our scenario in Taiwan,” she said. “So ultimately, we seek to deter the use of military force. But in a worst-case scenario, we understand that we have to be better prepared.”

Ukraine’s experience has had lessons for the U.S. and other allies as well, Hsiao said, including the importance of a united allied stand behind threatened democracies.

“It’s critical to send a consistent message to the authoritarian leaders that force is never an option … force will be met by a strong international response, including consequences,” she added.

[1] AP News: https://apnews.com/article/taiwan-politics-government-united-states-china-aace5bd86f796473efcd4b65a8daca5f
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/01/22/2003792986