US will only hurt itself playing radical Taiwan card
Certain senators in Washington are attempting to use the Taiwan question to demonstrate their influence again. Aggressive clauses have not yet been applied by the Trump administration to enhance relations with Taiwan since the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act and Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018. It seems that the group of senators is seeking a breakthrough with this chance.
The American Institute in Taiwan launched its new office in June. High-ranking US officials were expected to commemorate its opening. Nonetheless, the North Korea-US summit in Singapore captured overwhelming attention and this event was set aside with little media coverage or high-level official presence. Washington is developing its ties with the island overtly and covertly. With Congress taking the lead in passing bills, the US government is pressuring China with these acts as bargaining chips.
A US cabinet-level official, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy visited Taipei to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act in 2014. Fortunately, with eased cross-Straits relations, McCarthy's trip did not result in a crisis. Mutual visits between US and Taiwan officials may touch the bottom line of the mainland, when the officials are at the cabinet level or US diplomatic and defense officials visit Taiwan or invite Taiwan "diplomatic" and "defense" officials to visit the US. These are prohibited by the principles agreed upon by China and the US when they established diplomatic ties.
The Taiwan Travel Act is in open provocation with these principles. If the Trump administration implements this, Washington knows full well that it will deal a heavy blow to China-US relations. In February, a group of US senators called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to invite Tsai Ing-wen to address a joint meeting of Congress. The aggressive call, however, was largely considered flawed and did not catch attention.
The US seems to be more willing to play the Taiwan card in a rather radical way. But such action is risky and will meet with retaliation from Beijing if it goes too far, which will in turn harm US interests. Such awareness has been playing a role in the US elite and policymaking circles.
In 1995, the Senate voted 97 to 1 and the House 396 to 0 to urge then US president Bill Clinton to allow Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui to visit the US. But today the scale of those stirring up trouble around the Taiwan question in the Congress is not comparable to that of the past.
It is the US political system that created decentralized power. If China concerns itself with every voice in the US, it will tire itself out by too much running around. Our resources should be focused on addressing Washington if it crosses the red line.
The island is so close to the mainland that we can easily take punitive actions against collusion with the US. The Chinese mainland has struck out at Taiwan independence arrogance by sending People's Liberation Army Air Force's fighter jets to patrol around the island and implementing 31 preferential policies for Taiwan in 2018.
The Democratic Progressive Party is still trying to boost its own influence by utilizing its relations with foreign forces. But relying on the US to confront the Chinese mainland will eventually not work as an election strategy. Eventually, the Taiwan question, once a major challenge to China's rise, will become history.