Taiwan and China: US dismisses ‘one China’ stance

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A US official warns of “terrible consequences” if Beijing retaliates The US has rejected China’s warnings of “terrible consequences” if it continues to press for the return of…

Taiwan and China: US dismisses 'one China' stance

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A US official warns of “terrible consequences” if Beijing retaliates

The US has rejected China’s warnings of “terrible consequences” if it continues to press for the return of Taiwan to its fold.

China’s envoy told China’s deputy US ambassador that Taipei must halt “the so-called ‘Taiwan independence’,” the White House said.

It has become an “imperative” for the US to protect Taiwan, Taiwan’s president said.

Her comments came amid a surge in concern about possible change in Taiwan’s status under President Tsai Ing-wen.

After a day of high-level diplomacy, a top American official warned China that it must “temper its language” towards Taiwan, or face “the very real consequences” of not backing down.

A White House spokesperson said China’s views on Taiwan were “not helpful” and would not help achieve the goal of improved relations between the two sides.

“The Chinese are sticking to their unfair position, which is not changing their position on the so-called ‘Taiwan independence’,” Chinese Deputy Ambassador Ma Xiaoguang said at a meeting with Thomas R. Shannon, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia.

He made a similar threat on Tuesday, when he said that Washington’s “historical position” of support for the “one China principle” – a reference to Taiwan as part of the Chinese nation – “requires the United States to be clear about any change in the ‘one China’ position in their policy toward Taiwan”.

Image copyright China/screenshot

In a written statement, Ms Tsai said her country’s goals on Taiwan were clear, “and it’s fully legitimate”, adding that “it is absolutely unacceptable to the global community that there be differences in policies and actions between the two sides” if they did not recognise the ‘one China’ principle.

Most crucially, she said: “The Taiwan Strait and cross-Strait issues cannot be resolved bilaterally, but by working together and working constructively for a peaceful solution that serves the interests of all countries and peoples.”

US national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that a good start would be for Beijing to accept the idea of a “one China” policy.

Mr Bolton also criticised the decision by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year to unilaterally recognise the “one China” principle.

Any attempt to undermine that process, he said, would be “extremely harmful and problematic to the ability of the United States and China to reach agreement on a range of issues.”

“We consider it to be extremely damaging that China has objected publicly to our trying to use the ‘one China’ principle as a building block in our bilateral relations,” he said.

US-China relationship

The Trump administration has not explicitly commented on the China-Taiwan issue.

Even before President Tsai’s election in January last year, the US was keen to maintain trade relations with China.

The US views itself as having no formal ties with Taiwan but has worked with it on issues such as trade and North Korea.

US relations with China are intrinsically linked to the future of the Western Pacific and to Taiwan’s position in it.

The United States’ approach to Taiwan is based on the rule of engagement – not confrontation or confrontation with China – as “another way to ensure that the South China Sea is free from coercion by China”.

It appears that Beijing is now being forced into making a tough choice.

This is precisely what Mr Trump is pushing for in North Korea. If China is willing to make the same kind of deal with the US, it could reduce the need for a comprehensive trade agreement with Washington.

However, a deal with Taiwan would entail Beijing recognising the two countries as part of the one China concept, which it has already rejected.

Many think Beijing will now play hardball with Taipei over this issue.

Sharing the “one China” principle was central to China’s latest diplomatic success, forging stronger ties with US ally Japan. Beijing has worked hard over the past year to forge stronger ties with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his new administration.

Pressure is also rising on the US to open talks with Taiwan over that island nation’s future.

On Wednesday, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said Beijing was poised to restart cooperation with South Korea and the US after the two neighbours agreed to resume discussions over the fate of a missile system on the Korean peninsula.

A breakthrough could lead to significant amounts of economic reform and set the stage for a free trade agreement between the two countries.

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