Protesters opposed to Taiwanese independence gather at a hotel where Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to arrive in New York, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Tsai will find herself in a more difficult situation after US transit: Global Times editorial

Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen kicked off a trip on Wednesday, claiming she is heading to Guatemala and Belize in Central America. However, it is clear to everyone that the centerpiece of the trip would be “transiting through” the US. This is a trick she had played six times previously, and with her term soon ending, she appears to want to make one more last big play before the end of her political career. However, the public protests that “opposed the sale of Taiwan to the US and the collusion between the US and Taiwan which will harm the island,” have reminded Tsai that this visit will only leave her with a “historical position” of being a disgraced descendant.

On the path of seeking independence with US support, Tsai and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have behaved like desperate gamblers who have lost their senses. However, the problem is that the stakes they are gambling with are not just their own private assets or those of their party, but the livelihood and wellbeing of the people in Taiwan and even the fate of the island. An atmosphere of worries is permeating the island’s media, which is fearful of what kind of new instructions Tsai will bring back from her American boss. The island’s media described the trip as “strapping a bomb to Taiwan itself and pouring gasoline on itself,” which shows that this is a risky and ominous trip.

According to Taiwan media reports, the DPP had hoped to achieve a “major breakthrough” and even “seek a historical position” through Tsai’s US transit. However, Washington “intentionally downplayed the visit,” making it rather bland. For the US, it wants to turn the regional leader’s transit into a card against China, but is also concerned that it might become a hand grenade that cannot be thrown out if things go too far. The DPP authorities are in such a predicament. It is merely a pawn on the US chessboard, and Washington decides where to place it based on its own geopolitical needs.

Until Tsai’s departure, neither the DPP authorities nor the US side officially announced her specific itinerary, and all kinds of information were tentatively released via media. It can be seen that both Tsai and the DPP authorities, and even the US side, are wary and know that some things cannot be exposed publicly as they violate the rules. However, they cannot let go of their desire to do those bad things, so they appear to be sneaky and secretive. The White House claimed that Tsai’s “transit” was of a private nature and that there were no arrangements for US officials to meet with her. We will wait and see if there will be a slap in the face on these claims.

The Chinese side has already made solemn representations to the US side on this issue several times. If Tsai has contact with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, it will be another serious violation of the one-China principle and damage to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as a provocation that undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. We firmly oppose to it and will take resolute countermeasures. The form and degree of the counterattack will depend on the specific circumstances, and the initiative is in our own hands. However, the final outcome will undoubtedly be that every provocation by Washington will be met with the Chinese side’s resolute countermeasures, and every act of “Taiwan independence” by Tsai and the DPP authorities will result in tighter constraints on them.

There is one thing that can be told to Tsai in advance: When she returns after transiting through the US, she will definitely find a more difficult situation. What awaits her is not only the accurate countermeasures from the mainland but also the increasing vigilance and opposition from the residents within the island against her pursuit of independence with US support. She will also face a complete disdain toward her political manipulation while ignoring the livelihood and wellbeing of the people on the island.

It’s clear that the mainstream public on the island hopes for peaceful relations across the Straits, and there is deep concern about the tendency of the DPP authorities to trample on the red line and cause tensions to escalate or even start a conflict. As patriotic compatriots on both sides of the Straits are making the greatest effort to realize peaceful reunification, the “Taiwan independence” movement is becoming increasingly unpopular on the island. An increasing number of people on the island realize that reunification is beneficial, “Taiwan independence” is a dead end, and the US is unreliable.

Against the backdrop of increasingly tense China-US relations, the DPP authorities think they see an opportunity to seek private political interests, which is their biggest misjudgment. Prior to Tsai’s US transit, former US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said he believes a Taiwan with 1 million AK47-armed citizens on “every corner and in every apartment block” would be a fearful deterrent to the mainland during his visit to Taiwan. Such frantic remarks confirm that the so-called “porcupine strategy” of the US to arm the Taiwan island is essentially a “strategy of destroying Taiwan.” For the over 23 million Taiwan compatriots, it has come to a critical moment when they must keep their eyes open.  GT

China strongly condemns US for arranging Tsai’s transit

Chinese nationals hold a board saying “Tsai Ing-wen is big traitor of China” to protest Tsai’s transit trip on March 29, 2023 outside the hotel where she was staying in Manhattan, New York.

China strongly protested and condemned the US on Thursday for having arranged a transit through the US for the regional leader of the Taiwan island in total disregard of China’s solemn representations and repeated warnings, as Tsai Ing-wen has arrived in New York and was scheduled to attend a think tank event and meet US officials.

The stopover also drew strong protests among Chinese nationals, who called Tsai a “traitor of the nation” outside the hotel where she was staying in Manhattan. Some experts also warned that if the US does not properly handle the transit, as Tsai plans to meet US house speaker Kevin McCarthy in California on her way back to Taiwan, it would result in severe consequences for the already strained US-China relations and affect the high-level interactions between Chinese and US officials.

In response to the question about Tsai has met with Taiwanese diaspora and delivered remarks while transiting through the US, Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday that China firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the US and the Taiwan region, firmly opposes any visit by leader of the Taiwan region to the US in any name or under whatever pretext, firmly opposes the US government having any form of official contact with the Taiwan region.

“In disregard of China’s strong démarches and repeated warnings, the US insisted on arranging the so-called ‘transit’ for Tsai Ing-wen to go to the US. China strongly protests and condemns that,” the spokesperson said.

According to media reports, Tsai will attend a banquet with some people from Taiwan in New York and an event on Thursday with the Hudson Institute, a conservative American think tank that has provided platforms for politicians such as former US vice president Mike Pence and die-hard anti-China figures like former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Miles Yu.

Outside the hotel in New York where Tsai is staying and along the streets in Manhattan, groups of Chinese nationals staged a protest by waving Chinese national flags in opposition to Tsai’s stopover. Some held banners saying “Selling out Taiwan is national sin” and “Tsai is a big traitor of China.” Members of the US group Center for Political Innovation also spoke out against her Tsai’s, saying “We need money for jobs and infrastructure in America. No more weapons to Taiwan.”

By using the excuse of a “transit,” the US is colluding with Taiwan and arranging for Tsai to engage in political activities in the US in an attempt to upgrade the official contacts and relations between the US and the island, which violates the one-China principle and the three joint communiqués between China and the US, Mao said.

It also severely damaged China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, sending the wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” separatists, which again proved that the fundamental cause of escalating tensions in the Taiwan Straits is the DPP authorities seeking “Taiwan independence” by colluding with the US and some people in the US seeking to contain China by playing “the Taiwan card,” the spokesperson said.

The Chinese Consulate General in New York also issued a statement on Thursday condemning the transit. “The US connives and supports relevant acts of the Taiwan authorities, strengthens official interaction with Taiwan and upgrades its substantive exchanges with the region, which impacts the political foundation of China-US relations,” the consulate said.

“Tsai’s visit could lead to another serious confrontation in China-US relations,” Xu Xueyuan, the chargés d’affaires in the Chinese Embassy in the US, was quoted as saying in media reports.

It’s pretty clear that the US government and the US Congress will use Tsai’s transit as an occasion to show support and sympathy to the “Taiwan independence” separatists, and use the occasion of Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy to further ease restrictions on official contacts between the US and Taiwan, Zhu Feng, executive dean of the School of International Studies under Nanjing University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“The US should not let the transit become an excuse to fuel the fire of cross-Straits relations or use the event to advance its ‘one China, one Taiwan’ policy,” Zhu said. “But for the moment, the overall attitude of the Biden administration remains low key.”

Impact on China-US relations

While Reuters said as many as 20 or more US lawmakers planned to accompany McCarthy for his meeting with Tsai, it remains unknown if any officials from the White House would meet her, which has become an important point to be watched in evaluating the consequences of Tsai’s transit through the US.

Especially, the US government has learned lessons from the unprecedented countermeasures in both diplomacy and military terms that China took in response to former house speaker Nancy Pelosi’s provocative visit to Taiwan in August 2022, Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“The US side has to remain restrained and avoid further provoking China on the matter. But if she [Tsai] meets McCarthy, it’s still a serious matter against which China will resolutely fight back, and some high-level interactions between China and the US could be postponed,” Wu said.

The White House said Wednesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken still wants to visit China after postponing a trip last month amid rising tensions with Beijing, the USA Today reported.

The US also has been in discussions with Chinese officials about a possible trip to Beijing by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to discuss economic issues, according to media reports.

“If the US does not properly handle Tsai’s transit and further provokes China, Blinken’s visit could be further postponed,” Wu said.

It is also possible that no high-level US officials meet Tsai during her transit as Washington has to think carefully about the consequences, while the US will continue manipulating the Taiwan question, which would only further lower its credibility on its China policy, some experts said.

“In the long run, when the US deals with China, it will seek to maximize its own interests. On the one hand, it asks for help from China when it needs cooperation, and on the other hand, it continues playing the ‘Taiwan card’ to challenge our bottom line,” Wu said.  GT