April 12, 2023 (Brian Berletic - New Eastern Outlook) - The island province of Taiwan has been pushed closer still to conflict by Washington recently as the US hosted a visit by Tsai Ing-Wen of the Democratic Progressive Party who currently heads the administration in Taipei.
During her trip to the United States, Tsai Ing-Wen met with the current US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in a move meant to deliberately undermine China’s sovereignty through oblique political recognition of separatist elements within China.
The BBC in its article, “China moves warships after US hosts Taiwan’s Tsai,” would claim:
China has launched military drills in response to a much-anticipated meeting between Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The article also claimed:
Beijing, in turn, has vowed a “resolute response” and sent warships into the waters around the self-governed island.
Taiwan, it appears, is caught in the middle of a dangerous love triangle. The timing of Ms Tsai’s visit is hardly a coincidence. In the US there is deep and growing hostility to China.
And this is driving ever more open displays of support for Taiwan, with Democrats and Republicans competing to out-do each other.
The British state media outlet failed to inform readers that officially, according to the US State Department’s own website, the US government does not recognize Taiwan’s independence and observes a “one China policy.” The “one China policy” means Washington recognizes there is only one China, Taiwan is a part of China, and that there is only one legitimate government of all of China, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Washington’s Double Dealing Over Taiwan
Official US policy regarding Taiwan mirrors that observed by the vast majority of nations on Earth along with a multitude of international institutions including the United Nations itself.
However, also on the same US State Department webpage, the reality of Washington’s double-dealing is revealed. The page claims:
The United States approach to Taiwan has remained consistent across decades and administrations. The United States has a longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence; and we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means. We continue to have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available defense articles and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability -– and maintains our capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of Taiwan.
The “three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances” involve communications and agreements made between Washington and Beijing recognizing the PRC’s sovereignty over all of China including Taiwan. These agreements were followed by the complete withdrawal of US forces who had been occupying the island province for over two decades until 1979.
However, the additional “Taiwan Relations Act,” was a unilateral law passed by the US Congress with no input or approval from Beijing, intended specifically to undermine Washington’s own agreed-upon one China policy. The Taiwan Relations Act “allows” the US government to supply the administration in Taipei with political and military support, undermining China’s sovereignty through the sometimes tacit, sometimes direct backing of separatism on the island province.
“Fight China to the Last Taiwanese”
The US is currently entangled in a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. The proxy war is depleting US and European military inventories, exposing the weakness and limitations of Western military industrial output, and through related economic and financial sanctions placed on Russia, inflicted what may be a fatal blow to the collective West’s economic and financial system.
While the US seeks to escalate in Ukraine, it is also openly preparing for war with China over Taiwan and the separatism the US is increasingly supporting there.
US policymakers have repeatedly claimed that “China” seeks war over Taiwan by 2025. In reality, it is the US desperate to provoke a conflict within the next several years, fearing that the gap between the US and China militarily and economically is soon to close before widening again, this time in China’s favor.
The US government and arms industry-funded policy think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a paper earlier this year titled, “The First Battle of the Next War: Wargaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan.” In it, CSIS argues:
China’s leaders have become increasingly strident about unifying Taiwan with the People’s Republic of China. Senior US officials and civilian experts alike have expressed concern about Chinese intentions and the possibility of conflict. Although Chinese plans are unclear, a military invasion is not out of the question and would constitute China’s most dangerous solution to its “Taiwan problem”; it has therefore become a focus of US national security discourse.
And by “a focus of US national security discourse,” CSIS is referring to both the open planning and actual military preparations underway for a potential war with China over Taiwan despite official US policy regarding Taiwan having already long-since solved China’s “Taiwan problem.”
It is unofficial US policy supporting separatism on Taiwan, part of a broader strategy to encircle and contain China, that is creating and increasing “the possibility of conflict.”
Just as the US is fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian, US policy papers reveal a similar strategy being prepared regarding Taiwan.
The CSIS paper admits that the cost of preserving Taiwan’s political autonomy would likely be vast levels of death and destruction including infrastructure and industry on the island of Taiwan.
The paper at times infers this is inevitable and owed to Chinese military actions, however, in other parts of the paper it’s admitted that the US itself would deliberately destroy Taiwan’s infrastructure in a bid to deny its use by the PRC and China’s armed forces.
The paper notes:
Ports and airfields enable the use of more varied ships and aircraft to accelerate the transport of troops ashore. The United States may attack these facilities to deny their use after Chinese capture.
Regarding war games CSIS conducted which were the subject of the paper, it concludes:
In most scenarios, the United States/Taiwan/Japan defeated a conventional amphibious invasion by China and maintained an autonomous Taiwan. However, this defense came at high cost. The United States and its allies lost dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and tens of thousands of servicemembers. Taiwan saw its economy devastated. Further, the high losses damaged the U.S. global position for many years.
The entire destruction of Taiwan for the sake of maintaining an “autonomous Taiwan” is a familiar theme throughout US foreign policy in general, but also a reoccuring theme regarding Taiwan specifically.
An October 2022 Bloomberg article titled, “Taiwan Tensions Spark New Round of US War-Gaming on Risk to TSMC,” would report:
Contingency planning for a potential assault on Taiwan has been stepped up after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to people familiar with the Biden administration’s deliberations. The scenarios attach heightened strategic significance to the island’s cutting-edge chip industry, led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. In the worst case, they say, the US would consider evacuating Taiwan’s highly skilled chip engineers.
The article also stated:
At the extreme end of the spectrum, some advocate the US make clear to China that it would destroy TSMC facilities if the island was occupied, in an attempt to deter military action or, ultimately, deprive Beijing of the production plants. Such a “scorched-earth strategy” scenario was raised in a paper by two academics that appeared in the November 2021 issue of the US Army War College Quarterly.
And while Washington continuously frames its interference in China’s internal political affairs as championing democracy and freedom, US planners have proposed the use of coercive export controls targeting Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, forcing it to migrate to the United States, transfer technology to American shores, and spend at least as much money in the US as it does on the island province of Taiwan.
It is all done in a bid to reduce and eventually eliminate dependency on Taiwan’s semiconductor industry and allow the US to begin developing a monopoly over associated technologies and processes involved in semiconductor manufacturing.
Bloomberg would report:
Taipei is feeling pressured by Washington on the chip front as attempts are also made to reduce Taiwan’s role in the global supply chain, effectively diminishing what President Tsai Ing-wen has called the island’s “Silicon Shield.”
The paradox was on show during Kamala Harris’s September visit to Asia. Hours before hailing Taiwan’s technological contributions to the “global good,” the vice president touted a new US bill authorizing $50 billion for semiconductor research and manufacturing in America.
“Our dependence on Taiwan for chips is, you know, cut substantially,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Sept. 29, when asked at an Atlantic Council event where she saw the US in 10 years. “It’s just like a new dawn.”
In essence, the US is stripping away anything of value from Taiwan that it can ahead of armed conflict US planners are fully aware will scour the surface of the island of all essential industry and infrastructure.
Any infrastructure or industry not destroyed in the fighting will be deliberately targeted by the United States for destruction to deny its use by China. Such plans have been developed to the extent that Taiwan’s administration has responded.
In a Gizmodo article titled, “Taiwan Official Explains With Extreme Calm Why the U.S. Doesn’t Need to Blow Up TSMC if China Invades,” it is reported that:
A recent Bloomberg report showed that the U.S. was drafting up contingency plans that could include evacuating Taiwan’s chip engineers and even considered hypotheticals of putting troops on the ground.
But one aspect of all the war games is the few war wonks who have advocated that the U.S. threaten to destroy TSMC facilities if China were to move in. A paper published in the Army War College Quarterly last year mentioned a “scorched-earth strategy that would render Taiwan not just unattractive… but positively costly to maintain.” Bloomberg cites one former Pentagon official who also advocated for Biden to come up with a plan to bomb TSMC.
Of course, those are just a few voices in a very crowded and loud room, but the old children’s sandbox rules of “if I can’t have it, then nobody can” have attracted enough attention that Taiwan’s military officials apparently made a response.
The article then cites Taiwan’s National Security Bureau Director-General Chen Ming-tong who claimed that even if China secured TSMC’s facilities, supply chain issues would make it impossible for the facilities to continue functioning. Whether this is true or not, the US would likely take a “better safe than sorry” approach and destroy the facilities anyway.
The entire purpose of provoking this conflict with China is explained by CSIS in their abovementioned paper:
…failure to occupy Taiwan might destabilize Chinese Communist Party rule.
The hope is not just to drag China into a highly destructive and costly military conflict, but also to undermine the political stability within China and perhaps even create conditions conducive with regime change in Beijing.
Additionally, an armed conflict the US triggers with China may create an opportunity for the US and its European and Australian partners to impose a global maritime shipping blockade of China. The US Marine Corps has been reconfigured as a fighting force specifically to target shipping and to potentially threaten or close down straits essential for maritime shipping.
Between now and 2025 represents Washington’s best opportunity to achieve these objectives, reducing or destroying China’s political and economic influence around the globe, and allowing the United States to reassert its long-standing primacy over Asia, a region thousands of miles from US shores.
Whatever the outcome, Washington’s immense and growing desire for war with China means the complete destruction of Taiwan, following the ongoing destruction of Ukraine in yet another US proxy war. Taiwan’s population and the administration in Taipei must look at Ukraine and ask what, if anything, will be worth leading Taiwan down the same path.
Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.