26.09.2022 Author: Vladimir Platov

US Hard at Work Preparing Taiwan for War with China


The years leading up to World War I and World War II are often referred to by historians as “diplomatic fever,” because of active mobilization of several powers around the world in both overt and covert alliances. However, such activity was not aimed at preventing conflict, but solely at strengthening their position ahead of the impending war which was their goal all along.

Unfortunately, something similar can be seen in US behavior of late, both in terms of “joining forces” on Washington’s possible European battlefront against Russia, and in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) in confronting China. US recent policies and actions – on the eve of the Chinese Communist Party Congress – have been characterized by the creation of anti-Chinese blocs, unprecedented large-scale exercises in the APAC and close to Chinese borders, and various provocations.

After a provocative visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August, the situation around the island, as well as relations between China and the US in general, escalated. China, which considers the island one of its provinces, condemned the visit, seeing it as support by the United States for Taiwanese separatism.

In the interest of containing China, the White House is provoking tensions around the island of Taiwan, blatantly violating the One China principle, which the Americans once accepted as one of the main conditions for normalizing US-China relations. In pursuing the the anti-China strategy, during August alone four delegations with representatives from the US political establishment at various levels travelled to Taiwan. Apparently in coordination with Washington, a number of European Union political delegations also paid provocative visits to Taiwan and showed support for Beijing’s opponents on the island.

Simultaneously with the political anti-Beijing demarches, immediately after Nancy Pelosi’s visit, Chinese territorial waters in the Taiwan Strait began to be violated more frequently by US naval vessels under the pretext of freedom of navigation. On August 27, for example, two US naval vessels, the missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville, made a demonstrative and provocative passage through the Taiwan Strait, which the Chinese Foreign Ministry strongly opposed. To thwart any further provocation by the US, China’s Army has been put on high alert, according to Shi Yi, an official of the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). On August 28, Taiwan’s Armed Forces recorded the sighting of 23 PLA aircraft and eight PLA ships in sea and airspace near Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian commented on Washington’s provocation on August 29. “US naval vessels flying the flag of freedom of navigation are carrying out a show of force. This is not a commitment to freedom of navigation, but a provocation against it and deliberate harm to peace and stability in the region. The Chinese side again calls on the US to stop emasculating, diluting and perverting the One China principle, strictly respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries and basic international norms on non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and effectively implement the provisions of the three Chinese-US joint communiqués.”

Continuing to escalate the situation around Taiwan, US authorities in early September announced their intention to sell $1.1 billion worth of weapons and military equipment to Taiwan.

At the same time, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved a bill on September 14 that would provide for a comprehensive expansion of support to Taiwan, including military support. As well as imposing sanctions on Beijing under the pretext of seeking to preserve stability in the Asia-Pacific region, said the Committee’s senior Republican, Jim Risch, commenting on the vote. In essence, this initiative by US lawmakers seeks to revise US policy towards Taiwan and, by extension, mainland China. The bill would make Taiwan a “major non-NATO ally” of the United States, increasing its military aid (not just defensive but also offensive weapons, including missiles) to $4.5 billion over the next four years, making it the largest recipient after Israel, Egypt and Ukraine. China has already said that, if passed, the new bill would come as a shock to US-China relations. And China’s Ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, told Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in a meeting on August 23 that Chinese-US relations would be severed if the law went into effect.

Covering up his aggressive policy towards China with the alleged possibility of a Chinese “invasion” of Taiwan, US President Joe Biden assured in an interview with CBS that the US military would stand up to defend Taiwan.

However, by pushing China into military action, the US, Bloomberg estimates, could find itself in a terrible position in the event of a conflict with China within months or even weeks of the outbreak of hostilities. Pentagon arsenals are empty because of significant arms deliveries to Kiev. And China’s Army today is very technically equipped. Defending Taiwan will therefore be very costly, with the United States having to pay a prohibitive price in both personnel and equipment.

The US Navy is now poorly prepared, inferior in numbers to the Chinese, and US naval bases are underprepared, former US Navy Rear Admiral Charles Williams pointed out in an article for The Hill. Furthermore, the US can no longer act on two fronts; against Russia and China at the same time.

The Times also warns that the United States would suffer heavy losses and take years to recover from an open conflict with the PRC, citing analysis by the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. In particular, its analysts predict that the US will lose a significant portion of its fleet and some 900 combat aircraft defending Taiwan against China.

In confronting China, regional allies are unlikely to help the US, and even Germany, which intends, according to remarks made in early September by Inspector General of the Bundeswehr General Eberhard Zorn, to “increase its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region to contain China.”

Despite these provocative actions by Washington and Taipei’s push for military action, the PRC government has reaffirmed its determination to pursue national reunification with Taiwan. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning reiterated the other day that the Taiwan issue is strictly an internal Chinese matter and the US has no right to interfere in it.

Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.