Solidarity for Sovereignty By Ado Paglinawan
China’s response to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, is sensitively measured, appropriate and no other country can react adversely without acting as provocateur.
It is a grim signal to all trespassers against the One-China doctrine supported by 178 out of 193 members of the United Nations, that nobody can spit at Chinese sovereignty without getting a serious spanking.
In the case of the hegemon, the United States of America, it could very well augur the end of its world domination.
With the exception of concise diplomatic language, China did not spoil the Pelosi visit, consistent with Asian hospitality. But consequences on Taiwan before and after the unfortunate event, are proving deleterious to its goodwill in East Asia.
China started tightening the noose on Taiwan when it slapped a ban on 100 Taiwan brands. Last year, a sudden stop on imports of pineapples was followed by banning imports of wax and sugar apples.
While most fruits produced in Taiwan is consumed domestically, the vast majority of exports go to China. The targeting of agriculture is not coincidental, the fruit producing regions of Southern Taiwan are traditional bulwarks of political support for its incumbent President Tsai Ing-Wen’s Democratic Progressive Party that is pushing for the island’s formal independence.
20% of Taiwan’s total agricultural exports go to China.
The excuse that Taiwan is using too much fertilizers for agriculture has found a confluence in that its fish has been tested positive for coronavirus. Chinese customs has also blocked 2,000 out of 3,200 food items from fish, to tea to biscuits.
Exports to Taiwan of natural sand has also been halted, a serious blow for the island infrastructure building and maintenance.
The pattern might worsen eventually to include manufacturing products including semi-conductor and electronics.
A good 42.3% of Taiwan’s exports go to China growing last year at a rate of 24.8%. Twenty-six percent of this volume of $328 billion is on Taiwan’s favor for a surplus of $172 billion.
Much of China’s sanctions on Taiwan proceed after the Pelosi visit.
China has also entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zones, demanding that no foreign ships or aircraft is allowed inside.
The People’s Liberation Army has scheduled three days of live military drills in the seas around Taiwan from Thursday, August 4 until Sunday August 7.
This is effectively a blockade of the island’s air and sea space that has ominous long-term implications militarily as well as economically. China is showing not only the Americans, Chinese citizens, the world but most importantly the population of Taiwan, that it can isolate the island without even stepping on any part of it, much less drawing a drop of blood in war.
The One-China doctrine tells all that Taiwan is part of China, and send no signals of any doubt that it exercises sovereignty over it and anybody who wish to contest that will be dealt with accordingly.
This throws out of the window the United States policy of “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan, which is really just a self-serving jargon coming out of American exceptionalism that says it can do anything it wants on any part of the world.
On the other hand, China has adopted strategy that has nothing to do with Pelosi directly. The well-calculated move cannot justify a pretext to any escalation of Washington DC’s provocation of armed conflict.
China World said that Xi Jingpin “had exercised immense patience during the past four years of relentless US assaults and provocations. The hope was that at some point, the Americans would see that confronting Beijing was counterproductive and would cost them far more than working with it.”
On their fourth call months ago, Xi already told Joe Biden to his face that he was saying one thing and his government was doing the opposite. In their fifth call days ago, the Chinese president repeated the complaint.
Xi did not buy Biden’s words that he has not backed Speaker Pelosi’s visit, the first by such a senior US official in 25 years, instead admonishing his counterpart that China would hold the Biden administration responsible for any Pelosi visit.
This leads pundits to see forthcoming a fundamental change in Chinese relations with the US.
Global Times lays out the bottom line: “China’s strategic view is far greater than just playing a game of hawk-and-chicken with Pelosi on her so-called surprise visit to the island, as China will use this provocative move by the US to irreversibly change the Taiwan Straits situation and speed up the reunification process, which is actually much more important than a US politician’s visit.”
China World observes, “The Pelosi stunt was the last straw. From now on, China will no longer take seriously further US protestations about adhering to the one-China principle. Since the tenet has been the foundation stone of bilateral ties, Beijing will feel free to take any and all countermeasures, economic, diplomatic, geopolitical, going forward.”
Global Times went more graphic: “This risky move [of Pelosi] will totally change the situation in the region. The mainland will more actively dominate and speed up actions ensuring the US and the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities feel the pain.”
Experts say the Tsai regime will feel the noose tighten around its neck.
Expect military actions to erase “norms” that have long separated Taiwan and the mainland. These include flightpaths, maritime routes, zones of control, and various other protocols that will completely surround Taiwan.
All along, China wanted to deny the Americans a pretext to accuse it of “unprovoked” action against either Taipei or themselves. Washington had scored big propaganda points against the Russians in Ukraine with its disingenuous denunciations of “unprovoked invasion”, they added.
China World’s prognosis concludes, “By not taking the ‘Pelosi bait’, the world now can see clearly who the troublemaker is. As a result, China is free to respond to the provocation at a time and manner of its own choosing.”
Geopolitical analysts John Menadue and Hugh White are calling for a reassessment of Australian positioning in the light of fast-changing developments in East Asia and the Pacific, in the light of Dan Steinbock’s revelation of war games by Center for National Security (CNAS), the think-tank architect of the White House funded by Pentagon and Big Defense.
In the CNAS scenarios, Japan and Australia provide base access and contribute forces to the defense of Taiwan, while Philippines permits US forces to use bases on its territory. These countries becomes actors in the imagined US war against China.
The scenario shows that for three simulated attacks on the China mainland, the Peoples Liberation Army is expected to respond with eleven retaliations. Seven against Japan, one in the Philippines, two in Guam and one In Hawaii.
CNAS does not rule out limited use of nuclear weapons in the region, such as retaliation on Hawaii. Significantly, China’s Dong Feng Missile superiority has tested hypersonic capability that circumnavigated the earth while its InterContinental Ballistic Missiles can go farther than New York.
The Philippines would be the only ASEAN country to suffer the potentially devastating repercussions in the war games.
Hugh White is pessimistic about how can Australia navigate the tough and dangerous strategic environment in Asia today with America and China competing to be the leading regional power.
He said the consensus in Canberra – on both sides of politics – “is that we should stick as close as we can to America, in the hope it will win the contest. But the choice is not that simple. We can see why when we look at a couple of incidents on the same day last May (2022).”
In two separate locations, Chinese fighters intercepted Australian and Canadian maritime patrol aircraft in the Western Pacific. Both were undertaking routine surveillance operations in international waters close to Chinese-claimed territories.
White continues, “China has embarked on a new campaign to turn up the military pressure on America’s leadership in Asia by eroding the credibility of its regional strategic posture and alliances – and it would put Australia right in the firing line.”
In a separate article headlined “Our dangerous ally could drag us into war with China”, John Menadue asserts that the most likely way we could get into such war is if Australia “continue to act as a proxy or deputy sheriff for the US in the region.”
He said “The US is the most violent country in the world, addicted to a belief in its exceptionalism, grounded in aggression at home and abroad, and finding it hard to admit mistakes. Apart from brief isolationist periods, the US has been almost perpetually at war.”
Menadue continues, “The record is clear. Time and time again we have allowed ourselves to be drawn into the imperial wars of the United Kingdom and then the United States. We have forfeited our strategic autonomy. Over two centuries, the US has subverted and overthrown numerous governments. It has a military and business complex that depends on war for influence and enrichment.
“It funds our War Memorial and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and many other fronts for US military and business interests. Many of our political, bureaucratic, business and media elites have been on American drip feeds like the Australian America Leadership Dialogue for so long that they find it hard to think of the world without American global hegemony.”
The Australian writer concludes that the US assumes a moral superiority it denies to others. It is blinded by its own ideological delusions and self-righteousness:
“We had a similar and dependent view of the UK in the past. That ended in tears in Singapore.”
READ MORE: Solidarity for Sovereignty by Ado Paglinawan