Chinese state media has hit out at the U.S. Senate after lawmakers passed a new act expressing its support for the independent island nation of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a wayward part of a unified China.
The latest U.S. move comes amid tensions over American support for anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong, China’s oppression of Muslim residents in the western province of Xinjiang, and President Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war.
The Senate’s TAIPEI Act, passed unanimously on Tuesday, directs the State Department to report to Congress periodically on American actions “to affirm and strengthen Taiwan’s international alliances around the world.”
It also authorizes the department to adjust U.S. diplomatic presence or the level of U.S. assistance in relevant nations.
Taiwan has long been a diplomatic obstacle between Washington and Beijing. Under its “one China” policy, the Communist Party has maintained the goal of reabsorbing the island, whether through diplomatic means or by force.
But U.S. lawmakers have consistently supported Taipei, also allowing U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan to bolster its defenses against potential Chinese attack. This has made the Taiwan Strait—a narrow waterway between Taiwan and mainland China—a prominent flashpoint.
Chinese state media was perturbed by the latest bill, arguing that the U.S. is increasingly irrelevant and should stay out of regional affairs—a common complaint of China’s government-run media organizations.
Global Times for example, which often carries the government’s most nationalistic sentiment, said the bill was “completely unreasonable” and demostrated the “self-righteous feelings and aspirations of many members of the U.S. Congress.”
The editorial said China “will certainly not take this act seriously,” despite the clear anger at its passage. “The situation in the Taiwan Straits has not been dominated by the U.S. attitude any more,” it added.
The editorial claimed that the U.S. ability to protect Taiwan is diminishing, and with it Washington’s influence to influence the Taiwan Straits. “Changes in the situation in the Taiwan Straits no longer depend on U.S. will,” it added.
Taiwan, Senate, China, US, support
Tanks fire during the 35th Han Kuang military drill in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung county on May 30, 2019.
China has been ploughing money into its armed forces, seeking to overturn U.S. hegemony in Asia. Taiwan is one of Beijing’s key strategic goals, along with control of the South China Sea.
While the Chinese forces have come on leaps and bounds, the U.S. is still the most powerful military in the world with unrivalled force projection.
Aware of its inferiority, the Chinese military has focused on weapons that it believes can level the playing field, for example anti-ship hypersonic missiles designed to destroy America’s fearsome aircraft carrier battle groups.
Taiwan has warned that China is increasing its military activity around the strait, and Beijing’s forces regularly train for a possible invasion of its democratic neighbor.
The Global Times editorial warned that if Taiwan should push the matter of independence—whether under its own volition or with U.S. pressure—the results could be “unbearable” for the island.
The article suggested that U.S. lawmakers are ultimately not willing to stand up for Taiwan, regardless of arms sales and diplomatic signalling. “No country in the world is willing to become a real enemy of China—including the U.S.,” the editorial argued.
“If Taiwan authorities insist on being hostile toward Beijing, it will lead to a catastrophe to themselves sooner or later. By then, even the U.S. won’t be able to save them.”