US-China tension could become confrontation as pressure builds in South China Sea, Taiwan Strait


The risk of confrontation between mainland China and the United States over Taiwan is likely to grow next year as the self-ruled island leans ever closer to Washington in a bid to counter Beijing’s rise, observers said.

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Speaking at a forum in Beijing, Chinese experts on military and diplomatic issues said they expected the South China Sea to continue to be the focus of the geopolitical conflict between China and the US, but that tensions could extend into the Taiwan Strait.

“There is a possibility that the United States will use tactics regarding Taiwan to counter China that it has never used since the establishment of China-US relations,” said Wu Xinbo, director of the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University.

“China has to think whether to take pre-emptive action to stop the US, or take measures after the US action.”

Beijing ‘steps up naval patrols’ in Taiwan Strait in pushback at US warships

The US navy has already sailed its ships through the Taiwan Strait, with the latest visit involving the USS Stockdale and USNS Pecos on November 28. Washington said the exercises were intended to demonstrate its commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Wang Hongguang, a retired lieutenant general and former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region – a now defunct military command of the People’s Liberation Army – said Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was keen to build closer ties with the US, and that Washington had passed acts calling for more official exchanges between the two sides.

Beijing needed to increase the pressure on Taiwan as China and the US were unlikely to find any common ground on the issue, he said.

“China has to be prepared. The US will only be become more determined on Taiwan if we do not deliver a strong response.”