Key Question: Would Beijing really do it?
A number of events and trends are coming together now to drive Taiwan, and with it the whole Asia-Pacific region, to the edge of disaster. These include the recent election for Taiwan’s leadership, the unrest in Hong Kong, China’s increasing military might, and the downward spiral of contemporary U.S.-China relations. For sure, Taiwan has been at or near the center of U.S-China relations for the last seventy years, so at one level, there is nothing particularly new here.
Yet, before U.S. leaders dismiss this warning into a heap of other global calamities, they should briefly peruse the words below from an unsigned Chinese editorial in the December 25, 2019 edition of Global Times: “The United States as a whole must understand that although Taiwan is the easiest place to provoke Mainland China, it is also the place where the U.S. is most at risk. It is precisely that China has the most real cards against the U.S. provocation in the Taiwan Strait region, and China has the strongest will and capability to defend the core interests of the country [美方作为整体必须了解，台湾虽是最容易挑衅、刺激中国大陆的地方，但也是对美方来说风险最大的地方。中国在台海地区反制美方挑衅的实牌恰恰也是最多的，而且中国在这里捍卫国家核心利益的意志和能力都是最强的].” The editorial continues, “This is not a joke. Mainland China has so far exercised restraint in the Taiwan Strait region and has not meddled in some of America’s vulnerabilities across the world [这可不是开玩笑的，中国大陆迄今在台海地区很克制，在国际上也没有在美国的一些脆弱点找麻烦].” It concludes, “We hope the U.S. Congress is not acting as a prelude to a future U.S.-China crisis. To be honest, we don’t think that the U.S. is ready for a Sino-U.S. crisis related to Taiwan, and we don’t think the DPP authorities are ready for it [希望美国国会不是在弹中美一场未来危机的前奏。实话说，我们不认为美方对迎接一场与台湾相关的中美危机做好了准备].” Merry Christmas? Not so much. Fighting words or a brash bluff?