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US, Japan should be prudent on Taiwan question

By Zou Zhibo | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-20 07:28
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US President Joe Biden walks out of the Oval Office with Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ahead of a news conference at the White House in Washington on April 16, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

On April 16, the leaders of the United States and Japan met in Washington and issued a joint statement mentioning the Taiwan question, for the first time since 1969, in the latest sign of the two countries' attempts to undermine China's reunification.

Recently, the US and Japan have kept approaching the red line of supporting "Taiwan independence". The US government has allowed senior officials to visit Taiwan and supported the Taiwan authorities' participation in international organizations. A senior US official even referred to Taiwan as a "country", which he called a slip of tongue, to challenge China's bottom line.

The Japan-US joint statement of the Security Consultative Committee (2+2), which was issued on March 16, reproached China and proposed the issue of peace in the Taiwan Straits for the first time to blatantly stymie China's territorial unification. Moreover, on April 4, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga even claimed that Japan and the US will use "deterrent forces" to make Taiwan and the Chinese mainland address the question peacefully.

The US and Japan have gone further and further on the Taiwan question.

What are the intentions of the US and Japan, and are they ready to face the consequences of playing with fire? Clear understandings on the Taiwan question need to be developed based on facts.

Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. This is a fact that remains unquestioned. The "independence "of Taiwan is unacceptable for the Chinese government and people across the Straits. The attempt of any individual, force or country to instigate "Taiwan independence "will be wiped out.

The Chinese government and people will seek to achieve peaceful reunification with all-out efforts. Peaceful reunification and the use of force are both independent options for China that have nothing to do with other sides. But the possibility of the Chinese mainland turning to the use of force increases if the US and Japan step up interference.

Anti-China forces in the US and Japan, who have supported and emboldened Taiwan secessionists, use the Taiwan question as a bargaining chip to contain China's rise. However, any attempt to incite "Taiwan independence" will be prevented at any price.

The Chinese mainland will have to adopt the use of force once the US and Japan cross the red line.

The wrong choice of the US and Japan will lead to serious consequences. In terms of history, nationality and the international law with the Charter of the United Nations at the core, China's pursuit of national unity and territorial integrity is just and legitimate. Any attempt to intervene or separate the country is unjust, illegal and doomed to fail.

Regarding the Taiwan question, the game between China and US is asymmetrical. In terms of resolution, China will seek all means for reunification at any cost, as it concerns national unity and territorial integrity. The US sees Taiwan as only a chess piece for containing China. Which costs will the US plan to pay for Taiwan?

In terms of geographic relationship, Taiwan as well as the US military bases in the western Pacific-whether in Japan, the Republic of Korea or Guam-are all geographically closer to China than the US.With limited strategic depth, they are almost point targets and limited area targets, which means, if wars broke out, they are easily destroyed or hobbled. Even if the US sends aircraft carriers, China enjoys advantages of precision-guided weapons and combat capabilities due to the vast territory.

In terms of the resource allocation, economic power and endurance that are essential for a modern war, China with firm determination of the government and full support of the people has obvious advantages.

The above-mentioned analyses do not aim at heightening atmosphere of wars, but instead send a strong warning against and opposing wars caused by the Taiwan question. Such wars would bring disaster to all parties concerned, as well as East Asia and even the entire world. After two world wars, wars are firmly opposed by people across the globe.

If they discard the obsolete Cold War and zero-sum game mentalities, the US and Japan will see that the peaceful reunification of China is most in line with the interests of the US and Japan.

Peaceful reunification will ensure peace and development in East Asia and avoid confrontation and wars in this area. And a rising China, in light of the past decades' experience, will benefit countries in East Asia and other parts of the world, including Japan and the US.

Different policies and actions of the US and Japan on the Taiwan question will lead to completely different consequences. The two countries should be prudent in making the choice.

The author is deputy director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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