Beijing apparently wants to risk a military conflict with the United States over Taiwan. The Chinese ambassador lashed out at Washington and Taipei over a meeting between Kamala Harris and the Taiwanese vice president in Honduras.
China has again warned the United States not to hold official meetings with senior Taiwan government officials, marking a fresh escalation in tensions around the self-governing island, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province. Beijing made its latest complaint after Taiwan Vice President Lai Ching-te said a brief during a trip to Honduras informal conversation with US Vice President Kamala Harris and held a virtual meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a stopover in the United States. The meetings came shortly after China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed 52 military aircraft to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) last week as tensions between Russia and Western-backed Ukraine escalated.
The Chinese Ambassador to the USA, Qin Gang, explained in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) that China and the US could get into a “military conflict” over the future of Taiwan, which the top envoy called the “biggest powder keg” between the two countries. “If the Taiwanese authorities, encouraged by the US, continue down the path to independence, it will most likely draw China and the US, the two big countries, into a military conflict.”, Qin told NPR on Jan. 28.
Analysts said Qin’s testimony was unusually direct given China’s history of speaking more generally, such as warning “that the US shouldn’t play with fire.” As tensions between Russia and Ukraine mounted over the past week, forcing the US to send troops to Eastern Europe, there was speculation that the PLA could launch an attack on Taiwan at the same time as a Russian invasion, leaving the US with a two-front war. The PLA sent deployed 39 warplanes around Taiwan on Jan. 23 and deployed 13 more, including for the first time two J-16D electronic warfare jets, to the island’s ADIZ the following day.
Military commentator Song Zhongping said, the PLA not only wants to demonstrate its air superiority in a possible war with Taiwan, but also that it has a head start in electronic warfare. Although Russia and the US are still negotiating over Ukraine, most commentators think the potential for armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait is still low, especially at a time when Beijing is gearing up for the Winter Olympics , which begin on Friday.
On January 28, US Vice President Harris and her Taiwanese counterpart Lai were seen speaking during the inauguration ceremony of Honduras’ new head of state, according to a source made available by the Office of the President in Taiwan Photo emerges. Harris later explained to the media that Lai approached her and the half-minute conversation with him was “brief” and revolved around a “common interest” in Central America. She said they didn’t talk about China. “The brief conversation we had was really about a shared interest in this part of the region and apparently Taiwan’s interest in our root-cause strategy as well,” Harris said. Harris said she had no official meetings with Lai. Were on Harris’ Facebook page on a picture with Harris only seeing Lai’s hands at the event.
Lai said he thanked Harris during the brief call for the US government’s support for the democratic island, according to Taiwanese media, which hailed the public exchange at an international venue as a “diplomatic breakthrough.” He said he doesn’t mind not being featured in the US’s official images, as it’s something Taiwan can’t control. Huang Kwei-Bo, associate professor of diplomacy at National ChengChi University, said Harris’ image was manipulated after Lai was deleted, which the US had to do under the One China principle. “Taiwan is just one province of China. How come it has a vice president?” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian last Fridaywhen questioned by international media about the informal conversation between the two.
Zhao said China has always been opposed to any form of official interaction between the US and Taiwan. He also said Lai has given “Taiwanese secession speeches,” one of Beijing’s red lines, on many occasions in the past. Zhao urged the US to adhere to the One China principle and the three joint China-US communiqués. He also said the US should take China’s stance and concerns seriously and stop any form of interaction with the island’s government or send false signals regarding “Taiwan independence.”
support of Washington
On Sunday, Lai told the media that he spoke with Pelosi in a 30-minute virtual conference while transiting through San Francisco, United States. He said they discussed security and economic issues, as well as China, during the online meeting. According to Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s ambassador to the United States, during the virtual meeting, Pelosi expressed her concerns about the status and security of the Taiwan Strait and human rights in China. Meanwhile, Pelosi supported Taiwan’s membership in international organizations, notably the World Health Organization (WHO), and said she had personally expressed her belief that Taiwan should be allowed to join the global health organization to the Secretary-General of WHO Taiwanese media reports.
Ahead of Lai’s visit to Honduras, Taiwanese media reported Jan. 25 that ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has voiced potential presidential ambitions in the past, may visit Taiwan for the International Security Forum in Halifax in March. In January 2021, Pompeo had planned to visit Taiwan while he was still in charge of the US State Department. However, this trip was canceled due to pressure from Beijing. In April last year tweeted Pompeo a picture of himself “enjoying some dried Taiwanese pineapples.”