A Chinese state-run media outlet has warned Washington that Beijing will not hesitate to strike US forces should they try to prevent China’s reunification with Taiwan, as promised recently by a top American official.
The Global Times picked up on National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s statement on Tuesday, in which he said that the US was “going to take every action that we can take, from the point of view of both deterrence and diplomacy” to prevent a scenario where China takes over Taiwan militarily. The message was echoed the same day by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who warned China that a military scenario vis-a-vis Taiwan would be a “very serious mistake.”
However, the Chinese outlet surmised that Sullivan’s assurances should not be construed as a “manifesto of US policy,” as the “US simply cannot build a deterrent to prevent the Chinese mainland from carrying out reunification by force when necessary.” The op-ed goes on to claim that Washington does not really have the “will to defend Taiwan at all costs.”
The article takes a yet more bellicose turn when it says it is “credible” that US troops, should they come to Taiwan’s rescue, would be “heavily attacked” by the People’s Liberation Army if “reunification by force” does happen. The Global Times predicts Sullivan would be likely to “recall or downplay” his statement later, since the “US cannot afford” to defend Taiwan “at the cost of a deadly war.”
The op-ed warns that “reunification by force will definitely happen” unless Washington convinces Taiwan authorities to accept the concept of ‘one country, two systems’ and engage with mainland China “on the path of peaceful reunification.”
The article blames Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which came to power in 2016, for the escalation, adding that the situation has possibly already gone beyond the point of no return.
The op-ed concludes by advising Sullivan to weigh his words carefully going forward and not to “have a big mouth,” lest he “create more embarrassment” for the US.
Beijing sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of China. However, the island considers itself independent since 1949, when the losing side in the Chinese civil war fled there as communist forces took over the mainland. While Taiwan is officially recognized by a little more than a dozen countries, it enjoys a strategic partnership with the US. Washington sells weapons to the island’s authorities and provides them with diplomatic support. Tensions between mainland China and Taiwan have been gradually escalating over the past few years, with Beijing staging massive military drills near the island.