The U.S. reneges on its commitment to Taiwan question
A view of Taipei 101 in Taiwan, China, December 22, 2022. /CFP
A view of Taipei 101 in Taiwan, China, December 22, 2022. /CFP

A view of Taipei 101 in Taiwan, China, December 22, 2022. /CFP

Editor's note: Hamzah Rifaat Hussain, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a host for ThinkTech Hawaii. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 

The Joe Biden administration's decision to allow the deputy leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Lai Ching-te a "transit" to New York constitutes a provocation. It sheds light on a callous attitude from the United States on respecting Chinese state sovereignty despite repeated claims of upholding the one-China principle both publicly and as per its National Security Strategy.

Any official exchange between the DPP and Washington, however, contradicts previous assurances and it is important for the United States to change course on the Taiwan question for the smooth progression of bilateral relations.

Lai's arrival in New York and his subsequent departure to Paraguay to attend the inauguration of President Santiago Pena is both political and provocative. Firstly, his layover in New York has been used as a pretext to meet local immigrants from the Taiwan region.

Secondly, Lai stated that he was greeted by representatives of the American Institute in Taiwan, although any so-called diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the United States violates Chinese sovereignty, contradicts America's official stance of not recognizing Taiwan and constitutes a degradation of bilateral ties.

If one harks back to Lai's comments in July, then the provocative undertones of his visit become apparent. He stated that any visit to the White House would fulfill the political goals of Taiwan towards separatism, which is at odds with the U.S. policy of not allowing Taiwan's officials to make any official visit to the United States under its one-China principle since 1979. The political motives behind his stopover are precisely what prompted China's Ambassador to the United States, Xie Feng, to describe Lai as a "separatist" at the Aspen Security Forum of 2023.

People cross a zebra crossing in downtown Taipei, Taiwan, China, August 10, 2021. /CFP
People cross a zebra crossing in downtown Taipei, Taiwan, China, August 10, 2021. /CFP

People cross a zebra crossing in downtown Taipei, Taiwan, China, August 10, 2021. /CFP

According to Jude Blanchette from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Lai's comments were unhelpful and demonstrated his complete lack of understanding of foreign policy sensitivities.  His unabashed role in undermining Chinese sovereignty is precisely the reason why collusion between the United States and the DPP to arrange for Lai to conduct political activities on American soil is a violation of understandings including the three China-U.S. Joint Communiques of 1972, 1979 and 1982, which call for refraining from supporting Taiwanese separatism. Also, it is evidence of the Biden administration's connivance at supporting such tendencies.

Lai has already described himself as a "pragmatic worker" for "Taiwan independence." He is not interested in Taiwan's prosperity, which is linked with a joint vision for a collective future with the Chinese Mainland. By calling for military dialogue with Japan and sidestepping China, he is obsessed with promoting "make or break" foreign policy designs, which are detrimental to Asia-Pacific.  

During his New York transit, Lai stated that he will have confident exchanges with "like-minded countries." In truth, these are attempts to sow divisions in the international community and undermine the one-China principle, which the majority of UN member states adhere to.

Lai's activities also mirror his previous 2022 stopover in Los Angeles, where he met 17 U.S. lawmakers, which aptly prompted China to lodge a solemn representation with the U.S. government, demanding them to stop this erroneous practice of having official exchanges with Taiwan.

In 2023, Lai continues to pursue his malicious agenda, as he has constantly reinforced his pro-separatist credentials by claiming in January that Taiwan was an "independent" and "sovereign state." It is, hence, important for the United States to uphold its commitments and stop reneging on its commitments on the Taiwan question as stated clearly by the Chinese Consulate General in New York.

Unless and until these erroneous tours by Taiwan separatists to the United States cease, the Biden administration's sincerity towards amicable China-U.S. ties, a commitment to uphold Chinese sovereignty and adherence to the three Joint Communiques will remain questionable. The separatists in the DPP will continue to exploit opportunities provided by Washington to undermine Chinese sovereignty for their narrow parochial interests.

The inability to prevent such visits from taking place constitutes an attempt by the United States to renege on its commitment to the Taiwan question. As a result, China retains the right to forcefully respond to defend its interests.

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