Opinion: 'Taiwan authorities playing with fire'
Guest commentary by Dr. John Gong
“Abandon illusions and prepare to fight!” 
That is the advice Mao Zedong gave to the Communist Party in a speech in August 1949, in response to the then Secretary of State, Dean Acheson’s report on US-China relations to President Truman. The report was aimed at absolving Washington of responsibility for the collapse of the KMT regime on the mainland, but also dashed any hope of developing any relations with the new republic founded a month later. 
After almost 70 years and arduous efforts of generations of statesmen on both sides, we are now witnessing an 800 billion US dollars trade flow of goods and services across the Pacific between the two largest and greatest economies in the world, in addition to sharing a range of common interests between the two countries from denuclearization of  the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to combating the climate change. 
Yet, such a critical relationship, in fact, the most important relationship of the 21st century, is now in danger of being put on Donald Trump’s mercantilist altar as a sacrifice. The sneaky signage of the Taiwan Travel Act on a Friday night appears to be just a tip of the iceberg of a potential wave of actions coming from the White House, not really meant to advance and protect the so-called “democracy” in Taiwan, but merely as a bargaining chip in Washington’s haggling over the trade imbalance issue with Beijing. 
US President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn towards the White House after arriving on Marine One in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. /VCG Photo

US President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn towards the White House after arriving on Marine One in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. /VCG Photo

But they are playing with fire. I would say to those China hawks in the White House, in the Senate, and in the Congress, who think that somehow it is possible to dance around America’s One-China policy, which, not coincidentally, has been upheld by every single administration since establishing diplomatic relations with China. Unlike the trade money on the table, the Taiwan issue is just not negotiable. 
Some political analysts argue that this Act only encourages more US official travels and contacts with the Taiwan authorities; it does not mandate it. And the administration does have some room to control its actual implementation without impairing the One-China policy. To refute this, I only need to remind them of how the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis was started, with the then Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui’s so-called unofficial visit to Cornell University. Back then, missiles were literally flying over the skies of Taipei. 
In 1949, Mao Zedong’s response to the Acheson report was swift and resolute. In a succession of five articles, he pointed out the “illusions some Chinese still harbored about the US, recounting the history and ultimate failure of American aggression against China, and dissecting the misperceptions, failures, and confusions plaguing American policy.” 
Today, this line of thinking still enjoys a broad audience in China’s various political factions, and Mao’s warning could easily be the rallying slogan against America’s ill-fated strategy, the calamity of which I wonder if is even within Washington strategists’ calculation. 
A night view of Kaohsiung, Taiwan on April 4, 2016. /VCG Photo

A night view of Kaohsiung, Taiwan on April 4, 2016. /VCG Photo

The famed China Lobby in the 1940s, composed of the offspring of many missionary families in China, was at least sincere and passionate about Chiang Kai-shek as a perceived symbol of American ideals in a land far away. Yet, today’s Taiwan Lobby, thanks to Taiwan authorities’ checkbook diplomacy in Washington DC, is merely a mercenary hodgepodge of people, from the far right to the far left, who have no real concerns over the well-being of the Taiwanese people, but who merely see it as a bargaining trip in its dealing with China. 
So to those who are still dreaming in Taiwan, I say the same: “Abandon illusions and prepare to fight!” 
The game of playing Washington against China is not going to go far. The more the US puts China into a corner, the more China puts Taiwan authorities into a hole. In the end, Taiwanese authorities are not likely to gain anything meaningful for its people. If one plays with fire, it will get fire. 
(Dr. John Gong is a research fellow at Charhar Institute and professor at the University of International Business and Economics. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.)