18 Октября 2020 г. 19:22

Recognition of Taiwan's independence by the USA will trigger military conflict, China expert says

Recognition of Taiwan's independence by the USA will trigger military conflict, China expert says
Фото: straitstimes.com

On October 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited a military base in the south of the country, where he addressed the Marine Corps with the words “it is necessary to concentrate all thoughts and forces on preparing for war.” Shortly before that, the Chinese army held exercises the purpose of which, according to The Global Times, was a rehearsal of a capture of Taiwan. Meanwhile, the US continues to call for recognition of the island's independence. In addition, tensions remain on the India-China border in Ladakh. In an interview with Eurasia.Expert Zhiqun Zhu, professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University (USA), evaluated the chances of escalation along the Chinese borders and the policy that Washington would pursue in the region.

– Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the Chinese army to prepare for war. However the Chinese leader did not specify the would-be adversary. What lies behind this rhetoric?

– I don't think we should read too much into this. Xi's call is general, not for a specific purpose. Whenever Xi visits the military, he always calls on the Chinese military to be fully prepared for war and win the war. So his latest speech is not particularly surprising, and I do not think China is preparing for war now.

– Is the current situation caused by the coronavirus attractive for the outbreak of hostilities in Asia?

– Any war will be disastrous for both sides. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many countries feel frustrated now, with their economies declining, and some blame China for not fully disclosing the information early. On the other hand, China's diplomacy has become more assertive in recent years, so tensions are pretty high between China and several countries right now. But I don't think China or these countries want to fight. So war is unlikely in the near future.

– China is deeply concerned about the ever-growing calls from the United States to recognize Taiwan's independence. How likely is recognition scenario? Do you think the Americans are ready to go all the way on this issue?

– I don't think Americans are ready to go to war with China over Taiwan. There is not sufficient public support. Many Americans cannot distinguish between Taiwan and Thailand, and cannot even locate Taiwan on a map.

Yes, the US will continue to upgrade relations with Taiwan and sell weapons to Taiwan, and the US is obviously playing the “Taiwan card” in its rivalry with China. However, the US understands that formally recognizing Taiwan independence is a red line, so it is unlikely to do it.

– How, in your opinion, can China stop the US from calling for Taiwan's independence? Does China have any leverage over the United States?

– There is not much China can do if the US wants to expand relations with Taiwan. However, upgrading relations with Taiwan is different from formally establishing diplomatic relations. The US still follows the “One China” policy. Officially establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan will trigger a major military conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

– China has forever abandoned trilateral negotiations with Russia and the United States on arms control. Why doesn't China want to participate in these negotiations?

– From China's perspective, it does not make any sense at all when the US and Russian hold tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, and China only has a few hundreds, so why would China commit itself to nuclear arms control before the US and Russia drastically cut their nuclear arsenal first? If the US and Russia do not take measures to cut their nuclear weapons, there is no way China will participate in any talks with them.

– On October 12, Indian Defense Minister announced the opening of bridges in areas bordering China, including 8 each in Ladakh and the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian drew attention to India strengthening infrastructure and deploying troops in the Sino-Indian border areas. Could this lead to a new escalation of the conflict?

– China is often portrayed as the more aggressive party in the India-China border dispute, but Western media barely mention that India actually has been very assertive recently.

The recent construction of bridges on the Indian side is clear evidence that India is beefing up its military buildup along the border, escalating tensions. Hawkish remarks by Indian generals do not help the situation either. To reduce tensions, both sides need to step back and do something constructive to de-escalate tensions.

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