Beijing [China], April 17: China and the United States are playing “transit diplomacy” over Taiwan. Americans played it when the Taiwanese President made a fleeting visit to their country while China expresses its anger by launching military drills, reported Europe-Asia Foundation (EAF).
China has expressed anger over the meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. The US has not fully used the opportunity when Taiwan’s President made a visit to America and Washington officially downplayed Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the US.
The meeting held between Kevin McCarthy and Tsai Ing-wen at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library highlighted the strengthening ties between Taiwan and US. After the meeting, McCarthy in a press conference said, “I believe our bond is stronger now than at any time or point in my lifetime.”
He further said, “America’s support for the people of Taiwan will remain resolute, unwavering and bipartisan.” Meanwhile, Taiwan President Tsai said, “We’re stronger when we are together,” as per the EAF report.
She said, “In our efforts to protect our way of life, Taiwan is grateful to have the United States by our side.” Tsai said that the support of the US reassured the people of Taiwan that they are not isolated and alone.
The US acknowledges the “One-China” policy and also their stance that Taiwan is part of China, however, Washington never officially recognised Beijing’s claim over the island. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the US is also bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.
For Taiwan, the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy was a timely show of US support as China ramps up diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan, which claims part of its territory. In August last year, Tsai held a meeting with the then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her visit to Taiwan.
After Pelosi’s visit, China retaliated by launching large-scale military drills and firing missiles near Taiwan, pushing tensions to their highest in decades. This time around, China’s reaction was initially restrained. However, Beijing’s recent air exercises demonstrate that little has changed in its approach.
In order to avoid provoking China and triggering a military crisis, American and Taiwan officials have demonstrated Tsai’s visit as nothing out of the ordinary, citing an abundance of precedents for a Taiwan leader to transit through the US. However, the political significance of Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy is unavoidable.
China lost no time in initiating military drills near Taiwan. Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesperson said that Beijing will send planes, ships and personnel into the maritime region and airspace of the Taiwan Strait. However, China does not publically reveal its “parallel transit diplomacy.”
China mounted a “massive charm offensive” by inviting former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou to visit the mainland. During his visit to China, Ma Ying-jeou paid homage to his ancestors. It is the first time Taiwan’s former President has ever been invited to China since its founding in 1949.
During his tenure as Taiwan’s President between 2008 and 2016, Ma focused on establishing greater economic cooperation between Beijing and Taipei. The decision sparked protests that witnessed demonstrators occupying Taiwan’s legislature for weeks.