Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
January 6, 2023
As if the US proxy war with Russia in Ukraine is not good enough, the US is hyping another proxy war in Taiwan with China. It only shows that the Biden administration has not been able to develop any comprehensive China strategy to co-exist with China. Certainly, China is a major challenge to the US, but it is also the largest trading partner. How to move forward without military conflict has been a challenge to every US administration in the past decade. But is a war between the US and China inevitable?
The Trump administration from 2016-2020 was a historical failure around the world. But Biden administration, after two years, has not been able to move away from Trump’s trade policy against the world. More so, Biden administration has approved more military equipment sale to Taiwan, unfortunately much has already been paid by Taiwan but not delivered yet. The sale is promoted by the immense and immediate threat of China will invade Taiwan at any moment.
However, China has not shown any desire of imminently attacking Taiwan, because Taipei has not challenged China’s red line by declaring she is an independent state. Rather, Taipei now has softened her political stance and asks for peace talks with Beijing.
So, it is puzzling that only the US, and her allies, are talking about war over Taiwan. Instead of hoping “war over Taiwan can be prevented,” the US should focus on managing peaceful resolutions between Beijing and Taipei. By aggressively militarizing Taiwan with US weaponry, paid for by the people of Taiwan, clearly shows that the US is nothing but a global arm dealer with no interest in peace.
In fact, fostering peace is much easier than encouraging others to go to war. It will require “hard work,” but no need to coordinate with any ally, because everyone wants peace.
Biden’s national security adviser is hopeful war over Taiwan can be prevented
January 6, 20235:02 AM ET
NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviews U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5, 2023.
Tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan have raised the prospect of a potential military conflict, but national security adviser Jake Sullivan believes such a scenario can be avoided.
“There is a risk of conflict with respect to Taiwan, but I believe that with responsible stewardship, we can ensure that this contingency never comes to pass. And that is our responsibility,” he told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in an exclusive interview.
Sullivan, however, acknowledged that achieving this objective will require “hard work” and “coordination with allies.”
“It will require us following through on the commitments of the Taiwan Relations Act, which for 40 years now has said we will provide defensive articles to Taiwan. And it will require direct diplomacy with the [People’s Republic of China],” he said. “We have to make this a priority to ensure there is not a war over the Taiwan Strait.”
On December 23, China urged the U.S. to stop testing Beijing’s “red line” on Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.
“The U.S. must take seriously China’s legitimate concerns, stop containing and suppressing China’s development, and particularly stop using salami tactics to constantly challenge China’s red line,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping raised the issue of Taiwan with President Biden during their meeting at the G20 summit in Bali in November 2022. He reiterated that the Taiwan question was the “very core of China’s core interests” and the “first red line” in bilateral ties.
Sullivan’s comments about Taiwan are part of an interview that touched on a number of other national security concerns, including semiconductors, Ukraine and the Middle East.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On what a potential airstrike on Taiwan would mean
I don’t want to get into hypotheticals about what a particular military contingency would look like. But I will say this. When we entered office, more than 90% of the most advanced semiconductors were produced in Taiwan. The remaining percentage were produced in [Republic of Korea]. 0% percent were produced in the United States.
We still rely on importing those chips from Taiwan and from ROK, and we are going to have to build those fabs and create that leading edge manufacturing here in America again. You can’t do that overnight. But we believe we are on a pathway to do that. And that month by month, the U.S. supply chain is becoming more secure.
On the meeting between Biden and Xi
I believe that the meeting between the two presidents in Bali did in fact place a floor under the relationship. It provided some greater stability and a direction to teams both in Beijing and in Washington to work on issues where it is in our common interest to make progress. For example, there is no reason that the United States and China, as the world’s two largest emitters of carbon, that we cannot find a way to work together to reduce overall carbon emissions in the world and contribute to solving the climate crisis.
That does not erase the fact that we have fundamental differences and different disagreements with the PRC, and we are not going to be shy about those, whether it’s speaking out on human rights, whether it is pushing back against provocative actions around Taiwan, whether it is the ways in which the PRC acts in an intimidating and coercive way against its neighbors.
On the tech competition between the U.S. and China
Semiconductors, as many people have now learned, actually just since the COVID-19 pandemic, are fundamental to the powering of our economy across the board, whether it’s our cars or our appliances or any of our high tech products, our iPhones, computers and so forth. Semiconductors are also central to military power. It is semiconductors that that power the guidance systems for advanced missiles, it is semiconductors that are in every part of a nuclear submarine.
The United States has done is two things in the last two years. First, we’ve said we are going to invest once again in the United States of America being a manufacturing powerhouse for semiconductors. […] Second, we’ve said we are no longer going to allow the most advanced chips which are designed in the United States to be used in the weapons systems of countries that are our strategic competitors, like the PRC.
White House hopeful war with China over Taiwan ‘never comes to pass’: report
Fri, January 6, 2023 at 6:14 AM PST
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday that he believes a war with China over Taiwan can be avoided even as tensions over the island remain high.
Tense relations with China peaked in August 2022 after then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited the island to show solidarity with Taipei, despite threats from Beijing that the visit would prompt “very serious developments and consequences.”
China viewed the visit as “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs” and responded by immediately ramping up aggressive military drills near the island in the days after her trip, as well as in the months since.
“There is a risk of conflict with respect to Taiwan, but I believe that with responsible stewardship, we can ensure that this contingency never comes to pass. And that is our responsibility,” Sullivan said in an interview with NPR.
The White House refused to condemn Pelosi’s visit and maintained that members of Congress are allowed to keep their own schedules.
However, Sullivan noted that preventing war with China will be “hard work” and said it will take “coordination with allies.”
On Thursday, Beijing once again levied these accusations at the U.S. Navy after a guided missile destroyer passed through the Taiwan Strait in what the Navy described as routine activity.
“Chung-Hoon’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows,” the Navy said in a statement.
“U.S. warships frequently flex muscles in the name of exercising freedom of navigation. This is not about keeping the region free and open,” spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington Liu Pengyu said in a statement to Reuters.
Liu called on the U.S. to “immediately stop provoking troubles, escalating tensions and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
The U.S. Navy maintains it is allowed to operate in the Strait under international law and said it “is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State.”
It eventually comes down to who is willing to die for their national sovereignty, and who is will to die to defend another person’s democracy. Time will tell.