Even as tensions ease, the US is still preparing for war with China over Taiwan — RT World News

While overt hostility no longer dominates mainstream discourse on the island, Washington is keenly preparing for confrontation

by Timur FomenkoPolitical analyst

2024 has been muted when it comes to US-China tensions so far. Despite the unpredictability of the looming US election, high policy in Washington has largely focused on Israel and Ukraine, and since Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in San Francisco, things have been relatively quiet between Washington and Beijing.

But that doesn't mean there's nothing going on beneath the surface. While the United States has avoided engaging in a high-level feud with China for now, Washington's ambition to contain Beijing, as well as prepare for a potential war on Taiwan, remains as firm as ever. Recently, it was reported that the United States has permanently deployed special forces to Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Island. It is said that they train local soldiers.

Kinmen is essentially the last area that can be considered “part of the mainland” and is still governed by Taiwan, officially known as the “Republic of China”. Located just 20 miles or so off the coast of Fujian Province, it is isolated from the island of Taiwan itself and later became the target of Chinese retaliation against Taipei over the years, especially during the Mao era. In an invasion scenario, Beijing would be expected to seize Kinmen Island first, making it a staging point and thus the first line of defence.

Although the United States formally committed in the three statements with China in 1972 not to station soldiers on the island, it gradually began to undermine its commitment to the One China policy by increasing military aid to Taipei in various forms, despite claiming that it would help it do so. “Does not support independence” In treatment. In doing so, the US strategy has been to claim that it supports the “status quo” and “opposes the use of force,” but nonetheless attempt to move the needle in Taiwan’s favor by preventing reunification from occurring on Beijing’s terms.

This has been made largely easier by the Democratic Progressive Party's repeated election wins in Taiwan, despite losing control of the island's legislature. However, China has insisted that reunification will be completed, by force if necessary, and aims to exert pressure on the island and strengthen its military presence and capabilities. The United States, in turn, moved to sell more and more weapons to Taipei, in an attempt to curb the change in the balance of power and to send the message that the invasion would come at high costs for China, even if it succeeded.

For the United States, the military risks of losing Taiwan are incredibly high. While US support for Taiwan is expressed in the typical ideological terms of “democracy,” the fate of the island will ultimately determine who is the dominant nation in the Asia-Pacific region. This is because Taiwan is an integral part of the “First Island Chain” that extends all the way from the islands of Japan to the South China Sea. Whoever controls the island of Taiwan therefore controls all the vital shipping lanes on the outskirts of China, and this would also crush Japan militarily, and for this precise reason Taiwan became Japan's first colonial possession in 1895.

In other words, if Taiwan is lost, the South China Sea will also be lost, so America's ability to project military power in this region and against China itself will also be severely reduced. The geopolitical impact of such an outcome is that Asia's neighbors would eventually resign themselves to accepting Chinese hegemony, with the role of the United States diminished, allowing Beijing to build its own regional subsystem as seen in the days of Imperial China. Thus, Taiwan itself has become a symbolic struggle over the future of the region and of course a question of “destiny” in relation to China’s rise and renaissance, as defined by Xi Jinping.

So, even though tensions between the United States and China are not as high now as they once were, the Taiwan issue will continue to fester with developments like these beneath the surface. We should not expect either side's position on this issue to change, especially when the most provocative, pro-independence president, William Lay, takes office. The United States may not engage in dramatic actions like Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island again, but it will continue to move incrementally to change the status quo in a way that prevents reunification and stifles China's ambitions, and Beijing will eventually be forced to respond to these threats. He thinks about how he might play himself, and worries about the consequences he might face.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of RT.

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