FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Navy photo released by the U.S. Navy shows two U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commanders Robert J. Briggs and Richard D. Slay observing surface contact in the cockpit of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Muscatine April 4, 2021. The Chinese aircraft carrier USS Liaoning and its outboard number are visible in this photo.
The Biden administration has been in office for more than 100 days, and the new administration’s overt and strong support for Taiwan has surprised many observers, but has also drawn some criticism that it is “reckless and dangerous” and will shake the foundation of the “one-China policy” between the United States and China, increasing the risk of war in the Taiwan Strait. It would shake the foundation of the “one-China policy” between the United States and China and increase the risk of war in the Taiwan Strait. However, some experts say that the main factor driving the “weakening” of the “one-China policy” is China, and that the U.S. is not being “reckless,” but because the threat from China is so serious that the U.S. must combine more forces in order to defend itself. The U.S. is not “reckless,” but because the threat from China is so serious that the U.S. must combine more forces to counter it in self-defense, and Taiwan is part of those forces.
Since taking office, the Biden team has viewed China as a major competitor, and many of its policies not only continue the tone of the previous Trump administration, but also expand cooperation with allied partners to counter Beijing, including support for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly, criticism of China’s aggressive military coercion of Taiwan, and joint statements with Japan expressing concern for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The Biden administration’s high-profile support for Taiwan has surprised even Robert Sutter, a professor at George Washington University who was in charge of China intelligence research for the U.S. government.
One-China policy is weakening
Sutter said this week at a video roundtable discussion at George Washington University analyzing Biden’s policy toward Taiwan that, despite China’s opposition, Biden’s high-ranking officials are still giving Taiwan open and high-profile support in various aspects of security, diplomacy and economics, a practice that is actually a continuation of the Trump administration’s policy over the past four years, and past U.S. administrations since the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, which have always strictly implemented This approach is a continuation of the Trump administration’s policy over the past four years, which is very different from the “one-China policy” that has been strictly implemented by previous U.S. administrations since the establishment of diplomatic relations with China to avoid seriously provoking Beijing’s discontent.
“What I’ve seen is a weakening of the whole ‘one-China policy’ and a natural obsolescence of the strict interpretation of the ‘one-China policy,'” he said.
According to Sutter, there has been a significant change in the “determinants” of the U.S. “one-China policy,” driven by Beijing’s growing influence in Asia and around the world, an expansion that both the administration and Congress see as a serious challenge to the United States China is changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait in its favor through military, diplomatic and economic pressure, and U.S. policy will have to push back strongly to keep the status quo in place.
Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, also analyzed the military aspect, saying that the Biden administration’s support for Taiwan’s security has been “consistent with its words” so far, from Defense Secretary Austin and Deputy Secretary Hicks’ stated emphasis on security in the Taiwan Strait to actions such as four U.S. warship crossings of the Taiwan Strait. Although the Trump presidency has sold many arms to Taiwan, including 66 F-16V fighter jets, this traditional weapon does not help Taiwan’s defense capability in reality, because these fighter jets cannot be useful in amphibious operations.
He said what Taiwan needs is asymmetric capabilities, so he believes the content of the Biden administration’s arms sales to Taiwan will reveal the direction of U.S. policy in assisting Taiwan to improve its self-defense capabilities.
Is high-profile support for Taiwan a reckless and dangerous move?
Despite the unanimous consensus between the Biden administration and Congress on strong support for Taiwan, a recent opinion piece by New York Times columnist Peter Beinart criticized the Biden administration’s public support, including inviting Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Mei-Chin Hsiao, to President Biden’s inauguration for the first time since the U.S.-Taiwan diplomatic relations were severed and issuing a “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan. rock-solid” statements, is a “quiet, incremental” approach to establishing official relations with Taiwan, which is “truly, deeply reckless” and dangerous because it would shake up the long-standing U.S. The “one-China policy” would increase the risk of war in the Taiwan Strait.
Bennett said the U.S. has always adopted a policy of strategic ambiguity on the Taiwan Strait, but calls are now rising for the U.S. to give Taiwan a clear security commitment, whether or not it formally indicates it will assist Taiwan in a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, “if the U.S. believes it can provoke Beijing by cancelling the ‘one-China policy’ pact and at the same time deter it by threatening to use military force, that would be deeply reckless.”
Bennett said the threat requires strength and will, but according to Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria in an article in the journal Foreign Affairs early last year, the U.S. military has lost every one of the last 18 military chess exercises against the Taiwan situation to its hypothetical adversary, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
China’s threat is extremely serious
Voice of America asked Sutter and Grossman if they agreed with Bennett’s view.
Sutter said his view is that “the U.S. government believes it is doing fierce competition with China and faces challenges in all areas, including Taiwan. Yes, they’re going to do things, they’re fighting those challenges, and that’s going to lead to tensions, there’s no question about that. The question is, it’s not recklessness, it’s how do you defend yourself against that threat, and as I tried to point out, it’s an extremely serious threat to those who are making these kinds of policies.”
Precisely because the United States is now in a phase of intense competition with China, Sutter said, some policy nuances become a hindrance to trying to counteract that threat. His advice to the U.S. government is that because tensions in the Taiwan Strait are indeed seen by many as extremely dangerous, the United States should avoid any formal declaration of a change in Taiwan Strait policy and, for a long period in the future when the United States and China are likely to maintain a tense competitive relationship, “use a broad and flexible interpretation” of the U.S. “One-China policy” and continue to strengthen relations with Taiwan in the stable and incremental manner of recent years.
On the issue of the U.S. military’s loss to China in the chess match, Sutter said that in his experience as a former national intelligence officer, he always focused more on studying Chinese capabilities than U.S. ones. “We don’t know, and China doesn’t know. So to think that the U.S. can do anything just by looking at the immediate reports, that’s not going to happen! They’re doing all kinds of things, things that you wouldn’t even think of.”
The role of military chess deduction
RAND’s Grossman, also responding to a question from Voice of America, said RAND does a lot of wargaming exercises on a regular basis, and part of the reason for doing them is to think about how the U.S. military is going to deal with the difficult challenges that persist in the face of any adversary, not just China.
“So yes, many times the U.S. does lose in these wargames, but that’s because we get our adversaries to do specific things that they wouldn’t necessarily do. We’re often challenging the blue side, which is the U.S. military, to do better against the red side, which is the adversary.”
Nonetheless, Grossman said the fact on the horizon is that China’s military projection capabilities in the Taiwan Strait and elsewhere are increasing and improving dramatically, and that is something the U.S. must be concerned about.
As for whether U.S. security support for Taiwan is causing instability in the Taiwan Strait, Grossman, as China continues to challenge the bottom line in the Taiwan Strait and keeps increasing its coercion of Taiwan, there will naturally be a reaction on the part of the United States, and that reaction could go too far, a development that people must all be concerned about.
The United States will win a war with China
Moreover, does the United States overestimate the capabilities of China’s People’s Liberation Army? Grossman said he doesn’t think so because he has seen the PLA’s capabilities improve more dramatically over the last decade than they have over the last 20 years, “but that’s not to say that if we went to war today we would lose. I think we would still win, but it would be a lot bloodier than it was 10 years ago. That’s something we have to worry about.”
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed at a press conference at the two sessions in mid-March that the “one-China principle” is the political foundation of U.S.-China relations and “is a red line that cannot be crossed,” and that the Chinese government has “no room for compromise and no concessions” on the Taiwan issue. He asked the Biden administration to fully understand the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and to change the dangerous practice of the previous Trump administration of “crossing the line” and “playing with fire” on Taiwan-related issues.
Last September, David Stilwell, the Trump administration’s assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, clarified that Washington’s “one-China policy” is different from Beijing’s “one-China principle.
Last month, Biden administration State Department spokesman Ned Price said of the visit of U.S. Ambassador John Hennessey-Niland to Palau that Taiwan is an important economic and security partner of the United States, which is why the United States continues to engage with Taiwan under its long-standing “One China” policy. This is why the U.S. continues to engage with Taiwan under its long-standing “One China” policy, and in doing so considers opportunities for senior officials from both sides to visit Washington and Taipei.