Opinion| Will the US’ provocations succeed in luring China into Russia’s trap?

Marwa El- Shinawy
6 Min Read

In a public and direct reaction to Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the imposition of sanctions on Pelosi.

“Pelosi visited Taiwan despite China’s concerns and protests, and severely interfered in China’s domestic politics, thus seriously undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with her visit to Taiwan,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement noted that Pelosi dealt a “severe blow” to the One China Principle, which endangers peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The statement also described such actions as provocative, stressing that “based on the legislation of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese side decided to impose sanctions on Pelosi and her close family members after her provocative actions.” 

Beijing also responded to this visit militarily by holding unprecedented large-scale military exercises around the island, even launching live ballistic missiles, some of which could have fallen in the region.

On 5 August, Beijing also announced the suspension of cooperation with the US in several areas, including dialogue between senior military leaders on defence issues related to several files.

The Chinese foreign ministry also stated that Beijing will “suspend Sino-US talks on climate change,” as well as cooperation in preventing cross-border crime and extraditing illegal immigrants. Moreover, it cancelled several defence and security meetings with the US, denouncing Pelosi’s “disregard” for China’s strong opposition to her visit to Taiwan.

This was the first time a US house speaker has been to Taiwan since 1997.

For its part, the US administration assured Beijing in the same contradictory way as usual of its commitment to the One China Policy and distanced itself from Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, saying that the speaker makes her own decisions.

The US administration also issued a similar statement on 22 October, when US President Joe Biden confirmed in one of his “heroic” statements that the US would defend Taiwan militarily if China launched an attack on the island, which it considers an integral part of its territory.

Biden’s comments drew swift condemnation from Beijing, which declared that there was no room for China to make concessions on the Taiwan issue. To avoid the crisis, White House officials announced that they retracted the president’s statements in the following days, explaining that Biden had not announced any changes in Washington’s long-established policy on Taiwan, which includes recognition of the One China Principle.

Despite all these provocative actions on the part of the American side and the contradictory statements that followed, actual American policies over the past four decades have been based on maintaining the current status of Taiwan as a separate entity from China, defending and providing it with the necessary weapons to be a sovereign state, and providing promises to intervene militarily if China seeks to change the status quo in non-peaceful ways.

Washington has also embarked on adopting more assertive military and defence policies by strengthening its military capabilities in Southeast Asia, establishing defence alliances with the countries of the Indo-Pacific, the latest of which was the formation of the AUKUS Alliance with Canberra and London, as well as reviving the quadruple security dialogue with Japan, India, and Australia.

More importantly, according to recent reports, belief among US officials has grown recently that the Chinese army’s escalation in the pace and intensity of its military manoeuvres near the Taiwan border is only the beginning of the direct invasion of Taiwan based on China’s unitary intent.

Consequently, Congress announced the granting of conditional authority to the president to use military force in response to Chinese aggression against Taiwan.

By all means, all these measures on the US’ part do not mean that it adheres to the One China Principle.

The question that arises strongly on the political scene now is whether the US will engage in an actual war with China over Taiwan as confirmed by Biden’s statements and Pelosi’s provocative actions, or will it repeat the same Ukrainian-Russian War scenario by provoking China to invade Taiwan; after which, the US will renege on its promises to Taiwan in the same way it reneged on its promises to Ukraine.

All this is to use the sanctions weapon to surround China economically and control it as a competing economic power and mobilise the international community against China as an occupying power trying to control a hostile people, as it is currently doing with Russia.

Obviously, the attempts of the US to stay on top as the sole hegemon and to undermine both Russia and China continue unabated.

Therefore, it is clear that after the US succeeded in dragging Russia into the vortex of the Ukrainian war and surrounded it with sanctions to undermine its rise on the world stage by provocation, it is now trying to repeat the same scenario in a similar way with China.

So far, the Chinese side is still managing the battle calmly and wisely, so will the US succeed in provoking China?

* Marwa Al-Shinawy is an Assistant Professor at the International American University for Specialised Studies (IAUS)

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