Mounting tensions between the United States and China are once again centering on the island of Taiwan, where China says the US is “playing with fire” after a recent visit by a cabinet-level official for the first time in over a generation.
US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited for Covid-19 talks, which would’ve been pretty easy to understand. China saw Azar’s visit to a shrine to Chiang Kai-Shek, however, as a much bigger issue. Though the US doesn’t formally recognize Taiwan, it does sell them arms. To that end, Taiwan says they are interested in buying some sea mines and cruise missiles for coastal defense. Such sales almost always lead to Chinese concerns, which lead to more interest in US arms.
All of this Taiwan tension usually happens in the background, but US-China tensions are getting so bad that almost everything is happening out in the open. To be clear, Beijing has every reason to be concerned about Washington’s deliberate policy of arming Taiwan to the teeth and counterproductive rivalry in the South China Sea. This cheery news for the US arms manufacturers and Pentagon generals neglects regional political dimensions, destabilizes the Taiwan Strait, brings trouble to the South China Sea, and heats up the arms race in a wider region.
As well, it calls into question the US’s “One-China Policy” that some 40 years ago rendered the much-needed rapprochement between Beijing and Washington. The US “acknowledges the Chinese position that there is, but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” Therefore, it makes no sense for Trump aides to use an outdated 1979 law as a pretext to flood the Chinese island with what they call “arms of a defensive character.”
Taiwan’s request is doing what it is intended to do. To act as an economic stimulus for bankrupt American arms companies amid the pandemic. They are desperate for the world’s top arms trader to manufacture a new threat and a new crisis in the strategic Taiwan Strait. This way they can sell as many weapons as possible amidst the bedlam and laugh all the way to the bank. Any doubters should ask the Arab littoral states of the Persian Gulf.
On this, the decision to encourage Taiwan to purchase American cruise missiles and sea mines missiles is a plot device for geopolitics and profits – just as the way it’s been happening in the Persian Gulf for decades. The War Party on the Capitol Hill is not at all interested in Middle Eastern peace and stability, because it’s not good for the US arms industry and moneymaking machine. It’s not good for its occupying troops and illegal naval bases, either.
As such, the Trump aides and war hawks in the Congress are at odds with international law. Despite being perplexed in global isolation and chaos, they present themselves as a force for stability not just in the Asia-Pacific region, but also in the Persian Gulf, while providing material support to destroy both their peace and security.
Under international law and the Charter of the United Nations, the Trumpsters know that they have no warrant to weaponize the Taiwan Strait. They also know this is very provocative to China. It will proliferate weapons and contribute to potential flashpoints everywhere. Washington needs to stop selling arms to the island and labelling it as a “close defense partner in US-Indo Pacific strategy.” This is just a rhetorical ruse.
Washington driving the waterway to the edge of instability by further sends warships and guided-missile destroyers to goad China on the pretext of “freedom of navigation operations.” Less publicized in the world, these provocative moves and other multi-domain engagements on the peripheries of China are intended to serve America's long-term strategic interests and future wars. They are not there to protect Taiwan or other countries form China’s peaceful rise. They are there to profit the pivot-to-Asia arms racketeers.
As they proceed down this path, expect the growing availability of US arms, military support, naval presence, trade war and other provocative moves to increase further tensions between the US and China in the maritime areas. This will provide no security for Taiwan but record profits for well-positioned American arms manufacturers as well as political gains for the War Party in Washington.
The US will never stop militarizing the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait as it’s good for business. It will continue to create more tensions and sell more arms to Taiwan in order to destabilize the Chinese territories and justify its counterproductive naval presence and manoeuvres.