CORRESPONDENT IN BEIJING
For the first time, the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, has recognized the US military presence on this island claimed by China, which will further fuel tension with the Beijing regime. In an interview with CNN, the first granted to an international television in almost two years, Tsai confirms the news about it published earlier this month and assures that “we have a wide range of cooperation with the US on increasing our defensive capacity”. But he does not answer how many US soldiers there are on the island training the Taiwanese troops and simply says, with a half smile, that “not as many as people think.”
According to CNN and other previous information, there would be only about twenty or thirty and, in addition, they would be on the island to protect the US diplomatic legation. But regardless of their numbers, their presence is seen by China as a provocation and an “invasion” because it claims its sovereignty over Taiwan. Although this island of 23 million people has been separated from the mainland since the end of the civil war in 1949 and is a ‘de facto’ independent country, Beijing has set out to reunify it, even by force.
Within its rise as a military superpower and its maritime expansion, China has raised the pressure on Taiwan since Tsai came to power in 2016 with his sovereign speech, very different from the rapprochement advocated by the previous Kuomintang Government (KMT). In his view, “the threat from China is increasing every day” because “the situation has changed a lot (since 2016) and Beijing’s plan for the region is very different.”
In addition to having territorial disputes with Japan and expanding into the South China Sea, Beijing’s “capicommunist” regime is targeting Taiwan. During the first five days of this month, coinciding with the holidays of your National Day, China sent 150 fighter jets over its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIF). A show of force that led the Taiwanese Defense Minister to warn that “the tension in the Strait of Formosa was the worst in the last 40 years.”
Just 180 kilometers from mainland China (130 in its shortest stretch), this area is one of the hottest on the planet because, if Beijing attacks,The US is bound to defend the island by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. Although only a year earlier, Washington had exchanged its diplomatic relations with Taipei for Beijing, it remains the island’s main ally and arms supplier.
In the event of a Chinese invasion, the US is “committed” to coming to the aid of Taiwan, as President Biden recalled last week. As the White House later clarified that had not changed his policy of “strategic ambiguity”, his words ended up causing more confusion than confidence. Despite these “different interpretations of what President Biden said” about Washington’s military support for Taiwan, Tsai made it clear that “I have faith, given the long relationship we have with the US and also the support of your people, your Congress and this Administration have been very helpful. “
Asked if she is interested in speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Tsai replied that “more communication would be helpful. This will reduce misunderstandings. Given our differences in political systems, we can sit down and talk about them to reach agreements that allow us to coexist peacefully. But the increasing distance that separates the two China in the Strait of Formosa threatens to drag the US and unleash World War III.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism