唐华 By Tang Hua
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 that was recently signed into law by US President Joe Biden not only rampantly hypes up “China threats”, but also, the second time after 2020, says “the naval forces of Taiwan should be invited to participate in the Rim of the Pacific exercise”.
The biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) is the largest-scale international joint maritime exercise in the world, which carries a strong political implication other than flexing muscles. When China and the US were on good terms, China was twice invited to participate in the RIMPAC in 2014 and 2016, but after bilateral ties deteriorated, Washington has kept Beijing out since 2018 for what it called the “militarization of the South China Sea”.
Since then, RIMPAC has become a stage on which the US performs the act of “using Taiwan to contain China”. The NDAA 2020 proposed to invite Taiwan to RIMPAC for the first time, but Washington dismissed the idea after weighing the pros and cons, and now it is harping on the same string again.
Technically, having Taiwan participate in RIMPAC doesn’t help its defense capabilities as the US claims. The RIMPAC 2020 had only 10 participating countries compared with 26 in 2018 because of the pandemic, the length was cut from more than a month to two weeks, and only basic exercise subjects were kept, such as artillery firing, maritime security operation, and humanitarian disaster relief and rescue. The massive scale-down of the exercise made it hard to foster any kind of military interoperability among the participants, and as the pandemic lingers on, there is a good chance that the RIMPAC this year will just go through the motions as it did in 2020.
Politically, if the US did invite Taiwan to the exercise, it would face inestimable geopolitical risks. The US expressly committed in the three China-US Joint Communiqués to maintaining only cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with Taiwan island on the premise of recognizing the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China. Inviting Taiwan to the RIMPAC exercise would be a despicable act of treachery that would undermine the political foundation for China-US ties and the important political consensus reached by the two countries.
More importantly, RIMPAC is a military exercise to which only sovereign states are invited. Any attempt to invite the Taiwan region to participate would seriously challenge the one-China principle and harm China’s core interests in national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that would definitely court strong countermeasures from the Chinese side.
Yet such a farce that is barely meaningful but risks armed conflicts has met enthusiastic welcome and acclaim from politicians in Washington and the Taiwan island. On the one hand, with the mid-term election nearing, the Biden administration urgently needs to cater to the extreme anti-China forces at home by playing the hardball against China. It could also rip off the Taiwan authorities by selling weapons and equipment to the island, which in turn would ingratiate itself with the behind-the-scene arms dealers. On the other hand, the Taiwan authorities could seize the opportunity to propagate “America’s staunch commitment to defending Taiwan”, the “unbreakable relation between America and Taiwan”, and “Taiwan’s elevated international standing”, in the attempt to deceive the Taiwan people, spread “Taiwan independence”, and rake in political interests.
While American and Taiwan politicians are colluding and conspiring for selfish political calculations, the Chinese mainland keeps in mind the overall interests of the Chinese nation. The peace and reunification across the Taiwan Strait concern China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and the wellbeing of people living on both sides of the strait. China will never make concessions on this question.
Therefore, no matter how many times the American and Taiwan politicians manipulate the Taiwan question, no matter how frequently they flex muscles, they will never shake China’s adamant resolve and stance on the Taiwan question. Rather, they would only find themselves being left with less and less leeway and finally ending up in a dead end, with their wretched plots and ploys smashed by the iron will of the Chinese government and people to achieve national reunification.
Editor's note: This article is originally published on china.com.cn, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.