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China’s Disposition on U.S Policy of Strategic Ambiguity in Taiwan; By Dhanya D

Updated: Nov 9, 2022


Image Courtesy: Brief


Article 45/2022

Strategic ambiguity is a cryptic word, which in itself is ambiguous in nature. US strategic ambiguity when it comes to Taiwan is an issue comprising of different factors and reasoning, not to escalate the tension and the uncertainty between the US and China which could manifest into a potential Cold War. [i]


To understand the latest developments of China’s aggressive stance of unifying Taiwan with the mainland and the US response to the matter, it is important to trace the history of the One-China policy.


US’ ‘One-China’ Policy

Source- The Economist


It is to be noted that the US does not agree to the PRC’s demands to recognize the former’s sovereignty over Taiwan, and at the same time doesn’t recognize ROC as an independent sovereign state.

The end of the Chinese civil war between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 saw the Nationalists Kuomintang (ROC) retreating to Taiwan. A major shift in recognizing PRC happened when the United Nations General Assembly voted on Resolution 2758 on October 25, 1971, which in part read “decides to restore all its rights to the People’s Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations.” [ii]

Although the US supported the Nationalists in the civil war, in 1979 US in a drastic change of stance gave legitimacy by recognising the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as “the sole legal Government of China.” [iii]


It is to be noted that the US does not agree to the PRC’s demands to recognize the former’s sovereignty over Taiwan, and at the same time doesn’t recognize ROC as an independent sovereign state.


In the meantime, the US also passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 which declares to support Taiwan’s peace and stability and promote friendly commercial and cultural relations. This act also declares to provide Taiwan with arms for defence. [iv]


The US also maintains unofficial diplomatic relations in Taipei through the American Institute in Taiwan which was established in 1979 [v] after the US changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.


China-US relations have deteriorated through the years and are in the midst of a trade war. One of the sore points in their bilateral relations in Taiwan. Over the years China has had objections over the US selling arms to Taiwan and has reported saying that it “undermined China’s security interests, seriously undermined China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” [vi]


In recent years from Trump’s administration to the current President Joe Biden’s administration, the “strategic ambiguity” is crossing its thin line because of its strong diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Biden’s comments on the US being ready to defend Taiwan, if China attacked stirred dissension. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hit back replying “No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will, and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and do not stand against the 1.4 billion Chinese people,” [vii]


Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022 happened in the backdrop of the Chinese government threatening to use military action against her visit. Pelosi’s visit reaffirmed the US commitment to defend Taiwan in case of PRC’s aggression toward the island state.

Source: The New York Times


Nancy Pelosi met human rights leaders in Taiwan and activists in Hong Kong and Tibet.[viii] China was enraged with the visit of Pelosi and has condemned the actions of the US calling the visit a “serious provocation” and accusing Washington of breaking the status quo and “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”[ix]


China has also launched military operations encircling Taiwan which are called the ‘danger zones’ where it is carrying out drills consisting of shooting, and missile launches which is a major security concern for Taipei.


Source: India Today


Xi’s reunification comments on Taiwan

President Xi Jinping at the 20th Communist Party Congress said, that solving Taiwan’s issue is nobody’s business but of China’s, and with the reunification of Taiwan, China will never renounce the right to use force. "We will adhere to striving for the prospect of a peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and greatest efforts, but will never commit to abandoning the use of force,"[x] he said. In the report he was presenting at the Congress in Beijing, Xi said the military aggression against Taiwan was to safeguard the country’s dignity and core interest and ensure its security.


The escalation after Nancy Pelosi’s visit created needless havoc in the region. The prediction of the PRC’s next move in the ‘reunification’ of Taiwan and the US’s response is bound to change the geopolitics in the impending years.


(Ms. Dhanya D is a Research Officer at C3S. The views expressed are those of the author and does not reflect the views of C3S.)


References

[i] (2022, February 24). What is the “Strategic Ambiguity” of the United States in relation to Taiwan and China. The Atlas Report. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://atlas-report.com/what-is-the-strategic-ambiguity-of-the-united-states-in-relation-to-taiwan-and-china/

[ii] Carter, J. (2020, October 28). When the PRC won the ‘China’ seat at the UN. The China Project. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://thechinaproject.com/2020/10/21/when-the-prc-won-the-china-seat-at-the-un/

[iii] What Is the U.S. “One China” Policy, and Why Does it Matter? (n.d.). Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.csis.org/analysis/what-us-one-china-policy-and-why-does-it-matter

[iv] H.R.2479 - 96th Congress (1979-1980): Taiwan Relations Act. (n.d.). Congress.gov | Library of Congress. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/96th-congress/house-bill/2479

[v] AIT – Taipei Main Office. (2022, May 13). American Institute in Taiwan. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.ait.org.tw/ait-taipei-main-office/

[vi] Chanda, A. B. E. P. S. I. (2022, February 21). China sanctions US firms over arms sale to Taiwan. Hindustan Times. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/china-sanctions-us-firms-over-arms-sales-to-taiwan-101645441461169.html

[vii] Meredith, S. (2022, July 8). Biden says U.S. willing to use force to defend Taiwan — prompting backlash from China. CNBC. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/23/biden-says-us-willing-to-use-force-to-defend-taiwan.html

[viii]Gravitas: After Pelosi’s visit, China punishes Taiwan | China begins “targeted military operations.” (2022, August 3). YouTube. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTmoUIdT4J8&feature=youtu.be

[ix] DAVID RISING Associated Press. (2022, August 19). China’s response to Pelosi visit a sign of future intentions. ABC News. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/chinas-response-pelosi-visit-sign-future-intentions-88579877

[x] Gautam, A. (2022, October 16). Xi Jinping’s Big Claim On Hong Kong, Taiwan At Key China Meet. NDTV.com. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/xi-jinping-says-full-control-over-hong-kong-achieved-determined-on-taiwan-at-key-china-meet-3435494

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