Tensions in the Taiwan Strait rose last weekend as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen used her National Day speech on Sunday to publicly reject Chinese President Xi Jinping's wishes for the island's peaceful reunification with China.
"There should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to Chinese pressure," Tsai said. Taiwan would "continue to bolster our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves," she said, adding that "nobody can force Taiwan to follow China's path."
An unusual show of armament, including tanks and missile systems mounted on trucks, was part of the National Day parade, reinforcing the militaristic threat to China. Fighter aircraft and helicopters flew over Tsai's head as he surveyed the parade.
Tsai stated that China's "one nation, two systems" approach, which would see Taiwan merged into China while maintaining its own economic and social order, "offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people."
Tsai and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) reject integration with mainland China, but they have not declared formal independence. Tsai, who refuses to believe that the island is a part of China, has taken advantage of Beijing's anti-democratic actions in Hong Kong to reject China's overtures.
The fact that Taiwan and China celebrate the same National Day, which commemorates the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in the 1911 revolution that formed the Chinese republic under Sun Yat-sen, demonstrates the artificial nature of Taiwan's separation from China's mainland.
Following the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) takeover of power in the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the defeated Kuomintang (KMT) led by Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan and created a ruthless military dictatorship with the help of the US Navy. For decades, the KMT in Taipei, backed by Washington, claimed to be China's legitimate government in exile, even holding China's seat on the United Nations Security Council.
That all changed in 1972, when US President Richard Nixon paid a visit to China, met with Mao Zedong, and formed a de facto alliance with China against the Soviet Union. The tour, which resulted in the joint Shanghai Communique, prepared the path for the US and China to establish full diplomatic ties in 1979.
The status of Taiwan, which China believed was part of its territory, was at the heart of the lengthy diplomatic talks. When the US broke diplomatic relations and its military alliance with Taipei in 1979, it recognized the "One China policy" in the Shanghai Communique, thus acknowledging Beijing as the legitimate government of all China, including Taiwan.
Tsai stated in her speech that the situation across the Taiwan Strait was "more complex and fluid than at any other time in the past 72 years." However, Washington and Taipei have primary responsibility for these dangerous tensions.
As part of its growing confrontation and military build-up against China, the Biden administration is rapidly destabilizing the 40-year status quo about Taiwan, following Trump's lead. Biden has approved high-level talks with Taiwanese officials and stated that the United States is "rock solid" in supporting Taiwan against China. At the same time, the United States has increased military sales to Taiwan and sent provocative US warships across the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from the Chinese mainland.
The US has sent special troops to Taiwan to train Taiwanese military forces, breaking all previous regulations. This is the first US military presence on the island since all American troops were withdrawn in 1979. Last week, the deployment of US military trainers to Taiwan was revealed by the Wall Street Journal, escalating tensions with China even further.
Tsai and the DPP have increased their opposition to any reunion with China due to Washington's support. While China has urged for dialogue and peaceful reunion, it has also stated that Taipei's official declaration of independence will be met with force. Beijing is concerned that the US may incorporate Taiwan, strategically placed only 160 kilometers from China's mainland at its closest point, into war plans against Beijing.
President Xi Jinping warned against Taiwanese independence and urged for cross-strait reunification as part of China's "national rejuvenation," reflecting his "dream" of converting the country into a significant global power. "It has never ended well for those who forget their ancestors, betray the motherland, or split the country," he said, implying a threat.
In reaction to US support for Taipei, China's military has boosted its activities near Taiwan. More military planes fly into Taiwan's self-declared Air Defense Identification Zone, which stretches over the Taiwan Strait. At the same time, two US aircraft carrier strike groups have been conducting drills in Taiwanese seas with British, Japanese, New Zealand, and Dutch warships.
The statements made by the Biden administration that they are sticking up for "democratic" Taiwan are entirely false. For decades, the United States backed the KMT dictatorship, which employed police state tactics to suppress opposition to its control violently. In reaction to a growing protest movement and workers' strikes in the late 1980s, the KMT only authorized more open elections, with the first direct presidential election in 1996.
Once again, US imperialism is using "human rights" to mask its predatory goals. After decades of criminal wars and occupations in the Middle East and Central Asia to shore up its strategic position, the United States has increasingly targeted China as the primary danger to its global domination during the last decade.
The US has waged an aggressive campaign to destroy China politically, economically, and strategically under Obama, Trump, and now Biden to submit it to American interests. By any means necessary, including military force, Washington is determined to prevent China from overtaking it as the world's second-largest economy.
The speed with which Taiwan, possibly Asia's most explosive flashpoint, has become a focal point for US-China tensions is a stark reminder of the hazards of war between the world's two most powerful economies, both of which are armed with nuclear weapons.