Behind the Scenes of the US Delegation’s Visit to Taiwan

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While the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has continued, a step came from the United States of America (USA) to increase the tension between China and Taiwan. Including the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of American Congress Bob Menendez and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the six people delegations consisting of senators have visited Taipei aiming to support Taiwan. China’s reaction to this visit has not been delayed. During the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry declared that it opposes any official-formal contact between the United States and Taiwan. In addition, the ministry reminded the “One China” principle and the 3 joint declarations signed between the two countries should be implemented and demanded the United States cease official relations with Taiwan. Overmore, China held military exercises around the island during the US delegation’s visit.

United States Army general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley has also indicated that if China decided to invade Taiwan, “the United States can support Taiwan, just as it did to Ukraine.” Evaluating the background of the US delegation’s visit to the disputed region to the Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM), experts have underlined that the visit was a warning against China.

ANKASAM Asia-Pacific Expert Cenk Tamer: The United States is trying to provoke China over Taiwan’s independence.

Stating that the USA supports Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and the independence of the country, ANKASAM Asia Pacific Expert Cenk Tamer said: “The USA did not wish to draw the reaction of the Beijing administration for Taiwan’s independence for a long time. Washington has endeavoured to pursue a grey-strategy. Stated in other words, while accepting China’s ‘one China’ principle, the USA has carried out its support of Taiwan. In this sense, they declared that they would abide by the 1979 Taiwan Law. More importantly, the United States has also encouraged European countries to establish relations with Taiwan.”

The United States is trying to provoke China over Taiwan’s independence, Tamer adding that such independence would mean Washington’s victory over Beijing in the Asia-Pacific. “If Washington makes it clear it will defend Taiwan, the Chinese threat will increase and give the grounds for the invasion. Thus, China will take action in case the United States defends Taiwan. However, it appears that China did not fall into the game of the United States. Thus, Washington has not been able to pull China into war.” he assessed it.

Stressing that China’s major desire is to force the USA to make a move which has violates international law, Tamer said the United States’ aim is to ensure that states of the world recognize Taiwan’s independence. Lastly, Tamer indicated, “In the case of many states around the world recognising Taiwan’s independence, it will become difficult for China to send troops to the island, and perhaps impossible.”

Taiwan Institute for National Defense and Security Studies Researcher Chienyu Shih: China thinks that the US is using Taiwan as a pawn.

According to Chienyu Shih, a researcher at Taiwan’s National Institute for Defense and Security Studies, the US main goal is to harm China’s “One China” principle and to target Beijing’s interests. “Beijing believes that Washington has benefited from the Russia-Ukraine War. Accordingly, the United States uses Taiwan as a pawn to block Chinese assistance for Russia.” he made his commented.

The US delegation’s visit to Taiwan should be seen as a positive move on the part of the Washington administration’s firm and consistent support for Taipei, he said, adding that Taiwan is of strategic importance in the Eastern Pacific. Shih also dedicated that the visit was a reminder and a warning to China to not capture Taiwan by force.

The US delegation’s visit to Taiwan should be seen as a positive move on the part of the Washington administration’s firm and consistent support for Taipei, he said, adding that Taiwan is of strategic importance in the Eastern Pacific. Shih also told that the visit was a reminder and a warning to China not to capture Taiwan by force.

Retired Colonel Ferhan Oral: The visit was made with the aim of changing China’s attitude towards Russia.

Retired Colonel Ferhan Oral considers the US delegation’s visit to Taiwan a reflection of China’s concerns about its ability to use force against Taiwan, adding that the trip was part of China’s policy to change its passive attitude towards Russia as part of the war in Ukraine. However, he ruled out the possibility. “The visit can also be read as a manifestation of the US effort to continue the unipolar world order with its efforts to economically weaken the two rival poles (China and Russia) and break solidarity between both countries,” Oral said.

Oral, who examined the issue from a military perspective, said “The United States of America considers that it is not sufficient to balance China through the alliances (AUKUS-Australia, Britain, the United States Alliance), as well as through countries which it has co-operated in the field of defence, such as Japan and South Korea. In addition, “The United States will make an effort to deploy NATO as a non-resident, which will renew its Strategic Concept later in the year. Likewise, the post-Ukrainian War European security cannot be maintained without the United States, but it also notes expressions of support for strengthening the maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific, in the EU’s “Strategic Compass”, which was adopted last month by the Council on Foreign Relations.”

Retired Ambassador Dr. Ahmet Bülent Meriç: The USA promises to strengthen Taiwan’s asymmetrical fighting capabilities against Chinese intervention.

Retired Ambassador Ahmet Bülent Meriç stated that the USA deliver a message to China by sending a delegation to Taiwan saying Beijing should not support Russia on the Ukraine issue and contribute to the peaceful resolution of the war.

Meriç stated that China has included Taiwan in its military area with ballistic and cruise missiles within the scope of the “Anti Access/Area Denial-A2/AD” strategy, and therefore the possibility of the USA intervening in Taiwan has disappeared. He also said Beijing has constructed a military buildup near Taiwan.

Referring to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 and the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Development Initiative Act of 2019, Meriç indicated, “The USA guarantees the security of Taiwan with the laws called ‘Taipei Act’. However, the US’s security and defence commitment to Taiwan is very vaguely written in these laws. This ambiguity also benefits the United States, and diplomacy also takes advantage of this kind of situation. This provides a deterrent in a way. Therefore, with the visit of the US delegation to the region, this deterrent is being tried to be sustained. Shortly, the United States promises to strengthen Taiwan’s asymmetric (hybrid) combat capabilities against Chinese interference by this visit.” made his assessment.

Meriç also stated that the USA has developed a new strategy against China’s A2/AD strategy and within this scope, it has taken measures around Taiwan by placing the layered missile defense system in that region.

Journalist Mehmet Emre Öztürk: The visit could damage security and stability in the region.

Underlining that the USA has made many visits to Taiwan before, Journalist Mehmet Emre Öztürk emphasized that the senators in the delegation have taken a sharp stance against China. Öztürk said, “It should be considered that the regional visit carries steps that shake-up security and stability. The United States, which cannot officially recognize Taiwan, tends to conduct its diplomatic activities unofficially through the Taiwan American Institute. Such steps, which harm the principle of “One China”, increase the tension between China and the Taiwan administration. Every step the Tsai Ing-wen administration takes with the United States shows that tougher rhetoric is emerging in mainland China.”

By reminding the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has been held exercises in the air and sea zones around Taiwan Island in the face of the visit, Öztürk said that thanks to the “One China” principle adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1971, China has an important basis of legitimacy today. In this sense, Öztürk said that China opposes any political provocation that will come through Taiwan by any unofficial means.

Lisans eğitimini Gazi Üniversitesi İletişim Fakültesi'nde tamamlayan Sibel Mazrek, yüksek lisans eğitimine Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Lisansüstü Eğitim Enstitüsü'nde Gazetecilik Ana Bilim Dalı'nda devam etmektedir. Çeşitli medya kuruluşlarında muhabirlik, spikerlik sunuculuk görevlerini üstlenen Mazrek, ANKASAM'da Medya Koordinatörü olarak çalışmalarına devam etmektedir.