Xi warning on Taiwan

March 27, 2018 Asia , China , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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Tom Arms



The absolute red line for China is Taiwan. Not just the Chinese government but every Chinese man, woman and child in every city, town and village will tell you that Taiwan is part of China. It is a breakaway province and at some point in the – hopefully – not too distant future it will be reunited with the mainland.


Most countries more or less accept that that is the case and that eventually the two will be reunited. Only a handful still have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan.


Neither the US, Britain nor any European country has full diplomatic relations with Taiwan. They have representative trade offices which perform a behind the scenes political role, but that is as far as they will go. Up until January 1, 1979, the United States didn’t even recognise the People’s Republic of China as the representative of the Chinese people. That was the responsibility of the Nationalist Kuomintang government in Taiwan who fled to the island in 1949 after the Kuomintang-Chinese Communist civil war.


Since 1979 the West – and especially the US – has trod this diplomatic tightrope of two systems in one country. In the case of the US they have added the difficulty of a historic relationship which means that they provide military support and protection to Taiwan in order to keep the Mainland Chinese at bay.


The Chinese don’t like it, but they play a long game and are confident that time is on their side – as long as Taiwan does not do anything stupid such as relinquish their pretensions to represent all of China and declare themselves an independent, totally separate, state. Taiwan’s current president, Tsai Ing-wen leans heavily in that direction and has been lobbying for American support.


This past week President Trump made a giant step towards providing that support. He signed into law the US-Taiwan Travel Act which allows official visits between Taiwan from presidential level down. A presidential, or even, senior ministerial level exchange of visits by American or Taiwanese officials would be a de facto recognition of a separate Taiwanese state.


This is why Beijing’s President Xi Jinping is angry. His anger is quite likely to spill over into Chinese attitudes towards, Korea, tariffs, trade, rearmament, Japan, the South China Sea and the East China Sea.





Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected].

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