US-China relations moving in a “dangerous direction” over Taiwan, says China expert

SINGAPORE: A Chinese foreign policy expert has warned that the current United States administration’s apparent warming attitude towards Taiwan could cause US-China relations to become “very explosive”.
Professor Jia Qingguo, who is the Dean of Peking University’s School of International Studies, pointed out: “The Trump administration – well at least the (US) Congress – has been very aggressive in terms of pushing the Taiwan issue. So as far as I can see, the US policy on Taiwan is moving in a dangerous direction.”
On a scale of one to 10, he told the programme Conversation With, the danger levels “are near… (if) not crossing over five”. (Watch the episode here.)Prof Jia is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body to the Chinese government.In December 2016, Mr Donald Trump, who was then the US President-elect, took a controversial phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The call was the first contact in nearly four decades between a leader of Taiwan and an incumbent or incoming US President.It caused a diplomatic uproar in China, where some fear that Trump will roll back the longstanding “One China” policy which underpins US-China relations.
China sees the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day, and the “One China” policy is the US’ diplomatic acknowledgement of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.Adding fuel to the fire, Mr Trump signed into law two provocative bills that would forge closer ties between the US and Taiwan: The National Defense Authorization Act that allows for the possibility of mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the US; and the Taiwan Travel Act which paved the way for mutual visits by US and Taiwan officials.Prof Jia cautioned: “If (Trump) acts on these things – if he sends a warship to Taiwan’s harbour, if he sends a senior official to Taiwan – I think the Taiwan issue will be very explosive. The China-US relationship would enter into a kind of confrontation mode. I’m not bluffing.”THE RED LINEIn a pointed message to Taiwan in March, President Xi Jinping warned that “any actions and tricks to split China are doomed to failure and will meet with the people's condemnation and the punishment of history”.Beijing has also stepped up its campaign to assert Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan in recent months: It ordered foreign airlines and businesses to stop referring to Taiwan as a nation on their websites. Three US airlines have bowed to the Chinese government’s demands.In response, Taiwan’s President Tsai has defiantly declared that “no one can obliterate Taiwan’s existence”. Prof Jia noted that Taiwan “has been the most sensitive issue in the China-US relationship since the founding of the People’s Republic of China”.“This is an issue that no Chinese leader can take a step backwards. There is a red line there. So we hope that the (Trump) administration would understand and appreciate this,” he said.This interview was recorded on May 28, 2018. Watch the full interview on Conversation With here.
Source: CNA/yv
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