The Taiwan issue has complicated the US-China relationship. By maintaining a robust arms sales program, the United States has consistently supported Taiwan diplomatically and militarily. The U.S. has recently approved a potential sale of $619 million for weapons to Taiwan which also includes missiles for F-16 fleet. As a response, on 3rd March, 2023, the Chinese military spokesperson said in a statement “We demand that the U.S. to stop selling arms to Taiwan, stop military contact with Taiwan, stop meddling in the Taiwan question and exacerbating tensions across the Taiwan Strait.” It is because the delivery of American weapons to Taiwan not only constitutes open interference in Chinese internal affairs but also is a serious violation of the one-China principle.
Taiwan, Ukraine-Russia war and technical dominance are just a few of the problems where the interests diverge between the two countries, the United States and China. However, tensions increased last month after an alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down by American fighter jets while flying over North America, bringing relations between the two powerful economies in the world to a record low followed by the United States increased support for Taiwan’s military training. China announced that its military spending would increase at the quickest rate in four years because of escalating external threats.
China’s Foreign Minister warns of conflict with U.S.
On 7th March, 2023, China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang delivered a sweeping rebuke of American policies at his first news briefing in the new role, and made a warning that “conflict and confrontation” with the United States is inevitable if Washington does not change the direction. He added “The U.S. claims that it seeks to outcompete China but does not seek conflict. Yet in reality, its so-called competition aims to contain and suppress China in all respects and get the two countries locked in a zero-sum game.” He also said that “Washington’s approach toward Beijing is a reckless gamble with the stakes being the fundamental interests of the two peoples and even the future of humanity.”
To conclude, Taiwan is a crucial island but its future is uncertain. At the moment, China, Taiwan and the United States all have a very little margin for miscalculation as the smallest mishap by any country can lead to an instant escalation or serious armed confrontation. To avoid conflict, the three countries should maintain diplomatic connections, encourage communication and dialogue to achieve effective results. Also, the international community must play its role in maintaining the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.
Research Associate, Pakistan House