China’s rhetoric has become noticeably sharper, and more bellicose in recent days as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues his tour through Asia. The goal of Pompeo’s trip has been to build more support for containing China. Predictably, this has angered Beijing and represents another thorn in US-China relations, which have deteriorated considerably over the last 12 months. Now Taiwan is offering another outlet for China to vent its anger towards. On Tuesday, the Taiwanese Kuomintang Party (KMT) started applying pressure on the Taiwanese government to reestablish formal relations with the United States.
“The only way forward is for the mainland to fully prepare itself for war and to give Taiwan secessionist forces a decisive punishment at any time,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-sponsored Global Times, wrote in Wednesday’s column. “As the secessionist forces’ arrogance continues to swell, the historical turning point is getting closer.”
While the Global Times is not a mouthpiece for the Chinese government, it is in alignment with its policies. So the column should not be taken lightly by Taipei, or Washington.
China has been relentless with the amount of military pressure it has applied against Taiwan lately. On a regular basis Chinese warplanes and other types of military aircraft have challenged Taiwan’s air defense identification zones. PLAN and PLAF aircraft approach Taiwanese airspace, forcing Taiwan to scramble fighters and intercept. China is hoping the frequent flights is having a negative effect on Taiwan’s military readiness, however, it is fair to surmise that they could be having the opposite effect.
Taiwan is hoping for a Trump reelection victory in November. The Trump administration’s criticism of China’s expansionism and human rights violations have proven to Taipei that it has a genuine friend in President Trump. A Biden victory, given his soft record on China, could encourage Beijing to strangle Taiwan economically, in preparation for a military move against the island at some point after.