Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen arrives at the boarding gate of the international airport in TaoyuanInternationalIndiaAfricaTsai Ing-wen’s attempts to enhance the Washington-Taipei relationship and secure diplomatic ties with Central American states come as Taiwan’s nine diplomatic allies have switched sides and turned to Beijing under her watch, international observers told Sputnik.”The main goals obviously pursued by President Tsai are enhancing the relationship between Washington and Taipei and securing the diplomatic relations with Guatemala and Belize,” Dr. Chang Ching, military expert on the People’s Liberation Army and regional security and senior research fellow of the Taiwan-based Society for Strategic Studies, told Sputnik. “Nevertheless, no matter how hard the efforts ever paid by Taipei, the possibility for a structural change such as the United States severing its diplomatic relations with People’s Republic of China and shifting diplomatic recognition to Republic of China is totally nonexistent.””All these diplomatic maneuvers are reflecting Washington’s grand strategy of playing ‘Taiwan card’ to get leverages on Beijing and Taipei using a possible Washington intervention in cross-strait conflict to deter Beijing. Therefore, we should never expect any pragmatic outcome other than media effects from any engagement or meeting with the US politicians,” the military expert continued.On March 30, Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York City on her way to Central America. She is also expected to visit Los Angeles and meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on her way back. Tsai’s “transit” visit is fraught with serious risks, according to Dr. Antonio C. Hsiang, professor at Chile’s ANEPE (La Academia Nacional de Estudios Políticos y Estratégicos) and a Board Member of Taiwan’s Society for Strategic Studies.First, it decreases US credibility in what it sees as its backyard when countries ignore US preferences and choose Beijing over Taipei, Hsiang noted, citing Honduras’ decision to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing despite Washington’s pressure. Second, a real danger may arise as Tsai’s visit is ramping up tensions on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Third, by seeking closer ties to the US to counter domestic weakness, “transit diplomacy” risks making the island less attractive for investments and undermining its economy.”Taiwan’s economy has deteriorated recently,” Hsiang noted. “According to the Business Environment Risk Intelligence Report released in April of 2022, Taiwan was ranked the third-best destination for investment. But by September, the island had dropped to sixth, only to fall further to fourteenth by December of 2022.”AnalysisTsai’s Visit to US Can’t Curb China’s Growing Political Influence in the World30 March, 13:22 GMT
Why China is Unlikely to Pick a Military Option
While some observers suggest that Tsai’s visit to the US may prompt Beijing to resort to the use of force in order to speed up the reunification with the island, other experts insist that this scenario is unlikely.Speaking to Sputnik on March 30, Ross Feingold, a political risk analyst, noted in response to Tsai’s “transit visit”, Beijing may either launch military drills near the island – akin to those it kicked off following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last year – or slap restrictions on the transit of some goods in and out of Taiwan.On the other hand, China is serious about becoming an influential peace broker, as Jonathan Sullivan, director of China Programs at the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute in the UK, told Sputnik on March 22. Sullivan referred to Beijing’s success in mediating the historic reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia earlier this month.AnalysisXi-Putin Meeting Marks Tectonic Geopolitical Shift Which West Not Ready for22 March, 16:40 GMTPrior to that, in February, Beijing presented a 12-point proposal that called for the resumption of peace talks between Kiev and Moscow. China’s latest peace efforts came within the framework of the country’s new Global Security Initiative, which lays out practical measures to address current security challenges.Some observers argue that against this backdrop, it seems highly unlikely that the PRC would resort to the use of force when it comes to Taiwan, even though Chinese President Xi Jinping hinted last October that this option is on the table.”Resolving the Taiwan issue is the Chinese people’s own business, and it’s up to the Chinese people to decide,” Xi said during the opening of the ruling Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress in Beijing in October 2022. “We insist on striving for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and best efforts, but we will never promise to give up the use of force and reserve the option to take all necessary measures,” the Chinese president said.Still, on March 13, 2023, Xi again emphasized the importance of promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, while addressing the closing meeting of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress. He pointed out that Beijing would take resolute steps to advance the process of the country’s peaceful reunification.AsiaChina Urges US to Stop All Forms of Official Interaction With Taiwan29 March, 14:07 GMT
Taiwan Leaders Pushing the Island Towards Self-Destructing Conflict
Meanwhile, it appears that US policymakers and Tsai Ing-wen are deliberately trying to provoke China into over-reacting on the Taiwan issue, according to Hsiang.”Over the past seven years, President Tsai and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have become increasingly fixated on provoking China,” Hsiang said. “The debacle of nine-in-one local elections held last November 26 showed that the DPP’s strategy of ‘opposing China and defending Taiwan’ cannot consolidate its base and expand to the younger Taiwanese electorate. As a result, President Tsai resigned as head of the ruling DPP following local election losses. Whoever [is] to be elected as [the] next president should pursue the interests of the island as a whole and prevent Taiwan from spiraling towards a self-destructive conflict.”Dr. Chang Ching appears to agree that Tsai, who completes her term next year, has chosen a wrong path:”Sadly to say, the cross-strait relations are an essential element for retaining diplomatic relations with other states in international society. During President Ma’s administration, the struggle of diplomacy between [the] two sides of the Taiwan Strait cooled down since Taipei and Beijing were engaged more constructively. Yet, it totally changed after President Tsai came to power in 2016. We have lost nine states that originally recognized us diplomatically since then,” the scholar concluded.