China and U.S. traded diplomatic barbs over potential forceful reunification, while Chinese aircraft continued incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone. U.S. Sec State Blinken 3 Dec warned of “terrible consequences” should China attempt to force reunification across Taiwan Strait; U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin next day said Chinese aerial incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) looked “like rehearsals”. Chinese foreign ministry 6 Dec said it “strongly deplores” statements and that challenging “one China” policy “will not stop the progress of history”. Taiwanese defence ministry 13 Dec said full Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be extremely difficult to achieve and that Chinese military may use drills as pretence to launch an attack. Chinese foreign ministry 15 Dec voiced opposition to same day arrival of six French legislators in capital Taipei for visit; legislators 17 Dec said France must take bolder action to support Taiwan’s democracy. Chinese aircraft flew into south-western corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ nearly every day during month, totaling 60 aircraft as of 19 Dec; largest incursion comprising 13 Chinese military aircraft occurred on 10 Dec when Nicaragua announced severing of ties with Taiwan and established official diplomatic relations with China. Chinese media 8 Dec reported that Taiwanese hacking group GreenSpot has been launching cyberattacks on mainland since 2007, mainly targeting govt agencies, aerospace and military organisations. Reuters 20 Dec revealed broad Chinese campaign to undermine Taiwan’s military and civilian leadership, said Taiwan had convicted at least 21 Taiwanese officers of espionage in past decade. U.S. and Taiwan 6 Dec agreed to establish stronger tech cooperation, chiefly in semiconductors.
After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved.
Each side’s most preferred solution for resolving the continuing Taiwan Strait issue – in the case of Taipei, widely recognised de jure independence; and in the case of Beijing, reunification of China on the same ‘one country, two systems’ basis as Hong Kong – are both non-starters.
Apparently irreconcilable positions on the ‘one China’ principle have emerged between China and Taiwan over the last decade, with Taiwan for some time now asserting not only that it is a separate political entity but an independent sovereign country.
China's underlying position on its cross-Strait relations, however strong its current commitment to peaceful diplomacy, is that Taiwan must make sustained, visible progress toward a peaceful settlement or risk a resort to armed hostilities.
In the last decade, Taiwan has moved slowly but surely away from its commitment to the idea of ‘one China’, the proposition, long agreed on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, that Taiwan and the mainland are parts of one country.
The number of Chinese military flights near Taiwan has soared in recent days. In this Q&A, our expert Amanda Hsiao says Beijing is not only demonstrating its objections to deepening U.S.-Taiwan ties, but also warning the broader international community against getting closer to Taiwan.