NEW YORK (CNA) — Taiwan may be facing unprecedented difficulties being caught between the United States and China, but it enjoys an unprecedented level of security at the moment, a Taiwanese academic has argued.
Ming Chu-cheng (明居正), a political science professor at National Taiwan University who specializes in Chinese politics, said on Feb. 23 in a speech in New York that the trade war started by U.S. President Donald Trump has had a major impact on China and affected cross-strait relations.
The pressure from the trade war has contributed to the many internal and external problems facing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), and to relieve the pressure, Xi has had to look to a breakthrough in cross-strait relations to deliver a political achievement, Ming argued.
That is why China has changed its strategy toward Taiwan, the professor said in his speech at the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
Beijing has tried to force the issue of reunification by attempting to isolate Taiwan internationally by poaching its diplomatic allies, and it has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, Ming said.
That in turn has put pressure on Washington, which worries that if Taiwan, which is of great strategic importance to the U.S., is taken by China, it will directly affect the U.S.’s international status and reputation.
Therefore, the U.S. has shown itself willing to come to Taiwan’s aid, and the frequency of U.S. warships passing through the Taiwan Strait is expected to increase, Ming said.
Both China and the U.S. are using Taiwan as a bargaining chip, the professor suggested, giving Taiwan carrots when the other side hits it with sticks, and he argued that Taiwan should make good use of the two giants’ carrot-and-stick approach.
Xi is expected to try to put pressure on Taiwan by sending military aircraft and warships near Taiwan and even launching military operations, but a war is unlikely because the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not capable of seizing Taiwan by force, according to Ming.
Even if the PLA does invade Taiwan, the U.S. and Japan are expected to come to its aid, Ming contended.
On the trade issue, Ming expected China to compromise on such issues as lowering the influence of state-run companies in its economy, protecting intellectual property, eliminating forced technology transfers, and halting cyberattacks, but only to a certain extent.
Ming was invited by the Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) to speak on the outlook and challenges of cross-strait relations in several areas of North America, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Canada’s Toronto and New Jersey. New York was the last stop of the tour.
By Yin Jun-jie and Evelyn Kao