Research and Opinion

One China, one USA, and (not) one war

42 Večernji list, Saturday, September 3, 2022

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One China, one USA, and (not) one war


 Jasna Plevnik


If America had as a goal peace and a more stable world, that would happen. There is not yet any single major power than Washington, which could jump into this military-economic chaos, that is spreading around the world, and impose peace in Europe and stop the growth of military tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

The fear that the world is on the brink of a global world war is not just a  feeling, it is a fact.

Most conflicts in international relations come from American geopolitics and the inability of America's military leaders to modernize the country's outdated national security strategies.

After numerous debacles of the American geopolitical projects, including the latest defeat in Afghanistan, President Biden continues with politics of domination over strategically vital parts of the world, which is not so strange because neoconservatives play an important role in the current administration. They also have a global influence on the interpreting military situation in Ukraine. And in  Croatia, the media outlets often use data about the war in Ukraine produced by a neoconservative think-tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW),  led by Kimberley Allen Kagan, with the support of the military companies General Dynamics and Raytheon.[1]

For neoconservatives, America, which has 4.2% of the world's population, and only 16% of the world's GDP (measured at international prices), must be militarily superior in all regions of the world what asks that Russia, and one day China, be excluded from global power competition and Bruxelles's global economic scope and influence stays under Washington's control. For the USA's leadership, the war in Ukraine is an opportunity for new geostrategic and economic gains by killing three birds with one stone: Russia, the EU, and China.

That's why America places its overseas military bases near their territories, or within them, and expands NATO, and its strategic interest in the post-Cold War order, which should be modernised and based on global cooperation, is not radically different from those during the Cold War when the "world of geography" and competition for physical spaces prevailed.

Many books have been written about whether America can fight two wars at the same time: with Russia and China, though it seems, given its internal turmoil, that the question could also be raised whether it can fight three wars: Russian, Chinese, and civil at the same time.

Washington is now participating in the so-called proxy war in Europe, but according to the classic definition of conflicted parties America can easily be defined as a direct party in the Ukrainian conflict if we look at its military, intelligence, and cyber involvement, while in the Indo-Pacific it conducts diplomacy for ruining stability, rising tensions, and building new regional alliances against China.

There is more worrying news. One of its goals is to geopolitically include the European Union in that region, which would cost the Union a great deal both economically and politically if it followed that path.

For America, it is not enough that the European Union separates itself from Russia in terms of energy and trade, with the high short-term, economic costs (inflations, the fall of the euro) and long-term - fall of its global competitiveness.

The economy of the Union is still maintaining, as private capital extracts large profits for basic services such as electricity, water, oil, and gas, but high inflation is crushing the standard of citizens.

The poorer people are already living in a war economy. In Brussels, there are only two or three member countries, Hungary for example, which worry about the economic interests of the European Union, while others continue to pursue American geostrategic interests instead of shaping policies for imposing peace.

The US persistently asks the EU to decrease and securitized its economic ties with China and participate in the economic and geopolitical destabilization of the Asia-Pacific region. And here Washington percepts the EU as an „ally“ or more correctly a tool in Washington's strategy for reaching its long-term, economic, and strategic goals in that region. All this alliance the USA has wrapped into a story about the struggle between democracies and autocracies for defending Western values.

The American people and Europeans are being sold the idea that now it is China that threatens economic prosperity, the national security of America and Europe, and global rules to impose its model of society and subjugate the West, although it is America that despises cooperation, and dictates the conditions in all regions of the world . Despite loud claims about "dangerous China" and America as the "leader of the democratic world", Beijing, unlike America, did not wage wars in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

Thus, feeling has appeared again, the same as when Iraq was attacked, that if the EU does not come to its senses and separate itself from the USA, which is not up to the challenge of solving the current geopolitical crisis, it will become its victim from an elated ally.

The American people and Europeans must not buy the narrative that now it is China that threatens economic prosperity, the national security of America and Europe, and global rules to impose its model of society on the West. America is that despises cooperation, and dictates the conditions in all regions of the world. Despite the claims about "dangerous China" and America as the "leader of the democratic world", America, not  Beijing, fought wars in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

America's attitude towards China is belligerent and is not a platform for the third decades of the 21st century on which to solve global problems from economics, health, and climate change, or to contain or economically and militarily defeat China.

Under pressure from Congress, the CIA is shifting its focus and resources from counterterrorism to China, which means that CIA operations will be designed to use disinformation to provoke China into responding with force against Taiwan. These are the old CIA- methods.

Last year, the Agency established the Chinese Mission Centre for the Coordination of Provocations, it is working on establishing new centres to collect data on China and its new technologies, so many Agency officials are learning Chinese.

The US and its Pacific allies are holding joint military exercises in the Indo-Pacific.

All this is part of an intensified campaign of pressure on China, which will continue in the coming years because the United States is more concerned about the modernization of the Chinese military, especially the submarine force, and China's economic and technological development than Taiwan's independence.

America has announced that if China tries to resolve the issue of Taiwan militarily, it will intervene, although there is no legal obligation towards Taiwan to intervene militarily. American support for Taiwan is defined through the Taiwan Relations Act, while the Taiwan lobby is one of the most powerful lobbies in America.

Unlike the war in Ukraine, American behaviour towards Taiwan is questioning China's territorial sovereignty, and if it gets involved in the defence of Taiwan, the US would be in the position of an aggressor against China.

Beijing does not want any other state or supranational structure to influence the "national issue" that needs to be resolved by the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. China describes the activities of the Taiwan independence forces as a major and complex challenge to its security and the peaceful development of relations in its official documents.

China is more focused on soft than hard power diplomacy in the region, but its position is clear and consistent: in the event of a change in the status of Taiwan, it is ready for war. In 2005, Beijing adopted an anti-recession law according to which it would attack Taiwan in the event of independence, but in the same year, a direct flight between China and Taiwan was introduced for the New Year holidays, and the leader of the Nationalist Party of Taiwan, Lien Chan, met with the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Three years later, a Taiwanese office was opened in the territory of China, and a Chinese office was opened in Taiwan.

Beijing placed the return of Taiwan in the context of peaceful annexation because peace is not only a moral category but also the main condition for the economic development of China and the world. America does not believe in China's peaceful policy of returning to Taiwan, nor does it trust the Taiwanese, one part of which supports the return to the mother country, the other is for the status quo, and the smallest part is for the independence of Taiwan.

The Biden administration forgets that the true history of diplomatic relations between the world's largest economic powers began with the American recognition that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. Ever since the Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy, America has not supported Taiwan's independence and membership in international organizations, but the one-China policy. China is worried about the increased sale of US arms to Taiwan despite American promises to reduce them according to the terms of the three joint communique from 1972, 1979, and 1982.

A lot of time has passed since then, China has become a global economic and military power, and because of China's development as a competitor to America, Washington has strengthened its ambiguous attitude toward the principle of one China. It sells arms to Taiwan and supports Taiwanese politicians who advocate independence, thus deliberately provoking China. America has not yet ended the trade war launched by former President Trump in 2018, which China sees as an attempt to halt its technological and scientific progress. While China was weak and poor, Washington pursued its interests in the Asia-Pacific region more simply. America tried to maintain this situation with various policies and multilateral diplomacy, but after waging several wars against terrorism, a key role in generating the global economic crisis, and above all due to the strategic offensive and further growth of China's economic power, it failed.

However, American interference in China-Taiwan relations has the greatest potential of all security threats to return the entire region to a state of geopolitical competition and military conflict.

Joining a military anti-China alliance would be a difficult decision for South Korea and Japan due to their strong economic interdependence with China. Japan, for example, brings imported oil along the southeast coast of Taiwan, so any conflict in that area would lead to an energy crisis, as well as a crisis of other commodities.

The United States has improved its partnership with South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia, invented new words such as AUKUS, and is counting on a partnership with India, with which it signed an agreement in 2006 on India's access to American civilian nuclear technology. The war in Ukraine has shown that India is looking out for its interests.

China has become a powerful enough country that it does not have to prove its military strength to anyone. It invested a lot of diplomatic and economic power in its relations with Taiwan. Thanks to numerous agreements on the development of bilateral relations, first in the field of trade, transport, and postal services, and later in the field of tourism, political, cultural, financial, and sports cooperation between countrymen, there has been great progress in the field of economic cooperation and growth of political trust. Taiwan exports significantly more to China than to America.

 Since the 1970s, China has been committed to policies and principles that create a peaceful environment in relations with Taiwan. In the early 1970s, Taiwan rejected Chinese proposals for negotiations as propaganda, but the Chinese Party took numerous unilateral actions to convince its compatriots that they wanted to resolve reunification without force, and on these grounds, in 1981, it published the Nine-Point Proposal for the Resolution of the Taiwan Question. In the same year, associations were formed on both sides, then councils for relations and affairs across the Taiwan Strait. China added a provision to the Constitution in 1982 allowing the formation of special administrative regions, and on February 22, 1984, Deng Xiaoping presented his idea of ​​peaceful unification known as the slogan of one country, two systems. At that time, a law was passed in Taiwan banning investment from China, but economic ties strengthened, and many businessmen began to invest in China.

China and Taiwan have gone through many ups and downs, but also crises in negotiations, most of which were caused by America. The recent aggressive visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan caused damage to all actors, undermined regional stability, and did not even bring important political points to the Democratic Party. Pelosi received a cold reception in Singapore.

With that visit, which the American president could have prevented, America showed brazen contempt for China's warnings. It behaved similarly to Russia's many-year-old warnings about NATO expansion.

During that visit, China demonstrated that it could surround and isolate Taiwan from all sides with its navy and that it can target any point on the island with missiles.

The US move in 1995 also led to a cooling in the negotiations between China and Taiwan. America gave Taiwanese President Lee Teng Hui a visa to visit Cornell University, where he studied after Chinese President Jiang Zemin presented the Eight Points earlier that year as a new impetus in the development of Taiwan-China relations. Relations were worsened by President Lee Teng's statement to Deutsche Welle in 1999 that he views the relations between China and Taiwan as "two countries" and that the "Republic of China" has been independent since 1911.

A war between America and China is not inevitable as international relations theorists think. True, here we have a kind of "Thucydides trap", but in reverse, because China, which is a rising power, is not the one challenging the ruling power of America, but the old superpower is challenging the new one and drawing it into conflict. China respects America and strives for cooperation and opposes the divisive mentality among countries by implementing regionally and globally new models of cooperation through its four main global platforms: the Belt and Road, the Global Development Initiative, the Initiative and Community for a Shared Future for Humanity, and the Global Security Initiative which is the latest and is based on the principle of "indivisible of security".

America does not believe in these initiatives and, together with some countries in the EU, persistently calls China's diplomacy of connection and cooperation "debt trap diplomacy". The latest study by the British charity Debt Justice found that African countries within the Belt and Road owe three times as much to Western banks, asset managers, and oil traders as they do to China. In July 2022, large protests broke out in Sri Lanka, and some anti-Chinese forces linked the instability in the country to the Belt and Road projects in Sri Lanka. According to Sri Lanka's Department of External Resources statistics as of the end of April 2021, Sri Lanka owes 81% of its external debt to US and European financial institutions and Western allies Japan and India, while China owns only 10% of their debt. America and the EU ignore such data

Kurt Campbell, coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs in Biden's National Security Council, confirmed the possibility of a meeting between President Xi Jinping and Joe Biden on the side-lines of November's G20 meeting in Bali. From the world's strongest powers the world expects they will find answers to the chaos that US-China relations are creating at the political and economic level of the world order. America as a superpower has a unique moment to find new mechanisms that will allow it to better cooperate with China on issues of regional and global interest such as peace, health, and climate despite their ideological differences.

The High Representative of the Union Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, thinks the EU could act as a 'moderator' in the Taiwan Strait. Now the negotiating power of the European Union does not seem strong, since it cannot influence to stop the war in Europe with its policies or mediate in that direction.

Until 2019, the European Union developed as a global economic power and became an ideal model of cooperation between states, but since the warlike former German defence minister came to its head, Brussels has been systematically rejecting its economic roots and the goals of building global economic peace. The head of the EC does not seem to see the differences between the EU and NATO. The Union weakens Europe!

Now the Union is rushing towards transformation not even into geopolitical power, but into a financial victim of American geostrategy whose costs no longer come with small numbers.

[1] See Jeffrey D. Sachs,  Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster,  June 27, 2022.   Other news

„The neocon movement emerged in the 1970s around a group of public intellectuals, several of whom were influenced by University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss and Yale University classicist Donald Kagan.  Neocon leaders included Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Abrams, and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick). 


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