Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in on Wednesday for a second presidential term amid worsening ties with China. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo tweeted congratulations on Tuesday ahead of the ceremony, which led China to denounce Pompeo’s message as “wrong and very dangerous,” reported Bloomberg.
Taiwan cannot accept becoming part of China under its ‘one country, two systems’ offer of autonomy, President Tsai Ing-wen said as she was sworn in for her second and final term https://t.co/UqsIjltDpq pic.twitter.com/uAj1viKOxe
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 20, 2020
The Ministry of National Defense released a statement Wednesday that said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would “take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard” China’s sovereignty, while the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Pompeo’s comments “seriously violated” the one-China principle.
“China urges the US side to immediately correct its mistakes,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “The Chinese side will take necessary countermeasures to respond to the above-mentioned erroneous actions by the US side. And the US side should bear the consequences arising therefrom.”
Washington has carefully refrained from recognizing Taipei’s government in the past. What triggered China into a fit of rage this week is Pompeo’s tweet that recognized Tsai as president and called Taiwan a “force for good in the world and a reliable partner.”
Congratulations to Dr. Tsai Ing-wen on the commencement of your second-term as Taiwan’s President. Taiwan’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to the region and the world. With President Tsai at the helm, our partnership with Taiwan will continue to flourish.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 19, 2020
Tsai told China to “find a way to co-exist” with Taiwan’s democratic government as her second term in Taipei will start on Wednesday. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party supports Taiwan’s independence from China and seeks additional measures to reduce reliance on China while increasing relations with the US.
With cross-strait relations and Sino-US diplomatic relations plunging to the lowest levels in quite some time, we recently noted how China’s “military leaders are pushing for a substantial increase in their budget to be announced at the National People’s Congress that starts on Friday, arguing that the world’s largest standing army needs more resources to cope with volatile challenges at home and overseas. And at the top of the list, according to the South China Morning Post, is the growing confrontation with the US.”
“With China-US relations sinking amid a trade war, spats over civil liberties and Taiwan, and conflicts over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, recent months have added accusations between Washington and Beijing about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. From Beijing’s viewpoint, the military threats are surfacing on its doorstep with US bombers running about 40 flights over contested areas of the South China and East China seas so far this year, or more than three times the number in the same period of 2019. US Navy warships have sailed four “freedom of navigation operations” in the area in the same period, compared with eight in all of last year.”
To make matters worse, the Communist Party’s Global Times not only denounced Pompeo’s tweet but warned that PLA has the capability to “overwhelm the Taiwan military and deter the US military.”
“China is becoming more powerful, and our ability to claim sovereignty over Taiwan is certainly growing,” the Global Times said. “At this time, the US and Taiwan want to play petty tricks at a low cost, which is too naive. We will make them feel pain in some places that they can’t think of.”
In November, we noted how Taiwan warned if China’s economy crashes, the threat of a Chinese invasion would be on the horizon.
“If the internal stability is a very serious issue, or economic slowdown has become a very serious issue for the top leaders to deal with, that is the occasion that we need to be very careful,” Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said late last year.
“We need to prepare ourselves for the worst situation to come…military conflict,” Wu warned.
Because of a virus pandemic and crashed economies across the world, cross-Strait relations and increasing tensions in the South China Sea are likely to be seen in 2H20.