In a joint statement on the present situation across the Taiwan Straits released on Wednesday, the G7 foreign ministers and the European Union high representative for foreign affairs expressed concern over China’s allegedly “threatening actions”, which they said “risk unnecessary escalation”, and they urged “all parties to remain calm” and “exercise restraint”.
In saying that, they have clearly underestimated the magnitude of Beijing’s wrath, and risk escalating it. In a response to a media inquiry about the statement, the spokesperson for the Chinese Mission to the EU condemned it as “fiendishness and effrontery”.
Accusing Western powers of standing facts on their heads regarding the state of affairs over Taiwan, the spokesperson made an explosive reference to the Eight-Nation Alliance that invaded China in 1900. “Today, the G7 plus 1 features another eight parties,” he said. “Are you forming a new Eight-Nation Alliance? Do you think China is still the China of the past? … The present-day world is no longer a time when Western powers could act willfully.”
Such remarks reflect Beijing’s sensitivity on the matter, and the fact that the G7+1 statement focuses solely on the possible effects with no mention of the cause. There is a clear and simple causal relationship here that is critically important for understanding both the trajectory of the current situation and Beijing’s reaction to it.
As Beijing announced numerous times prior to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s provocative trip to Taiwan, the Taiwan question is an internal affair of China and brooks no external interference. As China’s leadership has said, it arose out of the weakness and chaos of the Chinese nation, and it will be resolved with the country’s development and a national reunification. The three Sino-US joint communiques that serve as the bedrock of normal diplomatic ties stipulate in unequivocal terms there can only be unofficial relations between the countries on the basis that Taiwan is recognized as part of one China.
A visit by Pelosi to Taiwan was neither normal, nor routine. It betrayed the letter and spirit of the US commitment. And it has set a dangerous precedent. Although it comes as no real surprise given Western countries’ obsequious subservience to Washington, a parliamentary delegation from the United Kingdom will reportedly follow suit later this year.
Pelosi’s visit rather than serving her intention has served to show Beijing that its patience in seeking peaceful reunification will be continually tried, despite that serving the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including compatriots in Taiwan.
As the Chinese spokesperson said the joint statement’s wording of the “respective one-China policies” is meant to hollow out the one-China principle, which is unequivocal: There is only one China of which the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal representative, and Taiwan is part of China.
Before the G7+1 asks China to exercise restraint, it had better stop provoking it in the first place.
Editorial, China Daily