China Daily

Washington breaching its legal commitments

For a long time, the United States has openly claimed that preserving the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait is in its, and every stakeholder’s, best interest. In the name of safeguarding peace, Washington has issued persistent warnings against any party seeking to “unilaterally change the status quo”.

The alarm is being raised again as the island prepares to inaugurate a new team of leaders on Monday. But this time it is Beijing’s turn to say that to Washington. Because what the latter has been doing may effectively make the present state of affairs across the Taiwan Strait status quo ante.

Each time when a representative of the Democratic Progressive Party becomes leader of the local authorities on the Chinese island, Beijing reiterates it will have no truck with independence seekers.

But such a warning carries greater weight this year with Washington openly pushing for far-reaching changes to the “status quo”.

The joint military drills the US conducted with Taiwan in April only provided an additional reason for Beijing to question Washington’s commitment to the three joint communiques the two governments have so far recognized as being the cornerstone of the China-US relationship. No matter how Washington interprets the US’ “one-China” commitment, it has a legal obligation to not develop official relations with the island.

Although the April drills were dubbed “unplanned sea encounters”, they were patently anything but. They reportedly involved a half dozen vessels, including frigates and supply and support ships, lasted for days, and covered operations from communications to searching for underwater targets. They certainly were not “I am dining in this restaurant, and you also happen to be here”, as some sources in Taiwan tried to spin them to be. Last month, the island’s “naval chief” visited the US to discuss how to boost cooperation. This month, the Taiwan armed forces “chief of general staff” attended the change-of-guard ceremony for the US’ “Indo-Pacific” Command in Hawaii.

Beijing has protested the increasingly brazen ties between the US military and the island’s armed forces, which are clearly intended to be a demonstrative snub of its communique commitments without crossing, technically, Beijing’s redline. Nonetheless, it is a betrayal of bilateral obligations and a violation of international law.

But Washington’s latest attempts at reinterpreting UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 are a more direct challenge, because they are aimed at the jurisprudential foundation of the one-China principle. Though the US’ proclaimed purpose is to facilitate Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in international organizations, it is intended to do more than that, with US officials calling Taiwan’s status “undetermined” and calling for Taipei’s “meaningful participation” in the United Nations system.

Like the US’ recent claim that UN Security Council Resolution 2728 demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza is “nonbinding”, the US’ distorting of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 shows its hubris in placing itself above international law. But no matter what it tries, the US cannot change the fact that Taiwan island is part of China.

Editorial, China Daily

Categories China Daily Opinion