Differences over the Taiwan Strait will only worsen as long as Washington treats Beijing as its rival for global dominance, according to a former senior mainland Chinese official.
At a seminar in Beijing on Monday, Sun Yafu, former deputy director of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said that given the United States had declined in strength, it would be “crazy” for the US to go to war with China just to remain the world’s dominant power.
“While some say it would be wishful thinking [to hope] the Americans will to change their [hegemonic mindset] … their strategic intent needs to be supported by a matching strength,” said Sun, now vice-president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, which handles ties with the self-ruled island.
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“Currently the strategic intent of the US and its supporting strength are not balanced and are unmatched, unlike those of China, which are balanced and matched.”
He said mainland China’s continued economic, technological, financial and military rise had raised serious concerns in the United States, which feared it would be replaced.
This also explained why Washington wanted to play the “Taiwan card” to try to counter the mainland, he said.
At the same time, the Democratic Progressive Party-led government in Taiwan had tried to use Washington to achieve independence, but Beijing would not allow this to happen, Sun said.
The mainland considers the island to be its own territory and has vowed to take back control, by force if necessary. It has warned Washington, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, against forging official contacts with the island or using it as a bargaining chip to compete with the mainland.
Sun said Washington treated Beijing as its top competitor and rallied its allies to do the same but the US administration had yet to prepare for conflict with the mainland.
He said a war over Taiwan was unlikely now, but the tension in the Taiwan Strait would intensify in the years to come, with a range of possibilities – from war to talks – over the next decade.
“According to various studies at home and from abroad, in the next 10 years or so, the scale of China’s economy will surpass that of the United States, and Chinese technology, finance and military power will come closer to the US’,” Sun said, adding this would thus gradually affect the balance of strength between the US and the mainland.
He said Beijing had never wanted to compete with Washington for global hegemony and the US administration should refrain from thinking that the mainland would want to do so.
“If the United States is afraid of China’s development in the next 10 years or so and insists on waging war with us, they would be crazy and we would have no choice but to fight them,” Sun said.
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