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Chinese officials accused Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen of promoting a “two-state theory” of relations between Beijing and Taipei, as the mainland communist regime uses a surge in fighter jet sorties to assert sovereignty over the island democracy.
“Both sides across the Taiwan Strait belong to one China, and their relations are by no means ‘state-to-state,’” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman, Ma Xiaoguang, told the South China Morning Post. “We will never tolerate any act of Taiwan independence and will never allow Taiwan to split from China.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has never ruled Taiwan, but the regime has claimed sovereignty over the island since the Chinese communist revolution in 1949. That dispute has crackled in recent days, as Chinese warplanes harried Taiwan’s air defense zone in the lead-up to the national day celebrations in both capitals, and the saber-rattling has alarmed President Joe Biden's administration and lawmakers.
“Xi is calculating that President Biden doesn’t have the fortitude to step in and defend Taiwan — Biden needs to prove him wrong,” Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday. “The Chinese Communist Party seeks to take control of Taiwan and subjugate its people to their will. President Biden cannot let that happen.”
Tsai hailed her government’s growing relationship with key democratic powers and struck a defiant tone against Beijing in her National Day speech on Sunday.
“Taiwan today is no longer seen as the orphan of Asia, but as an Island of Resilience that can face challenges with courage,” she said. “Let us here renew with one another our enduring commitment to a free and democratic constitutional system, our commitment that the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China should not be subordinate to each other, our commitment to resist annexation or encroachment upon our sovereignty, and our commitment that the future of the Republic of China (Taiwan) must be decided in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people.”
That language drew the rebuke from Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province masquerading as a country. “The so-called ‘not subordinate to each other’ is the explicit rhetoric of the ‘two-state theory,’” Ma protested. “Since 1949, although the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have not been completely reunified, the fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China has never changed and cannot be changed.”
Imperial Chinese authorities lost control of Taiwan in 1895 after losing a war with Japan, which proceeded to rule the island until the Second World War. The Republic of China government, founded in 1912 after the collapse of the imperial government, fled across the strait as its communist rivals won a civil war. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a mutual defense treaty with that government in 1954, but President Jimmy Carter abrogated that deal and established diplomatic relations with the mainland communist regime in a bipartisan bid to drive a wedge between Beijing and the Soviet Union.
"We have been very clear that our support for Taiwan is rock solid,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Tuesday, touting the long-standing “unofficial” relationship between Washington and Taipei. "We’ve also been very clear that we are committed to deepening our ties with Taiwan. We know that Taiwan is a leading democracy. It is a critical economic and security partner.”
U.S. military strategists regard Taiwan as a crucial link in a chain of democracies off the coast of China that impede Beijing’s military operations in the region and contributes to U.S. efforts to protect allies and keep shipping lanes open.
“The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we face from China,” Tsai said. “Free and democratic countries around the world have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism, with Taiwan standing on democracy's first line of defense.”
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Original Author: Joel Gehrke