As if their relationship with Russia was not already problematic enough, the US is now on collision course with China, too. Following Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has now multiplied military drills around the sovereign country, which Xi Jinping’s regime considers to be part of their territory, under the “One China” policy. And as Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong rather brilliantly sums it up: the US and China are “sleepwalking into conflict”.
When asked about how likely an invasion of Taiwan is, Wong said: "Well, it’s hard to say, especially in such a scenario now where things are, you know, getting more and more uncertain. But I think Taiwan is certainly one flashpoint. It can easily become very dangerous. As we have seen in recent events and can even escalate quite quickly.
"Not because either party deliberately wants it to become a flash point because, as I said, both sides understand the consequences and really do not want to go into conflict. The leadership on both sides understands this but as they say, no one deliberately wants to go into battle.
But we are sleepwalking into conflict," he warned. "And that’s the biggest problem and danger."
And with China already playing war games around the island, Taiwan has sought to acquire large weapon platforms, such as warships and fighter aircrafts, in order to protect itself. Despite several threats from the Chinese officials, the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August skyrocketed fears of an invasion. In retaliation, China promptly condemned her stay, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin claiming it “severely impacted the political foundation of China-US relations, and seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.Wenbin concluded: “Taiwan’s collusion with external forces to seek independence and provocation will only accelerate their own demise, pushing themselves into the abyss of disaster. These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous: those who play with fire will perish by it.”
Taiwan says Beijing used Pelosi's visit as a pretext to raise the stakes in its feud with Taipei, firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait and over the island into the Pacific Ocean. China also sent planes and ships across the area that has long been a buffer between the sides, which separated amid civil war in 1949. In a lengthy policy statement, China distorted the historical record, including the United Nations' 1972 resolution that transferred the China seat on the Security Council from Taipei to Beijing, Taiwan's Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council said. The Chinese statement also discarded a pledge not to send troops or government officials to Taiwan that was contained in previous statements.
In response, a senior White House official told the Washington Post that Chinese leader Xi Jinping pleaded with US President Joe Biden to prevent Speaker Pelosi from adding Taiwan to her Asian tour. The request was supposedly made on a phone call on July 28th, but Biden said that Congress, being a separate branch of Government, is not under his control.
Consequently, Taiwan silently starts to take actions in face of the imminent invasion. Given China’s harassment outside Taiwanese territorial waters, it is now even more necessary to always keep an eye open on the dynamics of enemy ships. And for those underestimating the rising tension, here is what Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said during a visit to the island’s navy: “The pressure is so great that it is indescribable”.
Taiwan placed its military under high alert during the Chinese drills but took no direct countermeasures. It held artillery drills off its southwestern coast facing China last week, illustrating the challenges the People's Liberation Army would face were it to launch an invasion across the strait.
With only 13 countries officially recognising Taiwan as an independent nation, questions now arise as to which ones will step up and offer them help in case of an invasion. Given the magnitude of China’s firepower, it is imperative that another significant military powerhouse comes to the rescue, such as Pelosi’s US – as well as the Group of Seven industrialised nations, which the UK is part of.
Otherwise, it will be David and Goliath all over again, and we have not even dealt with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine yet.