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Washington becoming proactive in face of China threats: analysts

ROC Central News Agency

03/26/2021 09:53 PM

Taipei, March 26 (CNA) The United States is becoming proactive in face of threats from China, according to political analysts in Taiwan, when asked on Friday to comment on President Joe Biden's remarks at his first press conference since taking the office on Jan. 20.

At the press event on Thursday, the 78-year-old Biden said the U.S. will not look for confrontation with China although "we know there will be steep, steep competition;" and that his administration will insist "China play by the international rules" that stipulate fair competition, fair trade, and fair practices.

"We are going to hold China accountable to follow the rules ... whether it relates to the South China Sea or the North China Sea, or their agreement made on Taiwan," Biden said, adding that the U.S. will not stop paying attention to human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said that on the Taiwan issue, Biden has changed his conservative stance seen in the past to being "proactive," as shown by his taking the initiative to speak of Taiwan at the press event.

"This is a big change in strategic position," Lo said.

He said Taiwan is a crucial part of the United States' Indo-Pacific policy, and is also an important partner with which the U.S. will forge cooperative relations in the fields of economy and trade, security, and science and technology.

The two sides also share common values in democracy, freedom and human rights.

Chen Chien-jen (程建人), who served as Taiwan's foreign minister from 1999 to 2000 under former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), meanwhile, said Biden did not changed his stance before and after taking office that the U.S.' relationship with China should be "partly cooperative and partly competitive."

After four years of President Donald Trump's governance, a consensus has taken shape in Washington, that is: To the U.S., China represents a long-term challenge and threat, therefore Washington has to be proactive in the face of this new power.

However, unlike his predecessor Trump, Biden will adopt a "3C" China policy, meaning "competition," "confrontation" and "cooperation," Chen said.

Given Biden's desire to seek alliances with other countries to respond to China's threats, this could mark "the beginning of new cold war era," he said.

However, he noted that even though both the U.S. and China used strong words towards each other, they are still able to communicate. They two should take some responsibility for the current bad climate in international society, he added.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an academic at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that when Barack Obama was president, Washington still harbored hopes of peacefully changing China, but after Trump and now under Biden, such hopes no longer exist.

Both sides will enter a new competitive relationship and the United States' promises to its allies will become crucial, he said.

Su added that Taiwan was important to the U.S. not only because it holds an irreplaceable status in the First Island Chain, the invisible line the U.S. had drawn during the Cold War to keep communism from spreading.

Washington's support for Taiwan was not only due to their shared democratic values, but because of geopolitical considerations, including Taiwan's crucial position in helping to defend the United States mainland, Su said.

He explained that if China's nuclear submarines are able to pass through the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan into the Philippines Sea, they will have the capability to strike the U.S. mainland.

Su pointed out that the agreement reached between Taipei and Washington on Friday to share information, step up communication and build cooperation between the two sides' coast guard symbolizes the further development of Taiwan-U.S. relations.

Lo agreed that the U.S. was taking more concrete steps to support Taiwan, especially after China had recently passed a law authorizing its coast guard to use force in confrontations at sea. Given that the coast guard is considered "a second navy," U.S.-Taiwan coast guard cooperation will have great importance, he said.

(By Matt Yu and Elizabeth Hsu)


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