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Report: China’s Xi Says US Attempted To Trick Him Into Taiwan Invasion

by | Jun 19, 2024

Report: China’s Xi Says US Attempted To Trick Him Into Taiwan Invasion

by | Jun 19, 2024

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping

During a conversation in 2023 with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Chinese President Xi Jinping accused the US of attempting to goad him into invading the island of Taiwan. This is according to people familiar with the matter, speaking with Financial Times. Despite a long spate of provocations by Washington that threatened to cross China’s “first red line,” undermining cross-strait peace and regional security more broadly, the Chinese leader said he would not take the bait. US provocations have continued into the current year.

The meeting between the two leaders took place in April last year, although Xi’s claim about American intentions did not make it into any official press releases following their conversation. At the time, the Chinese Embassy in the United States stated, “On the Taiwan question, Xi Jinping stressed that it is at the core of China’s core interests. The Chinese government and the Chinese people will never stand for anyone trying to take advantage of the question. If anyone expects China to compromise and concede on the Taiwan question, they are having a pipe dream and would shoot themselves in the foot.” One person told the outlet that Xi issued a similar warning to Chinese officials as well.

According to the same embassy statement, Von der Leyen “reiterated that the EU has no intention to change its long-standing one-China policy, recognizes the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and hopes that peace and stability will be maintained across the Taiwan Strait.”

The FT report notes that this is the first known instance of Xi making this claim to a foreign leader, adding he “also said that a conflict with the US would destroy many of China’s achievements” and undermine his plan for his country’s “great rejuvenation” by 2049.

Cui Tiankai, former Chinese ambassador to Washington, referred to the US when he told the Asia Society in January that Beijing will “not fall into the trap somebody may be preparing for us.”

Although it appears to be changing now, for more than half a century, the one-China policy was also Washington’s official position regarding cross-strait relations. In 1979, the US cut formal ties with Taipei and recognized Beijing. The US continued selling arms to the island to bolster its defenses but, until the current administration, never financed such purchases themselves by providing military aid.

In addition, prior to the Joe Biden administration, the US also maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding whether or not the US would militarily defend the island, its erstwhile ally, if mainland forces moved to reclaim the de facto independent territory by violence.

This kept the peace for several decades, by leaving both sides uncertain about what the US role in such a conflict would entail. Critically, this “dual deterrence” strategy, as it was dubbed by officials, prevented Taiwanese officials from declaring de jure independence, which would likely spark a war. Cross-strait warfare would almost certainly turn nuclear if the US intervened.

In 2011, President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Biden launched the “pivot to Asia,” the largest military buildup since the Second World War, shifting two-thirds of all US air and naval forces to the Asia-Pacific along with effecting hundreds of bases, encircling China for a future direct war.

Former President Donald Trump further ramped up the pivot by drastically expanding the US military presence in the South China Sea, challenging Beijing’s territorial claims in these waters, waging a trade war against China, pushing through massive unprecedented arms sales to Taiwan, and upgrading diplomatic ties with the island by dispatching high-level officials there during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Subsequent to the 2020 US election, the pivot’s “architect,” Kurt Campbell, was selected as Biden’s top Asia official on the National Security Council. In May 2021, Campbell declared “The period that was broadly described as engagement has come to an end.” He continued, “we are now shifting our strategic focus, our economic interests, our military might more to the Indo-Pacific.” Campbell has since become deputy secretary of state, signaling tensions with China will be stoked further.

Biden has been vastly more hawkish on China than any of his predecessors, particularly on the Taiwan issue, about which Xi has personally admonished his American counterpart as being the “first red line that must not be crossed.” In addition to doubling down on the Trump policies, the White House has deployed roughly 200 troops to the island to instruct local forces for war with the mainland, had the National Guard train Taiwanese soldiers on US soil, repeatedly sailed warships through and flown spy planes over the Taiwan Strait, and deployed Green Berets to Kinmen Island.

In addition, the administration has secured rights to more bases in the Philippines provocatively close to Taiwan, lavished Taipei with billions in military aid, worked to convert the island into a “giant weapons depot,” and discarded “strategic ambiguity” in favor of a defense commitment.

Furthermore, the US has repeatedly sent congressional delegations to the island. In response, these political missions have provoked the largest-scale Chinese military exercises  to date, including blockade simulations around Taiwan.

Under Biden, virtually every branch of the US military has accepted war with China as a foregone conclusion and is preparing accordingly. Successive heads of Indo-Pacific Command have made clear they have been tasked by Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin as well as the president himself to prepare for war with Beijing over Taiwan’s sovereignty and even threatened to launch a “hellscape” drone war against China. Additionally, the US has reportedly been in talks with Taipei about bringing Taiwan under Washington’s nuclear umbrella.

This war fever with China is utterly bipartisan, with congressional Republicans demanding the US “arm Taiwan to the teeth.” During a recent visit to Taiwan, Rep. Michael McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, boasted “Even though there are debates about other theaters of war, I can tell you there is no division or no dissension when it comes to Taiwan in the Congress.”

Since leaving office, former members of Trump’s administration, including his top diplomat Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, have called for the US to outright recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

Besides Xi, Chinese officials have consistently made clear to their American counterparts that Taiwan is a “red line.” Beijing has repeatedly said that it seeks a “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan but they have not ruled out using force. While the American side often insists they merely want to “deter” war with its actions, Washington’s policies only make war more likely.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Connor Freeman

Connor Freeman

Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on Conflicts of Interest. His writing has been featured in media outlets such as Antiwar.com and Counterpunch, as well as the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also appeared on Liberty Weekly, Around the Empire, and Parallax Views. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96

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