Tension with China Rising – A Dangerous New Challenge
The Chinese have decided to escalate the rhetoric on Taiwan and its territorial claims, this time posing a dangerous test to the United States and the Biden Administration.
The United States and Taiwan have historically asserted that the 100 mile wide Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China is international waters. The U.S. has frequently demonstrated its rights to international water by sailing the U.S. Navy through these waters. We have done this with Russia, with Iran and many others to show the world that navigation through international waters are to be maintained.
However recently, China’s Foreign Ministry said the country “has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait” and called it “a false claim when certain countries call the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters’.”
The U.S. and Taiwan have re-asserted the claim that these are international waters.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in an email to Reuters: “The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway, meaning that the Taiwan Strait is an area where high seas freedoms, including freedom of navigation and overflight, are guaranteed under international law.”
The question is this. We have a policy to ensure that international waters are free to traverse. What will happen if the U.S. Navy sails through there, next time?
If the U.S. backs down and China is allowed to prevent international navigation through the Taiwan Strait, then the U.S. loses face with the rest of the world, China perceives that Biden is weak. Taiwan will almost certainly get invaded.
If the U.S. exercises its right to traverse the Taiwan Strait with the U.S. Navy, it risks a confrontation with the Chinese armed forces.
China would not have made this challenge if they though Biden was a strong leader. They know he is not.
If he refuses to rise to the challenge, China will claim a major concession, and show the world that the U.S. cannot protect them anymore.
And unfortunately, they will be right.