It would be a miscalculation for secessionists on the island of Taiwan to embrace the actions of the United States as substantial support for their “independence”.
That the US Senate passed the 2019 National Defence Authorisation Act early last week calling for joint Taiwan-US military drills, and a congressman has put forward a resolution proposing that the United States recognise the island of Taiwan as a “sovereign and independent country”, may have given them the belief that the US is throwing its weight behind them.
Especially as the two events come just a week after the US-funded American Institute of Taiwan unveiled its new $256 million (Bt8.5 billion) headquarters in Taipei. And after the US adopted the Taiwan Travel Act early this year.
But if the secessionists believe that means the US will back them in their endeavours, they are being misled by false hope.
If diehard secessionists such as the island’s executive head Lai Ching-te – who has explicitly declared himself a “worker for Taiwan independence” and claimed that the island is a “sovereign and independent country” – pursue their aims because they calculate that the US will support them, they will one day regret their reckoning.
It is not a matter of which power the secessionists can rely on to support them. It is instead a matter of whether what they are doing is in the interests of people across the Taiwan Straits.
People on the island have benefited a lot from the peaceful development of amicable cross-straits relations in the past years. It should not be difficult for them to see how they have suffered because of the refusal by the island’s current administration to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus.
All the moves that the Trump administration has made including the Taiwan Travel Act and noises made by US politicians on US ties with the island are anything but well-intended support for the well-being of people on the island.
If anything, the meddling by the US in the cross-Straits relations will only make the situation even more complicated and dangerous. The more interference from the United States in the cross-straits relations, the more resolved the Chinese mainland will be to defend its territorial integrity.
And if the US administration believes that it can gain an upper hand over China in other fields such as trade talks by playing the card of Taiwan, they will find they have made a wrong move, as any meddling in the cross-Straits ties which are China’s core interest will badly hurt China-US relations.