The US House of Representatives on May 7 passed the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019 and House Resolution 273 which reaffirmed the US commitment to the island of Taiwan and the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act, according to Asia Times. Reuters reported that the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019 will enable the US to make "regular sales of defense articles" to the island of Taiwan and support Taiwan's "participation in international organizations."
There are several causes behind the House's passing the bills. One is to further strengthen ties with the island of Taiwan. Moreover, some hawkish US lawmakers attempt to play the Taiwan card to boost domestic support. Currently, tensions between Beijing and Washington are rising. Taiwan card can be used to provoke the Chinese mainland. Some believe the US executive branch has been too weak in upgrading ties with Taiwan and hope to pressure them to promote further measures.
The Taiwan question has always been intertwined with China-US relations.
Mutual trust between Beijing and Washington is gradually weakening while the strategic game between them is getting increasingly intense.
Since Tsai Ing-wen became the leader of Taiwan region, cross-Straits relations have been deteriorating. Taiwan regional leadership election will be held in 2020 and some politicians in Taiwan hope to use US-Taiwan relations as a lever to canvass the constituency.
Meanwhile, the US has increasingly challenged the one-China principle in recent years. For example, a US Navy research vessel docked in Kaosiung, a Taiwan's southern port city in October 2018; Amanda Mansour, spokesperson of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) confirmed in April 2019 that the US Department of State has deployed US soldiers at AIT since 2005; the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019 also directs the US secretary of defense to work to include Taiwan in bilateral and multilateral military training exercises.
In spite of orally abiding by the one-China principle, the connotation of US one-China principle is being hollowed out. The US House's recent legislation on Taiwan shows they hope to continue this trend and the US may come up with new moves on Taiwan in the future.
In the coming years, US ties with the island of Taiwan may deepen. The US tries to use pro-Taiwan policies to pressure the mainland. Therefore, US willingness to support Taiwan will be increasingly strong. In the context of current cross-Straits tensions, the island of Taiwan will actively cooperate with the US, or even prompt the US to take measures to enhance their bilateral ties, which is important for Tsai.
Since Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019 is only the "sense of the Congress" and the US Senate has not voted on the act, Beijing is not supposed to overreact. We need to show to the US that its recent moves on Taiwan will escalate China-US tensions and impede cooperation in other fields, such as on theNorth Korean nuclear issues. Additionally, we have to convince the US Congress of the danger of its pro-Taiwan moves, which play a detrimental role in China-US ties.
Besides the pro-Taiwan groups in the US, Taiwan regional administration also pushed the two acts. We should warn the island of Taiwan that if Tsai "administration" tries to play the US card, they need to pay the price. If there are further moves between the US and the island of Taiwan, we can increase the pressure on Taiwan, including limiting its participation in international organizations, or taking some military measures, such as military exercises and warships cruising around the island. In all, we need to send a deterrent signal to Taiwan and warn it against playing with fire.
The author is deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University. email@example.com