“There are three major channels to deliver political signals to Taipei,” explained Dr. Chang Ching, a research fellow from the Taiwan-based Society for Strategic Studies and a lead military expert on the People’s Liberation Army and regional security in Taiwan. “They are spokespersons of Beijing’s Foreign Ministry, Taiwan Affairs Office, and the Defense Ministry. It is relatively unusual to direct a PLA spokesman to deliver such political signals.”
Dr. Chang suggests that the PLA’s statement appears to be a new psychological operation aimed at the US and Taiwan. The military expert has drawn attention to the fact that “for any sophisticated and well organized military maneuvers, it is always necessary to have proper prior preparation.” As such, he suggested that the exercises and the US visit are not causally linked.
“The possibility for the People’s Liberation Army to conduct an improvised military exercise simply reacting to any United States political figure visiting Taiwan is extremely low,” the professor argued. “The visit of the US Senator Rick Scott to Taiwan, the premeditated military [exercises] in airspace and waters around Taiwan, and the PLA routine press conference just happened on the same day. And a smart PLA spokesman grabbed the chance to exercise his psychological warfare skill and achieve the perception of warfare effects.”
“There are many political commentators and military analysts expecting the worst-case scenario will emerge sooner or later,” said Dr. Chang, referring to the possibility of a US-China military standoff over Taiwan. “However, as long as all parties involved in such a circumstance with high uncertainties and tensions are sensible enough, the hope for peaceful resolution of the cross-strait animosities will not totally diminish though many observers will think otherwise.”
The professor believes that as for now, the possibility of any significant Sino-US conflict is quite unlikely. While the differences between Washington and Beijing do exist, “the mutual communication channel and crisis prevention mechanism is also functional,” according to the expert.
Dr. Chang went on to claim that the Biden administration’s provocative moves with regard to Taiwan could be explained by simmering divisions within the White House.
“Many indications of internal conflicts emerged within his national security and foreign policy team members,” he said. “Some key members still keep strong ambition to exercise the salami-slicing tactics on [the] Taiwan issue for acquiring leverage towards Beijing. On the other hand, there are other members who are more willing to seek the possibility for mutual cooperation with their counterparts in Beijing and they will exercise a different set of policies towards Taipei and Beijing accordingly.”
As a result, the US administration’s strategy remains inconsistent, with Biden’s government being “an orchestra with no competent conductor to coordinate his foreign and security policies.”
However, Washington’s unbalanced approach comes at the expense of the Taiwanese inhabitants. The present administration’s negligence to the peace and stability of the region stems from the fact that “the criteria of supporting Taiwan is to serve the United States national interests, not Taiwan’s welfare,” according to the professor.
“Of course, in some cases, there are mutually beneficial solutions and arrangements in US-Taiwan relations,” he said. “Nonetheless, US interests are always the concern with higher priority for the leaders in Washington.”