The US guided-missile destroyer John McCain made a transit through the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday. This was the fourth passage through the sensitive waters by US naval vessels since Joe Biden took office in January and coincided with a naval drill by the People's Liberation Army Navy carrier strike group near the island of Taiwan in the South China Sea.
Although the US claimed it was a routine crossing, such a move can be interpreted in a different way. As Zhang Chunhui, spokesperson for the Chinese military's eastern theater command, said in a statement, the US had sent the "wrong signal" to secessionists on the island. In effect saying, "Hi, don't be afraid, we will protect you, no matter what you do." Interpreting it that way, the secessionists on the island may be emboldened to go even further in their attempt to split the island from the motherland.
An official of the independence-minded administration on the island said with great bravado on Wednesday that Taiwan would "fight a war if we need to fight a war, and if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day, then we will defend ourselves to the very last day."
The US is therefore willfully and recklessly disrupting the regional situation by endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.
Late last month, the US ambassador to Palau, John Hennessey-Niland, became the first US ambassador to a foreign country to visit Taiwan since the US rightly cut off diplomatic ties with the island.
It is clear that the Biden administration has willingly accepted the mantle of its predecessor and intends to play the Taiwan card in its confrontational approach toward China.
Such a turn in policy is a step away from the promise the US made to abide by the one-China policy, a promise it recently reiterated. It seriously undermines the foundation for relations between the two countries as Beijing has made it clear that there is no room for compromise or concessions when it comes to the country's core interests, such as its territorial integrity.
If the US continues to play with fire on the question of Taiwan, it will only increase the tension across the Taiwan Straits and further harm the already strained political trust between Beijing and Washington. And if those secessionists on the island act on the wrong message of the US and go any further in their attempt to split the island from China, it will only cement the determination of the Chinese mainland to take the island back by force.
Admiral Philip Davidson, the most senior US military commander in the Asia-Pacific region, told a Senate panel last month that the indications of that happening were growing. "The risks are actually going up".
The Biden administration should take a step back and recognize that it is its emboldening of the secessionists on the island that is increasing the risks.