G7 ministers issued a statement on Aug. 3 in response to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military and diplomatic posturing over Taiwan, calling on the regime to cease its aggressive behavior in the region.
“We are concerned by recent and announced threatening actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion, which risk unnecessary escalation,” the statement said. “There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait.”
“We call on the PRC not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region, and to resolve cross-Strait differences by peaceful means.”
The comments follow U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) highly-publicized visit to Taiwan. The CCP loudly protested the trip by implementing retaliatory import bans on Taiwan, launching live-fire military drills surrounding the island, and sending fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
In the latest such incident, Taiwan’s military responded to an incursion of 22 Chinese fighter jets that flew across the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Aug. 3, which separates the island and the mainland. Taiwan said it dispatched aircraft and deployed missile systems to “monitor” the Chinese activities.
Pelosi and the White House maintain that the trip was in line with long-standing policies governing Sino-American relations, and in no way signaled a move away from the United States’ traditional role in the region. The G7 agreed with the United States’ position and said that the visit in no way meaningfully changed established precedent or policy.
“It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally,” the G7 statement said. “The PRC’s escalatory response risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region.”
“We reiterate our shared and steadfast commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, act with transparency, and maintain open lines of communication to prevent misunderstanding.”
The Group of Seven is an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
CCP Blusters Against Unchanged US Policy
The CCP maintains a so-called “One China” principle, which says that Taiwan is a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland. The regime has not ruled out the use of force to achieve this goal.
Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, however, and has never been controlled by the CCP. Moreover, Taiwan’s democratic government and thriving market economy ensure that it maintains healthy trade relations with many global powers.
The United States’ relations with Taiwan are governed by a series of treaties and diplomatic cables from over the years. Notably, the United States adheres to a One China policy, which provides diplomatic recognition, but not endorsement, of the CCP’s One China principle. The policy also mandates extensive unofficial ties with Taiwan. Further, the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 mandates that the United States will provide the arms to Taiwan necessary for its self-defense.
At the heart of the ongoing tensions between the CCP and the United States is their long-standing agreement that neither side will attempt to unilaterally change this status quo through force or coercion.
CCP authorities maintain that Pelosi’s visit was intended to unilaterally change that status quo, while U.S. officials say the same of China’s increased military and economic aggression in the region.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, for example, characterized Pelosi’s visit as a malicious attack on Chinese sovereignty that would disrupt the entire Indo-Pacific. He added that the United States’ efforts to support democracy were part of a web of “heinous deeds” and went so far as to describe Taiwan’s democratically elected president as a “secessionist” who “betrayed the righteousness of the great national cause.”
For its part, the United States took the bombast in stride, and reiterated its longstanding commitment to unofficial ties with Taiwan as governed by all the extant precedents.
“The speaker’s visit is totally consistent with our long-standing One China policy,” said White House National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby during an Aug. 2 press conference. “We’ve been very clear that nothing has changed about our One China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, three PRC-U.S. Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.”
“We’ve said we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We’ve said we do not support Taiwan independence.”
CCP Aggression Becomes Erratic
Against the stolid response from U.S. officials across the board, CCP leadership, including Wang, appear to be becoming increasingly erratic in their threats and bellicose rhetoric.
Wang’s comments that the United States was playing with fire, for instance, echoed CCP leader Xi Jinping’s threats that the United States would be set on fire for its relationship with Taiwan. In another case, Chinese state-owned media threatened that Pelosi’s plane should be shot down. In yet another, China’s assistant minister of foreign affairs, Hua Chunying, said that “China is the victim” of Pelosi’s trip and that any subsequent military action by the CCP was, therefore, justified.
Numerous current and former officials from the United States have dismissed the CCP’s rhetoric as saber-rattling.
Gen. David Stilwell, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, described the CCP”s posturing as “idle, empty, hollow threats, [meant] to get us to back down for free.”
To that end, he said that the United States’ allies and partners were its greatest strength, and that international forums could work together to send new delegations to Taiwan.
“The UK has already announced their own high-level visit,” Stilwell said. “We need the rest of the Quad, AUKUS, and the rest to follow suit.”
In a similar vein, a group of 26 Senate Republicans signed a joint statement affirming their support for Pelosi, Taiwan, and the United States’ long-standing maintenance of the status quo.
“We support Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan,” the statement said.
“For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have traveled to Taiwan. This travel is consistent with the United States’ One China policy to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Act.”
For its own part, Taiwanese authorities vowed to safeguard their democratic way of life against CCP aggression, no matter what.
“We are not eager for a fight, nor will we shy away from one,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a video released on social media. “We have the capacity and the will to uphold our valued liberty and democracy, and maintain our region’s stability.”
David Zhang contributed to this report