US Reportedly 'Crisis-Planning' With UK Over Alleged 'China Threat' to Taiwan
09:11 GMT 01.05.2022 (Updated: 16:24 GMT 05.03.2023)
© AP Photo / Ng Han GuanSupporters of Taiwan's 2020 presidential election candidate for the KMT, or Nationalist Party, Han Kuo-yu pass along a giant Taiwanese flag for the start of a campaign rally in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung city on Friday, Jan 10, 2020
© AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
The US must stop supplying Taiwan with weapons, the Chinese embassy in Washington announced on Saturday, adding that Beijing reserves the right to respond should foreign powers meddle in affairs on the island it considers an inalienable part of its territory and a breakaway province that must one day be reunited with the mainland.
A top-level US delegation including Kurt Campbell, the White House Indo-Pacific co-ordinator, and Laura Rosenberger, the top National Security Council China official, met with UK officials in early March to hammer out contingency plans in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan, the Financial Times has reported.
The brainstorming was supposedly part of a broader two-day meeting between the US-UK teams on Indo-Pacific strategy, according to cited sources.
Washington was reportedly prompted to step up its engagement on the issue with European allies, such as the UK, by what the Joe Biden administration considers to be Beijing’s increasingly assertive attitude regarding Taiwan.
The island has been governed independently since 1949, when it split from mainland China during a civil war that resulted in the Communist Party taking control.
Beijing, whose official policy envisages a peaceful unification of Taiwan with mainland China, has engaged in rounds of talks with island authorities over several decades. Taipei, however, has persistently rejected Beijing’s proposal for "one country, two systems".
The US-UK meeting in March is believed to have discussed London extending more diplomatic outreach to Taipei, as well as deterrence-boosting measures in Asia. The discussion also reportedly included talks about the potential British role in a US-China stand-off over Taiwan.
The meeting between the American and UK officials was the “highest-level” and “most significant” dialogue about Taiwan that has taken place between the two countries and is part of a “deeper policy conversation” launched by the Biden administration, an official was cited as saying, adding:
“Naturally, crisis planning would be a hefty chunk of any such conversation about Taiwan.”
The White House has not offered any official comment on the Taiwan meeting.
The American administration’s enhanced engagement with the UK regarding Taiwan comes against the backdrop of its more advanced discussions with Japan and Australia.
In a measure of how far the Biden administration is prepared to increase cooperation on the matter, some allies are now being provided with intelligence about Taiwan that was previously classified “NOFORN”, added sources. This designation typically bars information sharing with any foreign officials.
© AFP 2023 / ROYAL NAVY / CROWN COPYRIGHTThis handout image provided by the official Twitter account of Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Royal Navy, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group on July 6, 2021 shows a view of the vessels of the strike group sailing behind the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier through Egypt's Suez Canal.
This handout image provided by the official Twitter account of Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Royal Navy, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group on July 6, 2021 shows a view of the vessels of the strike group sailing behind the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier through Egypt's Suez Canal.
© AFP 2023 / ROYAL NAVY / CROWN COPYRIGHT
Last year, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, a British aircraft carrier, was deployed in the Indo-Pacific for more than six months as part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group that had embarked upon a 28-week deployment around the world in a “projection of force”.
A senior Taiwanese official was cited as saying that Taipei was aware of reportedly enhanced US efforts to involve more allies in its Taiwan planning.
“They’ve been doing it with Japan and Australia, and now they’re trying to do it with Britain,” he was cited as saying.
Earlier in the week, UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, suggested NATO should play a greater role in Asia.
“We need to pre-empt threats in the Indo-Pacific, working with allies such as Japan and Australia to ensure that the Pacific is protected. We must ensure that democracies such as Taiwan are able to defend themselves,” said Truss.
13 April 2022, 01:43 GMT
As Beijing increasingly stepped up military activity around Taiwan over the past year, flying more warplanes near the island, speculation that China could make a move against Taiwan grew after Russia launched its special operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine on 24 February.
Earlier in March, former US President Donald Trump claimed that “Taiwan is next” in an interview with Maria Bartiromo, the host of Fox Business’ 'Mornings With Maria'.
Weighing in on the speculations, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi rejected the comparison with the Russian operation, saying “the Taiwan question and the Ukraine issue are different in nature and are not comparable at all”.
"The most fundamental difference is Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and the Taiwan question completely belongs to China's domestic affairs," he said, adding: "The scheme to use Taiwan to contain China is doomed to fail."
The US ended formal recognition of Taiwan after it established diplomatic relations with mainland China's Communist government in 1979. US President Joe Biden reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the "One-China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances" during a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2021.
29 April 2022, 13:40 GMT
Nevertheless, Washington has continued openly to send military aid to Taiwan, after a contract to buy $17 billion of weapons, warplanes and military supplies from the US was inked in 2019, despite the two countries having no formal relations.
On Saturday, the spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the US, Liu Pengyu, accused Washington and Taiwan of colluding with each other.
“Some people deliberately draw a parallel between Taiwan and Ukraine, despite the fact that these are two fundamentally different issues. Their goal is to mislead the public and benefit from it," he said.
Liu stressed that Beijing would spare no effort to achieve Taiwan's peaceful unification with China.