The possibility of a full-scale China-Taiwan War has reached an ‘all-time high’ as tensions across the Taiwan Strait have escalated to dangerous levels, according to a Beijing-backed think tank.
The China Cross-Strait Academy said its researchers analyzed factors including military power, bilateral trade, public opinion, political events and backing from the allies, concluding that China and Taiwan are “on the brink of war”, SCMP reported.
The China Cross-Strait Academy is based in Hong Kong and led by Lei Xiying, a committee member of the Communist Party-backed All-China Youth Federation.
Its result was based on an index of the risk level of armed conflict across the Taiwan strait, which the researchers put at 7.21 for 2021 on a scale of 10. They said in the early 1950s, when the Nationalist forces escaped from the mainland to Taiwan, the index was at 6.7. It wavered above 6.5 for much of the 1970s but fell to 4.55 in 1978 when the US established diplomatic ties with Beijing. During the Trump administration, the index just passed the 6 mark.
Lei, who heads the new think tank, said the changing political dynamic across the Taiwan Strait and the US’s closer ties with Taiwan were two “destructive factors” that could flare up the conflict.
“If the current trend continues … China’s unification of Taiwan by force will only be a matter of time,” he said
Earlier, China had expressed serious concerns after the US Navy destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait. The United States had sent its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Curtis Wilbur through the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate its commitment to free navigation in the region, a move that seriously provoked Beijing.
“The USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) sailed through the Taiwan Strait on May 18 and hyped it publicly. China is firmly opposed to it,” Air Force Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, the spokesman for the Chinese army Eastern Theater Command said.
According to Zhang, the United States sent an “erroneous signal” to those who support the idea of independent Taiwan, destabilizing the regional situation. He added that China’s troops conducted the tracking and monitoring of the US ship, and stands ready to respond to any threats and provocations.
China has repeatedly stated that the Taiwan issue is the most sensitive in bilateral relations between the US and China. Beijing considers Taiwan a ‘renegade province’ and routinely protests whenever US warships transit through the region.
Despite the lack of formal relations between Taiwan and the United States, Washington has a pact to supply Taiwan with defensive armaments and vowed to defend the democratic government of Taiwan.
The US has been strengthening its outreach to Taiwan and reassuring the island of its unwavering support. Last September, the US also sent the highest-level state department official in decades to visit the island, a move that infuriated Beijing.
Chinese officials strongly criticized the move, warning the US “not to send any wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ elements to avoid severely damaging China-US ties”.
This year, President Joe Biden’s administration has said its commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid” and has not shown any signs to back down.