China’s foreign minister sent a stark warning to the United States last week over its actions towards Taiwan: stay off Taiwan or “face an unbearable price.”
The minister’s warning comes a couple of weeks after the U.S. invited Taiwan to its Democracy Summit, which Beijing perceived as Washington encouraging the island’s independence. China considers Taiwan as its breakaway province and has stepped the campaign to bring it back.
“The U.S. violated the promises made when China and the U.S. established diplomatic relations, condoned and encouraged ‘Taiwan independence forces, and tried to distort and hollow out the one-China principle,” Wang Yi said last week in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV and official news agency Xinhua broadcast.
“This will not only bring Taiwan into an extremely dangerous situation but also cause the U.S. to face an unbeatable price.”
China’s strong language against the world’s superpower, which made the circles of social media over the weekend, raises an inevitable question: What does Beijing mean with the world “unbearable?”
Apparently, the foreign minister who made the statement has the exact answer. But there are a few possible answers worth entertaining to get to it.
One of the answers is that the world “unbearable” has no meaning. It’s just another harsh word the Chinese regime uses to appease its nationalist base at home and intimidate Taiwan and its Asian neighbors.
Another answer is that the U.S. could suffer heavy casualties if it tries to stand in Beijing’s way to take over the island and enforce its one-China policy. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan’s independence, but it has re-affirmed its commitment to defend the island.
In recent months, China has stepped military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, raising the speculation that Beijing is getting ready to invade the island, which could pit it against the U.S.
Still, Yannis Tsinas, a former Washington military diplomat, doesn’t see this possibility.
“China isn’t ready to confront America yet,” he said. “It’s no match for the American military, which in recent years has taken multiple missions (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Yugoslavia, and Islamic terrorism), where it has used modern weapons in the battlefield…. China has yet to develop such capabilities.”
Meanwhile, Tsinas pointed to the $650 billion U.S. military budget, almost three times China’s $250 billion budget.
“America’s military spending, together with that of its allies, account for more than two-thirds of the world’s military spending,” he added. “That makes it extremely difficult for any nation to go against America and its allies.”
While Tsinas is ruling out an open military intervention of the island by Beijing, he isn’t ruling out the possibility, China changing the status quo in Taiwan by installing a pro-Beijing government—something like what it did in Hong Kong.
In that case, Beijing could re-write the rules of competition for Taiwan’s technology companies, which are at the core of the technology supply chain. Taiwan Semiconductors, for instance, is the manufacturer of the chips designed by many of America’s semiconductor companies. Could anyone imagine what will happen if China imposes a ban on semiconductors from Taiwan to the U.S.?
That would certainly be unbearable for the U.S. military machine that relies on these chips, the U.S. industries, and, of course, Wall Street, which doesn’t seem prepared for it