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Strategic value of Taiwan in China-US relationship decreasing: expert

Huang Jing

The strategic importance of Taiwan has experienced ups and downs in the past three decades since 1979 with the changes in international system, China-US relationship, as well as the rise of China as the world’s second-largest power.

According to Huang Jing, director of Asia and Globalization institute of the National University of Singapore and the author of Factionalism in Chinese Communist Politics, Crisis and Challenges in China-US Relations 1989-1993, as well as Inseparable Separation: The Making of China’s Taiwan Policy, the strategic value of Taiwan in the current China-US relations “is decreasing” as its position in the US global strategy is going down and China’s national power is ranked as the world’s No.2.

Huang made the remarks at a recent seminar in Beijing, and said that “the general situation of Taiwan issue is settled now”, and the question of Taiwan independence and unification should not be a big issue on the table any longer.

This is because the strategic value of Taiwan to the US is not as high as before, and China and the US have “half-consensus” over the Taiwan issue - while China and the US both are opposed to Taiwan independence, they differ in terms of whether the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should unite, according to Huang.

“America will not easily give up their move to prevent the unification, because the unification does not meet their national interest. But the good news is that the intensity of America’s interference is decreasing as the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are more capable than before in managing their relations,” Huang said during the seminar.

Another reason that the US is counting less on Taiwan is the rise of China’s national power.

“Since the beginning of this century, China’s capability in controlling the situation in its neighborhood has increased rapidly. With such capability, China will never step back over the Taiwan issue,” said Huang.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s economy is now “irreversibly” relying on that of the Chinese mainland, Huang noted.

According to Sun Tong, director of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau office of the Commerce Ministry of China, Chinese mainland was still the largest trade partner of Taiwan in 2015, and the trade between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait was better than that between the Chinese mainland and other regions of the world in general.

Data released by the Commerce Ministry in February showed that Taiwan invested in 2,962 projects on the Chinese mainland in 2015, an increase of 27.8% over the previous year.

Huang also added that, “as long as China continues to grow, and the global strategic situation continues to head toward diversification and economic integration, the general situation of Taiwan issue will be stable because the situation (historic trend) is always stronger than people’s will.”

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