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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Aug. 3)

All News 07:02 August 03, 2022

Stop the game of chicken

A tense tug-of-war between the United States and China over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan sound loud alarms over security in Northeast Asia. She meets Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday. Over U.S. intervention in Taiwan issues, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned U.S. President Joe Biden not to get involved in China's internal affairs. "Those who play with fire will eventually get burned," Xi said. Pelosi's trip to Taiwan reflects the U.S. government's determination not to yield to pressure from Beijing. Following strong warnings from the Global Times, China's state-run tabloid, against her visit — and after a straight warning from China's foreign ministry "not to cross a Maginot Line" — China made public the scene of launching a hypersonic ballistic missile known as the "aircraft carrier-killer."

Showing its respect to the "One China" policy, the White House made it clear that the U.S. does not support Taiwan's independence. And yet, America warned China to not exploit Pelosi's trip to reinforce its military aggressiveness. After a standoff over the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, high technology, trade and democratic values, the conflict simmering between the two countries is being renewed in the Taiwan Strait. It could turn into the worst security crisis since 1996 in the same strait.

A U.S. House Speaker's visit to Taiwan is not the first time. In 1997, when Newt Gingrich went to Taiwan, the Chinese foreign ministry protested but it didn't lead to a conflict. At that time, China was bent on raising its power without exposing itself to outside. This time, China is more sensitive to the visit because of Pelosi's persistent advocacy of human rights and democracy in China. The clash symbolizes the changed U.S.-China power dynamics after China's dramatic rise over the past 25 years.

Worse, such a tight confrontation will certainly continue. Even mentioning unification of Taiwan through force, Xi Jinping wants to extend his five-year presidential term to the third one in the third National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October. Biden also can hardly show the image of a weak leader to the anti-China front before the midterm elections in November. He cannot but use strong presidential rhetoric and foreign policy. Depending on the situation, Beijing could order a massive fleet of fighter jets to fly into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone followed by a stern reaction from Uncle Sam.

If the balance of power is upset in the strait, it could affect the U.S. Forces in Korea and Japan, and have immense impact on the peace of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

The ongoing game of chicken must stop.


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