by Caitlin Johnstone
The US has been increasingly treating Taiwan like a sovereign nation with whom diplomatic relationships and alliances can be formed, in violation of its longstanding One-China policy that has kept the peace for decades. And I just think it’s worth noting that the western media who’ve lately been condoning these moves became outraged at Donald Trump just a few years ago for doing the same thing to a far lesser degree.
After his victory in the 2016 presidential election but before taking office, Trump received a phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, in transgression of Washington’s longstanding policy of declining to acknowledge the sovereignty of Taiwan’s government. This position was enshrined back in the seventies during Washington’s efforts to normalize relations with Beijing in order to pull it away from Moscow during the last cold war, reversing its previous Guaido coup-like policy of insisting that China’s true government was in Taiwan.
The reaction from the mass media was adversarial and immediate. “Donald Trump insults China with Taiwan phone call,” said a headline from CNBC. “Trump’s phone call with Taiwan president risks China’s wrath,” warned The Guardian. “This Is Why Trump’s Taiwan Call Was Truly Bizarre,” said Vanity Fair. “Trump may have just thrown decades of US-China relations into disarray,” exclaimed Vox. “Trump-Taiwan call breaks US policy stance,” said the BBC.”We have what’s called a One-China policy, where we recognize there’s only one Chinese government,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow told her audience after the news of Trump’s phone call broke. “And it took us a long time to get there. It sounds rational now, but it took us a long time — it took us decades to get there — and that’s where we are. And Donald Trump apparently took that silverware drawer out of the kitchen cabinet today and turned it upside down over his head and just started shaking the silverware to see what happens. It took decades to develop the ground on which we talk to China, and Donald Trump tore it up today.”
And yet now we’re seeing dramatically more aggressive erosion of Washington’s One-China policy than a president-elect answering a phone call, all without the mass media blinking an eye. Two successive House speakers have now had physical visits with Tsai Ing-wen, with Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan last August and Kevin McCarthy meeting with Tsai in Washington a few weeks ago.
President Biden has unequivocally stated that the US would go to war against China to defend Taiwan from an attack by the PRC, and his Director of National Intelligence later confirmed that this is indeed the new position of the US government.
Escalations involving Taiwan are developing on a near-daily basis now. In a new article titled “Taiwan Now Has ‘Real Time’ Intelligence Sharing Link With Five Eyes,” Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp discusses the revelation that Taiwan is being integrated into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Taiwan becoming a de facto sixth eye in the alliance would surely be seen as a major provocation by the PRC, who sees Taiwan as a rebel province. And it should here be noted that Russia invaded Ukraine largely because it saw it as gradually being made into a de facto member of the NATO alliance. In another recent article titled “House China Committee Prepares Proposals to Rapidly Arm Taiwan,” DeCamp reports on the latest efforts to ramp up the deluge of military weaponry being sent to the island, again a move which echoes the lead-up to the war in Ukraine. One of the silliest things the US empire asks us to believe is that the act of amassing large proxy arsenals on the borders of its enemies is something that should be regarded as a defensive action, rather than the incendiary provocation of extreme aggression that it self-evidently is.
In another recent article titled “China says Taiwan inviting ‘wolves’ with US defence industry forum,” Reuters reports that Beijing is “extremely concerned” about a US military-industrial complex forum that will be hosted in Taipei next week.This is just in the last few days; reports about these escalations are coming out all the time. And yet the mass media have little or nothing critical to say about any of this.
So what changed since late 2016? Well for one thing Trump is no longer in office, and the imperial narrative managers who hated him because they saw him as an untrustworthy steward of the empire don’t have the same commitment to sowing distrust of the current US president.
More importantly, the agendas of the US empire changed. Ramping up aggressions against China were a back-burner issue back then, and the idea of a military confrontation between the world’s two most powerful countries seemed an unthinkable impossibility. Now the US is rapidly ramping up its military encirclement of China and pouring weapons into Taiwan at a time that just so happens to coincide with China beginning to become the exact sort of rival superpower that the US empire has long had a standing policy of preventing. As the agendas of the empire have changed, so too have the positions of the imperial media. We’re now seeing more and more promotion of anti-China hysteria in the media, and the continuing erosion of the One-China policy is now being overlooked at best and overtly endorsed at worst. While China is being given more and more reasons to see US involvement in Taiwan as an unacceptable threat, the mainstream press are for the most part refusing to apply an appropriate level of scrutiny to the consequences which could begin erupting from this at any time.
Now we’re getting reports that President Xi Jinping directly threatened Biden about Washington’s meddling this past November, saying he will not be the Chinese leader who goes down in history as having lost Taiwan and that there will be war if his hand is forced.
So the worst thing that could happen if we keep going along this trajectory is pretty much as bad as anything you could possibly imagine. The MSM’s negligence on this front is horrifying.