Friday 18 September


Now, as we just heard, China's navy is acting live fire drills near the Taiwan Strait. There's little doubt about the intended audience because in the slender credit, where'd you file of us? President Donald Trump remains his phone call shortly after his election to President Chang of Taiwan the first time the US president or indeed president-elect had spoken to the Taiwanese counterpart since nine hundred, seventy, nine, president trump clearly understands that there is no more reliable way of winding. Up China then embracing Taiwan, which may be why he has now dispatched the highest ranking American envoy in decades kaethe crutch on the secretary of State for Economic Growth Energy and the environment, a rank which seems calibrated to annoy China even more by making any overt rage on their part appears somewhat silly one joined with more on this by Isabel Hilton CEO of China. Dialogue is a bill first of all the the visit of chief crash and I've allowed time for everybody to furiously Google is just trolling on America's part. And Up to a point you you left often you know one elements in the winding up of list, which is that he's there to attend the memorial service for former president of Taiwan, Li dung-wei who has counted as the most hated Taiwanese in Beijing because leading Guay was the man who really lead Taiwan to democracy and was also an advocate of Taiwan as kind of independent cultural and political entity from China. So he's really not very you know he's definitely not on the Christmas, Card List for sheeting pin and to pay tribute to him is pretty certainly would be read in Beijing as a as a a further effort crime. So what degree of C- Will Beijing be at over this visit? Well I think we're seeing it now. I mean a great deal of of rather dangerous firepower is buzzing around at the moment An. We've seen really since June kind of escalating provocation from China, in sort of entering various kind of buffer zones which are pretty much being respected for decades you know around Taiwan that you can you can threatened and rattler cage but on the whole, it's been recognized that if you if you cross certain. Lines then you are risking at least an accident so. I mean the the the problem was that you know. In. The last well, just today actually eighteen Chinese bomas an and find the jets and Taiwan's advance buffer zone and that caused the cost Taiwan to scramble its jet. You had a lot of very you know serious. Flying around and I think that. Is and that along with the naval exercises and and a great deal of rhetoric is probably as far as it will go. But you know we have seen a prolonged campaign for the last three or four years of diplomatic isolation of kind of steady pressure on Taiwan from China, and certainly this doesn't help. You correctly observed that the US envoy is there to attend the memorial service for a former Taiwanese president. He will also be meeting with the current Taiwanese president is likely that anything of actual substance is being discussed between the president of one country and the Under Secretary of state for you know whatever from the other one or is this again? Largely. Theatrical. I wouldn't count on it being largely theatrical If you know we, we've wh as you know, we have a kind of dealing confrontation between the US and China and some alarming voices in Washington. Are, advocating, for example, the United States should supply nuclear weapons to Taiwan, which would be pretty crazy move in my view. But. There is a commitment from the United States to supply to Taiwan such a defensive Capability as is required now, it would be quite easy to argue that in a situation of enhanced tension greater a military supplies, more more military supplies. Packs more advanced military supplies were required and I would expect that to be part of the conversation I would also expect at least saying went to be exploring the idea of more formal cooperation between Taiwan and the United States last US official. To visit, which was relatively recently that produced an agreement on of collaboration on health I think timing when would very much like to see a free trade agreement with the United States. So again, I think this quite a lot to discuss an I would be surprised if this visit took place without some of them being on the table is anything really likely to shift in the near future though in any direction where this is concerned is everybody involved not basically biting their tongues and one hopes. Metaphorically as well as literally holding their fire until election day in the United States and certainly hope so you know the the US position on Taiwan, which is a it's a treaty obligation to to make sure that Taiwan can defend itself. This doesn't actually commit the United States to coming to the defense of Taiwan, but there is a kind of strategic ambiguity in in this treaty, which is designed to stop Taiwan declaring independence and therefore provoking China to stop China assuming that were it to. Stage a military salt. The. United. States would stand by and and not come to the defense of Taiwan. So the ambiguity in the US position is designed to keep both sides. Calm. Under a trump administration of calm is not a highly valued factor in Washington's calculations but I think. That the hope would be in Washington that enough kind of chest bearing and beating. We'll just keep everybody from doing anything too rash said, he don't think that China would relish an armed conflict, but on the other hand if the United States and Taiwan scenes to provocative in Beijing, in order to satisfy, it's increasingly nationalist domestic opinion and a PLA that seems fairly rested at the moment they might feel obliged to do something and as soon as you do something in a situation like this, then your provoking something very, very dangerous indeed

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