OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
As the United States grapples to deal with the rapidly unraveling situation in Afghanistan, which was prompted by President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of US military forces from the country, China has seized upon Biden’s apparent inaction and inability to respond to the Taliban’s total takeover of the country by firing a warning at Taiwan.
Under the auspices of the Biden administration, the United States has lost much of its standing in the eyes of the world, turning it into a sort of paper tiger — an accusation lobbed at its Chinese rivals for decades.
Biden’s actions in Afghanistan have prompted criticism from top US allies, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who slammed his American counterpart for accelerating tensions in Afghanistan.
Communist China has long stated its ambitions to take over the sovereign nation of Taiwan, asserting that it is the rightful owner of the nation.
The United States, long considered an ally of Taiwan, has maintained a stabilizing presence in the region by supporting Taiwan against the military ambitions of its much larger neighbor.
On Monday, following the collapse of the Afghan government in Kabul to the Taliban amid Biden’s disastrous pullout of US forces, the Global Times, a Chinese tabloid newspaper that serves as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper warned Taiwan that the United States would abandon the country in its hour of need should China invade.
The Global Times asserts that “The US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan has led to the rapid demise of the Kabul government. The world has witnessed how the US evacuated its diplomats by helicopter while Taliban soldiers crowded into the presidential palace in Kabul. This has dealt a heavy blow to the credibility and reliability of the US.”
The publication reminded Taiwanese readers of the United States’ pullout from Vietnam, and how the Vietnam war ended in 1975 with the abandonment of the South Vietnamese government.
Saigon was overrun, and the United States evacuated almost all its citizens in Saigon.
The tabloid segued into a hypothetical situation in which Taiwan faces down Chinese military might.
“How Washington abandoned the Kabul regime particularly shocked some in Asia, including the island of Taiwan,” read the paper. “Taiwan is the region that relies on the protection of the US the most in Asia, and the island’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have made Taiwan go further and further down this abnormal path. The situation in Afghanistan suddenly saw a radical change after the country was abandoned by the US and Washington just left despite the worsening situation in Kabul. Is this some kind of omen of Taiwan’s future fate?”
Directing its message to Taiwan’s leaders, the paper speculated that they must “have been nervous and feel an ominous presentiment. They must have known better in secret that the US is not reliable.”
“Once a cross-Straits war breaks out while the mainland seizes the island with forces, the US would have to have a much greater determination than it had for Afghanistan, Syria, and Vietnam if it wants to interfere,” the paper warned. “A military intervention of the US will be a move to change the status quo in the Taiwan Straits, and this will make Washington pay a huge price rather than earn profit.”
“The DPP authorities need to keep a sober head, and the secessionist forces should reserve the ability to wake up from their dreams. From what happened in Afghanistan, they should perceive that once a war breaks out in the Straits, the island’s defense will collapse in hours and the US military won’t come to help. As a result, the DPP authorities will quickly surrender, while some high-level officials may flee by plane,” the paper added.
The Chinese newspaper concluded its message with a suggestion for Taiwan to cut its ties with the United States.
“The best choice for the DPP authorities is to avoid pushing the situation to that position. They need to change their course of bonding themselves to the anti-Chinese mainland chariot of the US. They should keep cross-Straits peace with political means, rather than acting as strategic pawns of the US and bear the bitter fruits of a war,” the publication suggested.