After Taiwan's defense ministry inspired a wave of alarming headlines in the global press with his warning that Beijing would be capable and ready for a military invasion of Taiwan by 2025, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen sought to de-escalate the situation - which was initially provoked by Beijing's latest streak of military muscle-flexing by repeatedly violating Taiwan's air defense zone - by proclaiming that Taiwan doesn't seek military confrontation, but will do whatever it takes to defend its freedom.
Tsai's statement also follows revelations in the American media that, for at least a year now, US Marine special forces have been quietly stationed in Taiwan, and have been training small contingents of Taiwanese ground forces, while also working with maritime forces on small-boats training.
President Tsai Ing-wen
Whether or not Beijing knew about this deployment previously, the official response was menacing, with one popular media mouthpiece for the CCP suggesting that China should have blasted the foreign "invaders" since the US refused to be transparent and honest.
In her comments, Tsai criticized Beijing's provocations, while reaffirming that Taipei's top priority is peace.
Taiwan has complained for more than a year of such activities, which it views as "grey zone warfare", designed to wear out Taiwan's armed forces and test their ability to respond.
"Taiwan does not seek military confrontation," Tsai told a security forum in Taipei.
"It hopes for a peaceful, stable, predictable and mutually-beneficial coexistence with its neighbours. But Taiwan will also do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life."
As Reuters reminds us, Beijing has repeatedly blamed the US for stoking tensions with Taiwan by inking arms deals and taking steps toward strengthening diplomatic ties with Taipei, infuriating Beijing, which insists that this violates the spirit of America's commitments to the "One China" policy. And it's not just the US: other western allies have joined in. Just this week, Taiwan welcomed lawmakers from France and former Aussie PM Tony Abbott (who said he was visiting in a personal capacity).
While Beijing has threatened to retaliate against any foreign power that would dare interfere in China's domestic affairs (which it considers the Taiwan situation to be), Taiwan insists that it is doing whatever it can to work with other powers in the region to "ensure stability."
The Indo-Pacific must remain peaceful, stable and transparent, Tsai said. But the many "opportunities" in the region "also brings new tensions and systemic contradictions that could have a devastating effect on international security and the global economy if they are not handled carefully."
Taiwan will work with other nations to accomplish this and "is fully committed to collaborating with regional players to prevent armed conflict in the East China, South China Seas and in the Taiwan Strait."
While the US still officially recognizes the "One China" policy, it's also obligated to help arm and defend Taiwan should China ever try to seize the territory by force. But even the US military is well aware that, almost no matter how much help and aid and arms it gives (or sells) to Taiwan, should Beijing choose to pursue it, it could paralyze Taiwan's defenses and seize control of the island without very much effort at all.
Imagine what that would do the semiconductor supply chain...