Taiwan is the “most dangerous” flashpoint in US-China relations – but outright conflict is unlikely, former Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said.
“During the US-Soviet Cold War, which lasted 40 years, nuclear deterrence kept the peace at least between the two main ones. I think it will again keep the peace between the US and China,” he said. Kausikan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia”. Wednesday.
According to nuclear deterrence theory, the possibility of a country using its nuclear weapons to retaliate will deter an enemy state from attacking.
Beijing claims Taiwan, an autonomous democratic island, as a fleeing province that must be reunited with the mainland – using force if necessary. decision The Chinese Communist Party, which turns 100 on Thursday, has never ruled Taiwan.
In recent years, the United States has moved closer to Taiwan, angering China, which considers that the island has no right to conduct its own diplomacy.
Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister and keen observer of China, said Taiwan’s unification with the mainland remains an “unfinished business” for the CCP.
He said the Chinese military had planned for years to secure Taiwan’s “return” and that China could act if President Xi Jinping was re-elected as party and country leader at a CCP congress in the end of next year.
Xi, who has been president since 2013, is expected to get another term after China removed presidential term limits.
âI think we will then enter a period in which China will consider its options to bring Taiwan back into some form of political union with China by the end of the 2020s and the 2030s,â Rudd told Wednesday. CNBC’s “Capital Connection”. “And that’s when I think it gets dangerous for all of us.”
Other observers have warned that the risk of a US-Chinese military clash over Taiwan was increasing.
Kausikan, who is currently president of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, said “accidents can always happen.”
However, he added that the United States and China will probably do “their best to contain such accidents if they do occur.”
Previously, Kausikan was Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and was Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The United States and Taiwan resumed stalled trade talks on Wednesday. These discussions under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement last took place when former US President Barack Obama was in office.
Taiwan has reportedly said it hopes the two sides can “gradually” move towards a trade deal.
But Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, who spoke to CNBC ahead of the talks, said President Joe Biden had not indicated whether he was interested in a deal with the ‘Isle.
“Taiwan is isolated and we should be ready to negotiate trade deals with Taiwan, it is our 10th trading partner,” she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” Wednesday.
Glaser added that within the framework of the World Trade Organization, Taiwan has the right to negotiate trade agreements with other members. She pointed out that Beijing had supported Taiwan’s trade deals with Singapore and New Zealand in the past.
But China would not be happy with the trade talks between the United States and Taiwan, Glaser said.
Yet Beijing would not see such negotiations as a signal of US support for Taiwan independence, she added.