Tsai’s ‘transit’ sends wrong signal to secessionist forces

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen's meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California's Simi Valley last week was a gross violation of the three Sino-US joint communiques by Washington.

I wonder what former US president Reagan would have said about the meeting. When Reagan paid a state visit to China in April 1984(former president Richard Nixon was the first to pay a state visit in 1972 while his successor Gerald Ford made an official visit in 1975), he underlined at a banquet hosted by his Chinese counterpart Li Xiannian the need for "mutual respect and mutual benefit" between the two sides, and even tried out a few phrases in Mandarin.

Where there is a will there will also be a way to achieve national reunification peacefully

Reagan also said that the people of China and the United States share a sincere desire for peace and prosperity, and that by working together, emphasizing the areas of agreement, everyone will benefit.

Alas, his words of wisdom are out of fashion on Capitol Hill. Instead, China bashing is one of the very few issues the Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree on.

Incidentally, McCarthy's tricky game reached its climax on the eve of the constructive meetings of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Beijing. Unlike many other top politicians in the 27-nation EU who continue to defend unipolar "Atlanticism", Macron is the most prominent proponent of the European vision of strategic autonomy, which necessarily entails a multipolar system.

More heads of state and government as well as foreign ministers from the EU should adhere to Macron's vision so that Europe could, for instance, play the badly-needed role of a balancing force in the conflict-ridden geopolitics.

Tsai's "stay" in the US was officially dubbed "transit" by Washington. That's a misnomer. In the travel industry, "transit" means just changing planes at an airport, while "stopover" customarily means staying at least overnight and leaving the airport the next day. Well, the latter is what obviously happened during Tsai's trip to and from Central America via the US.

Tsai's tour coincided with former Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou's visit to the Chinese mainland, accompanied by a group of Taiwan students. And as he had said earlier, Ma, along with the students, visited Fudan University in Shanghai. Ma was right when he said that advancing exchanges between young people across the Straits is "the most urgent task of our generation".

Ma is the first former leader of the island to visit the mainland. He also met Mr Xi Jinping in Singapore on Nov 7, 2015.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry described Tsai's "transit" through the US as a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiques, adding that it seriously infringes upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and sends an egregiously wrong signal to the "Taiwan independence" separatist forces.

Moreover, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the US reaffirmed that the Taiwan question is the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations and the first redline that should never be crossed in this bilateral relationship.

I hope more Taiwan people follow in Ma's footsteps by adopting, once again, a realistic cross-Straits approach, based on the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

Let's be realistic. "Taiwan independence" is a dead-end policy and dangerous to boot. Let's also be optimistic. Where there is a will there will also be a way to achieve national reunification peacefully. It won't be easy. It may need time. But it can be done — as long as the international community regards the matter as an internal affair of China.

The author is the director of the Macau Post Daily.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.