Is China Forging Asian Alliance For South China Sea Invasion?
A historic meeting between Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore on Saturday took place after almost 70 years of a bitter relationship. Mr Xi is also visiting Vietnam – a first by a Chinese president in more than ten years.Advertisement
The two momentous visits come in the wakes of heightened tensions over the disputed South China Sea and after the U.S. showed relentless aim of patrolling the contested region.
With China and Taiwan’s long-standing feud, the meeting between the two leaders could spell betrayal for the people they rule back in their respective countries. As Vox noted, the Chinese think that Taiwanese are rebels for claiming independence from China. For Taiwan, on the other hand, the move by Mr. Ma may be viewed as a step forward for reunification, which they are very much against. It does not help that the meeting was scheduled in haste.
Some think that the landmark visit initiated by China is aimed at influencing Taiwan’s January elections. Mr Xi is said to be concerned about Tsai Ing-wen possibly winning the presidential seat. Under such scenario, Taiwanese independence will be strongly uphold – something Mr. Xi would not allow anymore. The Chinese leader believes Taiwan’s separation from the mainland is an issue that should not remain unresolved forever.
On Thursday, Mr. Xi visited Vietnam with the goal of strengthening economic relations between the two nations, Bloomberg reported. He did this despite having people angry at China’s provocative activities over the disputed region. Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington, believes the visit by the Chinese leader is two-pronged. “This is not just a state visit, but also a party-to-party visit to weigh in on Vietnam’s politics. The Chinese are very concerned you are going to get a group of people in power who are much more predisposed to improving ties and economic relations with the U.S.,” he told Bloomberg.
If China is able to mend relationships with Taiwan and Vietnam, it will have an all-encompassing claim over South China Sea. Taiwan has territorial claims over Natuna Islands, Scarborough Shoal, and Spratly Islands. Vietnam is claiming parts of the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands and areas in the Gulf of Thailand.