Published: 12:51, April 22, 2024
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Aid bills' intention to contain China belies US' commitment to repairing bilateral ties
By China Daily

Although the two military aid bills regarding Ukraine and Israel caught the attention of the world, the two other bills in the aid package the United States House of Representatives passed on Saturday also deserve attention as they concern the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

The so-called "Indo-Pacific" Security Supplemental Bill includes $8.1 billion to counter Beijing's "actions" in the "Indo-Pacific" region, $3.3 billion to develop submarine infrastructure, $2 billion in military financing for Taiwan and other key allies, and $1.9 billion to replenish defense items and services provided to Taiwan and regional partners.

The so-called 21st Century Peace through Strength Act, meanwhile, includes a measure that could lead to a nationwide ban in the US on TikTok, a short-form video hosting service owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance.

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In his speech on the aid package on Saturday shortly after its passing, House Speaker Mike Johnson didn't mince his words in claiming that China is one of the three primary "adversaries" to the US, along with Russia and Iran, that threatens the "free world".

Both the content of the two China-related bills and the remarks of Johnson constitute grave violations of the series of statements the Joe Biden administration has made on Sino-US relations, and threatens to ruin the efforts that are being made to repair the fraught relationship.

In their talk by telephone on April 2, US President Joe Biden reiterated to his Chinese counterpart that the US does not seek a new Cold War, its objective is not to change China's system, its alliances are not targeted against China, it does not support "Taiwan independence", it adheres to the one-China policy and it does not seek conflict with China.

President Biden also stressed that it is in the interest of the world for China to succeed. The US does not want to curtail China's development, and does not seek "decoupling" from China, calling relations with China the most "consequential" bilateral ties in the world.

As agreed by the two leaders, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen concluded her second China trip since July earlier this month, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is the next senior member of the Biden administration due to visit China to strengthen dialogue and communication, avoid miscalculation and promote cooperation, so as to advance the relationship on a stable path and jointly respond to global challenges.

Yet, with the Taiwan separatists hailing the US side's "rock solid" commitment to their cause and Chinese companies complaining about politicized and unfair treatment, the onus is on the US side to explain how the two China-related bills conform to Biden's multiple "does not", and how they can help the US manage differences with China "in a responsible way", as President Biden has vowed to.

The bills are highly likely to be passed in the US Senate and signed by President Biden into law. If so, almost all aforementioned China-related statements the US leader has kept reiterating since his first exchange with the Chinese leader will prove to be empty talk, and the Sino-US relations will suffer a heavy blow rendering the efforts the two sides have made together to promote communications since the two leaders' meeting in San Francisco in November in vain.

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Those in the US holding the view that the US can cooperate with China where they should, keep communication where they can, and confront China where it has no choice should realize that the Taiwan question concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and core interests, and any careless move by Washington would lead to catastrophic consequences.

US House Speaker Mike Johnson quoted an old US military adage to conclude his speech on the aid package: "We would rather send bullets to the conflicts overseas than our own boys or troops." That should be a direct reminder to the intended receivers of the aid to Taiwan of what their US ally is asking from them in return.