SINGAPORE – The United States and China should negotiate “safeguards” and create a direct and open communication channel so its leaders can contact each other quickly across Taiwan to stave off conflict, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said on Wednesday (January 19).
He spoke virtually at the Third Hong Kong Forum on US-China relations, noting that China has on countless occasions reiterated that it will take military action if Taiwan crosses Beijing’s red lines and takes a step towards independence.
But a big unknown is where the turning point lies, Mr Goh said.
To avoid miscalculations leading to military conflict, the United States and China should create the 21st century equivalent of the “red telephone,” he added.
Sir. Goh referred to the secure system used by US and Soviet leaders to communicate after the two powers came close to a 1962 nuclear war over the installation of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.
“My biggest concern is whether Taiwan will become a casus belli. I do not think the mainland wants to invade Taiwan and reunite it by force. But if it sees no prospect of peaceful reunification, it may think it has no choice, ” he said. , referring to how Taiwan could become the problem provoking war between the United States and China.
“The more international space Taiwan gains, which Beijing sees as a result of tacit encouragement from the United States, the more the mainland will increase the pressure on Taiwan.”
Mr. Goh said there was mutual strategic mistrust between the United States and China stemming from the difference in values, ideologies, worldviews, political systems and perspectives on global governance.
The United States, after assessing China as its main strategic competitor and a threat to US national security and values, has strengthened its Asia-Pacific military capabilities and has also drawn attention to alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, he noted. .
“From Washington’s perspective, China is not following the established rules of global order despite being a main beneficiary. Instead, China is seeking to rewrite these rules to its advantage,” he added. Goh.
Meanwhile, Beijing sees this at best as Washington’s containment strategy to prevent China’s progress, and at worst as a long-term strategy to weaken China and break it up, he said.
Therefore, China is building more defensive and offensive capabilities that are necessary to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, he added.