On Sunday, a state-run media outlet in China warned of “severe” military and economic repercussions for Taiwan if Washington allows the self-ruled island to change the name of its representative office in the United States.
According to a Financial Times report from Friday, President Joe Biden’s administration is considering changing the office’s name from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to “Taiwan Representative Office.”
The Chinese newspaper warned that such a move would enrage Beijing and result in a “severe” military and economic response:
“If the U.S. and the Taiwan island change the names, they are suspected of touching the red line of China’s Anti-Secession Law, and the Chinese mainland will have to take severe economic and military measures to combat the arrogance of the U.S. and the island of Taiwan. At that time, the mainland should impose severe economic sanctions on the island and even carry out an economic blockade on the island, depending on the circumstances.”
China considers Taiwan to be part of its sovereign territory and has long warned Washington against providing any assistance to the self-ruled island that might jeopardize its claim.
According to the Financial Times, while the name change effort has support within the administration—White House Asia adviser Kurt Campbell reportedly supports it—a final decision has yet to be made, which would necessitate Biden signing an executive order.
Such a move would coincide with rising tensions between the United States and China.
If this occurs, Chinese mainland fighter jets should fly over Taiwan and the People’s Liberation Army should monitor the island’s airspace, according to the Global Times (PLA). “The name change provides the Chinese mainland with enough reason to strengthen our sovereignty over Taiwan. The Taiwanese army is unlikely to dare to stop the PLA fighter jets from flying over the island. If the Taiwan side dares to open fire, the Chinese mainland will not hesitate to deal a decisive and destructive blow to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.”
Taiwan, too, opened a “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Lithuania this summer, prompting China to recall its ambassador from the European country. The US and Taiwanese governments have not officially commented on the possibility of a name change, but according to the Financial Times, the Chinese embassy in Washington has stated that it “firmly opposes” any official US interaction with Taiwan.
“It must stop any official interaction with Taiwan, refrain from sending any wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces or attempting to challenge China’s bottom line, and handle Taiwan-related matters properly and prudently, so as not to seriously harm China-US relations and cross-Strait peace and stability,” an embassy spokesperson told the news outlet. The Global Times warned on Sunday that China must take “decisive actions” to defend its territorial claim over Taiwan, stating that the country should be prepared to “blow [the United States] out of the water in the Taiwan Straits.”
“The United States has been engaging in phrase mongering, hoping that the ‘competition’ between China and the United States will not evolve into a ‘conflict.’ We must tell them clearly with our actions that the ‘competition’ with the Chinese mainland on the Taiwan question is bound to turn into a serious conflict, and there is absolutely no room for maneuver,” the state-run media outlet wrote.