US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the media on Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will provide China a "victory of sorts" if she backs off from an expected trip to Taiwan, and urged the United States to sell more weapons to Taiwan.
This is totally absurd, but a very representative and telling sign that more and more politicians on the US side are willing to ignore the redline of Beijing on the Taiwan question, perhaps failing to recognize the Taiwan question's extreme sensitivity as their predecessors did.
Yet all the presidents of the US since 1979 when the US and China established diplomatic relations－including incumbent Joe Biden and his predecessor who have both pushed the envelope in the US' China containment policy－have stressed their commitment to the one-China principle and that sound relations with China not only benefit the two sides, but also the rest of the world.
The US politicians speculating on the Taiwan question are seriously harming the US' national interests. But the scales have tipped and endorsing Taiwan's secessionists has become a seemingly mainstream view within the political circle in Washington and a bipartisan agreement in Congress, which means US politicians are not bothered about breaking any fences as they no longer regard Sino-US relations as being mutually beneficial.
The zero-sum game mentality that the China-bashers in Washington have peddled over the past few years has increasingly become the dominant mindset in Washington, thanks to the anxiety that the US is in danger of losing its hegemony and its institutional deficiencies that have prevented the effective addressing of domestic challenges. Making China an enemy has buttered the bread on both sides.
The Chinese side has certainly taken note of what is happening. It is reportedly preparing itself for either eventuality, ties being mended or ties continuing to worsen.
On a positive note, over the past month, Chinese and US high-level officials involved in strategy, diplomatic, national defense, economic and trade affairs have held at least five meetings and these have reportedly accumulated conditions for further high-level exchanges between the two countries.
But it has been more than four months since the two state leaders talked on the phone and since then the US side has failed to match words with deeds.
If the US side continues to say one thing and do another, then what have been described as "candid" and "constructive" exchanges will be nothing more than a veneer of decency on the part of the US.
High-level contacts are essential to stop ties from going into free fall, but the US must act to show that it is being sincere in what it says, otherwise they serve little purpose.