Carpenter regarded this incidence as another step in the deterioration of relations between Beijing and Taipei since the successful winning of the presidency and legislature in Taiwan by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). China's Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council did make a statement about the incident, "(it) caused severe impact at a time when the Mainland has repeatedly emphasized development of peaceful cross-strait relations." Carpenter pointed out even though Tsai Ying-Wen was not as strident as Chen Shui-Bian in open advocacy of independence for Taiwan, but she embarked on an extremely conciliatory policy towards Japan. Indeed, she is seemingly following the directive of Lee Deng-Hui, the former Taiwan President born by a Japanese parent, to resist Mainland China by leaning towards Japan. After Tsai's inauguration, Taiwan for the first time held a memorial service for the victims of the Tiananmen student protest which is a sore spot now openly admitted by the CCP. These recent events may be interpreted as having damaging effect on the cross-strait relations. But whether or not Taiwan
Strait can be characterized as a ticking time bomb is questionable.
Based on the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act passed by the U.S. Congress, the United States has a real, however loosely defined, obligation to defend Taiwan if she is attacked. This is the fundamental reason for Carpenter to write his warning article that Taiwan is a time bomb and the U.S. needs to re-evaluate her Taiwan policy in view of the above incidents that are occurring. Carpenter was right to point out that if the fishing trawler was a Mainlander’s boat or worse a Mainland naval vessel, the reaction of the Mainland would not be a mild one. However, Taiwan- Strait may be a time bomb, but in my view, it is not a ticking time bomb since its fuse lead is controlled by a two-step ignition switch, one in the hands of Mainland China and another in the hands of the U.S. Carpenter's concern is well taken, but neither Mainland China nor the U.S. has the intention of throwing the ignition switch yet. Therefore the Taiwan-Strait bomb is not ticking from both the U.S. and Mainland China's point of view.
Let’s agree with Carpenter for a moment that the Taiwan-Strait is a time bomb. We may ask the
Question: Who has set the time for the bomb to explode? I venture to say that neither Mainland China nor the United States is the one setting the time. In fact, based on ‘the joint Shanghai Communiqué’ announced in 1972, the United States recognized the one and only China and expected a unification process without a specific time table for the Mainland and Taiwan. Since Mainland China has not set a time table for ‘unification’ with Taiwan, thus, Taiwan-Strait is never considered as a time bomb as far as China and the U.S. are concerned. However, Carpenter's concern is not entirely groundless based on the events happening in the past decade. Taiwan's democracy is seriously challenged, not from Mainland China rather from Taiwan’s internal changes. The current Taiwan-Strait situation can be described with a biological metaphor - growth of a tumor turning to be cancerous. Cancer is like a time bomb and its explosion is unpredictable. The only effective treatment for cancer is to find the causes of its growth and then remove or suppress the causes. Conversely, if the cancerous cells are fed with stimulating fuel, then an explosion in the Taiwan-Strait is not only possible but unavoidable.
The anti-Mainland China attitude and policy are the fuel feeding the growth of cancerius cells in Taiwan. What the Americans, the Mainland Chinese and the Taiwan people should ask is a question: while Mainland China is embracing capitalism and trying government reform making concrete progress for the people and the economy, (by the way, it is for the people world-wide and for the benefit of the global economy), why does the DPP of Taiwan conduct a 'hate' government in the name of democracy? A small group of people in DPP hate history, hate mainlanders, hate veterans, even smear the Chinese culture and inheritance and distort Taiwan’s history, brainwash the youth and create hatred among Taiwan’s residents. Why? Don't they know they are feeding the cancer and they are ticking the time bomb?
Mainland China has offered Taiwan trade favors, privileged status for Taiwan residents to enter the Mainland and do business there, as well as breathing space on the world stage; and they have not applied any real military threat to Taiwan for decades. Why does the DPP still paint Mainland China as a brutal regime? Are the Hong Kong people worse off than 20 years ago? Are the Tibet people worse off than 20, 30, 50, or 70 years ago? No, they are not. Chinese people world-wide are cheering for the change and transformation of China and they are trying to stop the Cold War mentality of the world - no hatred, no jealousy, no discrimination but embracing collaboration and co-prosperity. China has a long history which has shown that the Chinese people are not war mongers. Chinese has absorbed aggressors, for example, the Mongolians and the Manchurians and cultivated them into Chinese with their peace loving Chinese culture.
American citizens may not have paid enough attention to the Chinese history, but they are not stupid to ignore the facts if presented to them. An Anti-China strategy may be pushed by Japan to woo the U.S. and her ‘Pivot to Asia Pacific’ policy but the U.S. is clearly weighing all the pros and cons and carefully balancing her geopolitical interests. The U.S. military industrial complex may be leaning towards a legacy foreign policy, but the debate on the right China policy is still going on. China has been growing too fast and she realizes that the fast economic growth is not sustainable. For self interests, the U.S., of course, would rather see China to grow at a moderate non-threatening rate. So in reality, the U.S. and China really do not have an irreconcilable conflict. Therefore, there is no reason for the U.S. or China to turn on the ignition switch of the Taiwan-Strait bomb, so dramatically characterized by Carpenter.
No, Americans will not fight and die for Taiwan's fake ideology battle, especially when it has all the signs of right-wing Japanese imperialist notions: denying and white washing war history and justifying Japan's invasion and colonization of Taiwan. The current South China Sea saga will be only a temporary distraction to China for slowing down China’s fast rise. The U.S. will let no one, neither Japan nor Taiwan; hijack her U.S. China policy as she realizes that the US-China relationship is so critical to her future as well as to the world economy. Eventually the American people with better understanding of the historical facts about Taiwan, South China Sea and China will steer the US China policy back to a mutually beneficial path!