- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2021

hard-line Chinese Communist Party state media outlet on Tuesday warned that Beijing could conduct military or other action against the United States in response to stepped-up American overtures toward Taiwan.

Global Times stated in an editorial that China needs to respond strongly to a significant policy shift toward the self-governing island state that was announced Saturday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The outlet warned that the action is needed before President Trump leaves office Jan. 20.

“When they cross the line over the Taiwan question, we need to strike back firmly and hard,” Global Times said. “We must turn the fight against them in the last 10 days of the Trump administration into a process that draws a clear bottom line with the U.S. and the island of Taiwan, showing both of them the severe consequences if they ever really touch the bottom line — this is a process to establish China‘s prestige.”

The unusually harsh rhetoric comes as the Trump administration is stepping up diplomatic action designed to move the United States closer to democratic Taiwan and pressuring Beijing. Mr. Pompeo  has been a major target of political attack by Chinese state media.

“We need to see this as a rare window of opportunity for the Chinese mainland to do something about the Taiwan question,” the organ stated in an unsigned editorial Monday.

Chinese state media reports reflect the views of the ruling Communist Party under President Xi Jinping, that has turned sharply toward hardline communism and much tougher rhetoric aimed at Washington.

“The U.S. has been embroiled in serious chaos caused by the loss of control over the epidemic and a bumpy transfer of power,” the paper said

Trump administration officials have said privately that they are concerned China could launch some type of military provocation against Taiwan in the waning days of the administration.

According to Global Times, the need for response follows the announcement by Mr. Pompeo that the State Department is ending all self-imposed restrictions on contacts by diplomats and military officers with Taiwan’s government.

The Chinese also were upset by the announced visit to Taiwan this week by Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, although that visit has apparently been called off because of the need for administration officials to work on Bidentransition matters.

The outlet earlier issued a threat to Mr. Pompeo warning him against traveling to Taiwan before the close of the Trump administration. A planned trip by Mr. Pompeo to Europe later this week was also scrubbed because of transition pressures Tuesday.

China needs to “resolutely crack down on these saboteurs and take drastic measures against them before their destruction gravely impairs China‘s core interests,” the Global Times editorial read in part. It also urged  China‘s leaders to avoid “entanglement” until the Trump policy team leaves office – presumably a reference to a major political crisis or possibly military conflict.

China’s “game tools” for confronting the United States have grown the fastest, the organ said, noting that Beijing has “refrained from taking actions in pursuit of peaceful reunification” of the mainland with Taiwan.

“But China‘s rapidly growing power is in the best position to be used in the region, which will deal a heavy blow to US arrogance,” Global Times said.

The outlet concluded: “We would rather face a Taiwan Straits crisis, even a storm, in the next 10 days if Pompeo and his likes become more aggressive and provocative before leaving office. The crisis will teach Taiwan secessionists a lesson and nail Pompeo and his ilk to the pillar of shame.”

If striking back at the United States shocks U.S.-China relations during the transition to a new administration, it will bring more benefits to the normal development of bilateral relations in the long term,” the outlet said.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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