Matthew Pottinger, a deputy national security adviser under Trump, has said that China has “changed the game” under President Xi Jinping with its military threats to Taiwan.
Asked if there were any serious moves toward de-escalation with China within the national security community in Washington, Pottinger said President Xi’s leadership had “pressed the timeline” on Taiwan with comments about not wanting the “Taiwan question” to be passed from generation to generation.
He added that Beijing’s propaganda apparatus now states that Beijing “would be willing to use military pressure not only to deter Taiwan from declaring independence, but in order to compel Taiwan to move actively toward unification.”
Speaking at an online press event to journalists in Taiwan, Pottinger said “the status quo has served everybody pretty darn well,” and Beijing is seeking to change it, with its buildup of missiles pointed at Taiwan.
On the issue of improving relations between China and Taiwan, Pottinger said that would be the responsibility of both governments to negotiate among themselves, but he did not believe this was likely.
“If Beijing was serious about wanting to talk, it would’ve begun talking seven years ago when President Tsai Ing-wen was inaugurated,” he said. “[President Tsai] was open to dialogue and was open to maintaining the status quo and not destabilizing the status quo. [But] Beijing chose to completely freeze out Taiwan’s government.”
In separate remarks, Pottinger said he was encouraged by former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s comment while visiting Taiwan, in which he said it was important for Europe to signal to Beijing that it will impose sanctions on it if it attacks Taiwan.
“If Europe had done a better job with signaling that [to Russia] sooner, and Vladimir Putin believed that Europe was serious about sanctions, we might have been able to deter the conflict,” Pottinger said. “Or at least it would have helped deter the conflict.”