In one respect, Antony Blinken’s latest claim about Taiwan is right. The US secretary of state said any cross-strait crisis is “a matter of concern to quite literally the entire world”. That’s true because Washington has made it so by deliberately escalating what are already high tensions into a powder keg. When arsonists like Blinken are threatening to torch a house, which is Taiwan, to save it, it’s no wonder the whole neighbourhood is alarmed. It doesn’t help when top US military men just keep on predicting a war with China, any time now, and up to 2027 at the latest. It also doesn’t help when the United States keeps selling more weapons to the island, and is now increasing its military presence with actual boots on Taiwanese ground. If that’s not provocation, I don’t know what is. There is an easier and sensible way to ease tensions with China, and that’s by trying to reach an understanding with Beijing over the island, as both the US and the mainland have managed to do in the past 40 years, until now. But then the US decides it must openly confront and contain a rising China. And what’s more convenient than playing the Taiwan card, Asia’s peace and security be damned? After all, if the whole region goes up in smoke, that’s someone else’s neighbourhood, not America’s. It’s déjà vu. How many times have we seen this film before? Why talk when you can just pull out a gun? That’s America’s style. It’s apparently even written into its constitution. Beijing hits out at Blinken’s ‘irresponsible and absurd’ Taiwan comments Washington plans to significantly increase its presence of troops on Taiwan, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, by quadrupling the number to 200 military personnel in the coming months. Meanwhile, separate reports also say Taiwanese troops will be sent to the US for combat training. Until recently, there were not supposed to be any US troops on Taiwan; and even up to the start of 2021, no more than two dozen were reported. The military exchange will be a real escalation. Such moves are usually between the militaries of two sovereign countries. It’s clear while the Joe Biden White House claims to uphold the one-China principle, its actions say otherwise. For a while, President Tsai Ing-wen tried to put a lid on the rising US presence of troops, but now she doesn’t even bother. Washington keeps arguing for increasingly assertive and overt support, especially with frequent US naval operations across the strait. It’s the only way to help deter “Chinese aggression”. That’s a matter of perspective. For Beijing, it just looks like deliberate provocation. Since Taiwan independence or secession is the only issue on which China will go to war, the US is risking the future of the entire region for its own China containment policy, by playing the Taiwan card to the max. This game becomes more dangerous with each new provocation, such as an expected visit by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, following in the footsteps of his Democrat predecessor Nancy Pelosi. The increasing number of US troops on the island is not occurring in isolation, but part of the US militarisation of the region, with bases reopening in the Philippines, and as it steps up the so-called chip war with the help of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. When you pick on every move China makes or could make in the imagination of US generals and hawkish politicians, there will come a point of no return when Beijing says enough is enough. When a stray Chinese balloon is deliberately turned into an international incident, it shows US policymakers have lost all sense of proportion and cannot be trusted to act rationally with China. All the nations in the Asia-Pacific region must realise America’s unreliability, irresponsibility and propensity for war – in their neighbourhood. Preserving peace, security and prosperity in the region depends on delicately balancing between the US and China. Siding with one and ganging up on the other is a recipe for disaster.