China announced on Monday that it will hold new military exercises near Taiwan. This suggests that Beijing may maintain the drumbeat of military pressure on the island after carrying out the largest-ever exercise in the region in retaliation for a visit by Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. .
The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said Monday it was focused on holding a “joint anti-submarine and naval strike operation” at an unspecified location near the island. took place the day after completed a 72-hour exercise surrounding Taiwan, effectively simulating a blockade.
The latest drills show Beijing may be seeking to normalize its military presence around Taiwan, prompting Chinese forces to cut off much of the island’s air and water access. During exercises last week, China launched at least 11 missiles into waters north, south, and east of Taiwan, and deployed warships and fighter jets to target Taiwan. flocked to
Taiwan, an island of 23 million people 80 miles off the coast of China, has long been a source of tension between Washington and Beijing. China claims the democratically governed island of Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to use force to retake it if necessary.
Pelosi has been the highest-profile US official since then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s controversial visit to Taiwan in 1997. After she landed in Taipei on Tuesday night, a chorus of Chinese government agencies condemned her visit, claiming it thwarted China’s efforts to reunify with Taiwan and threatened regional stability.
Let’s take a look at the issues surrounding China and Taiwan and how they’ve changed since Pelosi’s visit.
What is Beijing trying to achieve with military exercises?
China cast the drill as a show of force intended to punish the island for Pelosi’s visit to challenge Beijing’s claims to Taiwan. The four days of training close to Taiwan provided valuable training in case the Chinese military were ever ordered to attack Taiwan.
On the first day of the exercise, five Chinese ballistic missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone east of Taiwan. Analysts believe Beijing sent warnings to both the United States and Japan about supporting Taiwan in the event of a conflict there, reminding Washington that it can attack US military bases in the region.
China chose six regions to conduct the exercises because of their importance in a campaign that could blockade Taiwan, said Major General Meng Xiangqing, a professor of strategy at the National Defense University in Beijing. I’m here. said in an interview on Chinese TV. One zone covers the narrowest part of the Taiwan Strait. Others could be used to blockade major ports or attack three of Taiwan’s major military bases. There is a possibility.
China’s military buildup has reached a stage where some commanders and analysts believe aggression is becoming more likely, but it remains a very dangerous scenario. If not, the exercises have been making the region tense, and Monday’s announcement of new exercises will only add to such concerns. Chinese state media On Monday, it said the number of jets patrolling the Straits would only increase, not decrease.
Chinese leaders have long had their sights set on Taiwan.
China’s most powerful leader for generations, Xi Jinping said that unifying Taiwan with China was a major goal of his rule, and that he called China’s “national rebirth” as a modern nation. He makes it clearer than any of his predecessors what he considers to be the key to what he calls. , a unified superpower.
Taiwan influenced Mr. Xi’s early political career. In 1996, as tensions rose in the Taiwan Strait, he became chief political officer of the People’s Liberation Army Reserve Anti-Aircraft Division in Fujian Province, which borders the island across the Taiwan Strait.
His growing interest in unification also reflects domestic political calculations. Xi is expected to be elected to an unprecedented third term as party leader at the Communist Party Congress in the fall. Ahead of that meeting, Xi will eagerly project an image of strength at home and abroad, especially on the Taiwan issue.
The exercises are intended not only to threaten Taiwan and the United States, but also to appease domestic Chinese nationalists who seemed disappointed with what was seen as an inadequate and coercive response.
Taiwan is the biggest flashpoint in US-China relations.
China’s aggression into Taiwan’s waters and airspace has become more aggressive over the past few years, increasing the risk of conflict.
Beijing upped its stakes in June when the Foreign Ministry declared that China controls the Taiwan Strait and that the Taiwan Strait is not considered the Taiwan Strait. international waterwaysAnd last year, Chinese military aircraft increasingly scouted airspace near Taiwan, prompting the Taiwanese military to scramble its fighter jets.
During Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese government stepped up pressure. The Chinese military announced live-fire drills that started on Thursday. Some of it took place in a section of the ocean that appears to encroach on waters that Taiwan claims are within its territorial waters.
In a deliberately vague diplomatic agreement adopted in 1979, the United States maintains a “one China” policy that recognizes, but does not support, Beijing’s claims to Taiwan. US leaders have remained vague about how they will help Taiwan if China attacks, but President Biden has pledged to defend the island.
Taiwan has long been caught between two rivals.
Taiwan was never part of the People’s Republic of China. For decades, the Chinese people have been living under martial law imposed by the US-backed regime led by Chiang Kai-shek, who fled China after being overthrown by Mao Zedong’s communist revolution in 1949. I was. Over Taiwan in the 1950s.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Cold War tensions largely subsided as Taiwan democratized and China opened up its economy. But it flared up again in 1995 and his 1996 when China opposed a visit to Cornell University, the alma mater of Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.
China launched missiles near mainland Taiwan as a warning to Lee and as Taiwan prepares for its first public presidential election. The crisis ended only when President Bill Clinton ordered the aircraft carriers to move to both ends of the Taiwan Strait.