Taiwan Says China's Drills Reflect Wider Intentions

The self-governing island of Taiwan was warned by Taipei that Chinese military maneuvers are not only a practice for an invasion but also a reflection of Beijing’s intentions to control huge parts of the western Pacific.

China has dispatched ships and planes over the Taiwan Strait’s midline, angered by the recent visit to Taiwan of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and fired missiles into the surrounding waters. Flights and freight in one of the world’s busiest trading zones have been interrupted since the drills began on Thursday.

Beijing extended the exercises without naming an end date, despite demands to de-escalate tensions.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu of Taiwan has stated that China’s goal is not only to absorb the island democracy but also to create a foothold in the western Pacific. The Taiwan Strait would be used as a control point for the East and South China Seas, with a blockade erected to prevent the United States and its allies from assisting Taiwan in the case of an invasion.

China’s “geostrategic ambition” extends beyond Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, Wu said.

Furthermore, “China has no right to intervene or influence” Taiwan’s democracy or its interactions with other states, he stressed.

Although Wu’s judgment of China’s movements was harsher than that of most observers, Wu’s concerns about Beijing’s desire to increase its influence in the Pacific, where the United States has military bases and substantial treaty ties, were widely shared.

While China has claimed that Pelosi’s visit sparked its military drills, Wu argued that Beijing was using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to carry out long-planned threats. It was also announced that after the visit, China severed off talks with the United States on a variety of matters, including military contacts, climate change, and combating transnational crime.

According to Pelosi, China’s outrage over the Senate delegation’s visit to that country a few months earlier was “nobody said a word” about. Later on MSNBC, she referred to China’s President Xi Jinping as a “scared bully” for his behavior.

There was no need for the Chinese President to be able to dictate the schedules of Congress members, she remarked.

China has moved closer to Taiwan’s boundaries and may be trying to establish a new normal in which it will eventually restrict access to the island’s ports and airspace through its actions. However, the military on the island, whose people ardently support the existing quo of de-facto independence, would undoubtedly respond fiercely to this proposal.

Even the United States, Taipei’s most important benefactor, has demonstrated that it can handle threats from China. In deference to Beijing, Washington has no formal diplomatic connections with Taiwan, but it is legally obligated to ensure that the island can defend itself and to take all threats against it as matters of great concern.

Whether or whether the United States would send troops if China attacked Taiwan is still up in the air. Vice President Joe Biden has indicated numerous times that the United States must do so, but his staff soon retracted those statements.

An extended crisis in the Taiwan Strait, a major trade thoroughfare, could have major implications for international supply chains, in addition to the geopolitical risks, at a time when the world is already facing disruptions and uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Taiwan, in particular, is an important supplier of computer chips to the world economy, including China’s high-tech industries.

Taiwan’s military has been put on high alert in reaction to the drills, but so far has not taken any active countermeasures.

Their armed forces conducted live artillery training on Tuesday in Pingtung County, on the country’s southeast coast.

A spokesperson for Taiwan’s 8th Army Command, Maj. Gen. Lou Woei-jye said the army will continue to train and build up its strength to counter China’s threat. When it comes to defending our country, “No matter the circumstances… this is the right course of action.”

There were relatively tenuous links between imperial China and Taiwan before its breakup with Beijing in 1949. Although the island has never been under Chinese rule, the country’s ruling Communist Party considers it as its territory and has taken steps to isolate it diplomatically and economically, as well as stepping up military threats.

Washington has claimed that Pelosi’s visit did not alter its “one China policy,” which holds that the United States takes no position on the status of the two parties but wants their disagreement settled amicably.

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