China’s recent military drills around Taiwan were meant to serve as a “serious warning” to both “pro-independence politicians” on the island as well as to its foreign allies, The Associated Press reports.
“The People’s Liberation Army recently organized and conducted a series of countermeasures in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding waters, which is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation of Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces,” Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday.
“It is a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhu said.
China’s military launched three days of drills, beginning on Saturday and ending on Monday, after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other lawmakers on April 5 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
Michael Cunningham, a research fellow in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, said Zhu’s comments were predictable. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“That’s exactly what the exercises were intended to be—a warning to Taiwan’s ruling party and to the United States,” Cunningham told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. “China almost always responds to meetings between senior U.S. and Taiwanese officials by engaging in military provocations, so its response to the Tsai-McCarthy visit last week wasn’t at all surprising.”
“From the perspective of anyone outside China, this kind of show of force is unnecessary and only makes conflict more likely, by heightening the risk of escalation, but that’s not how Beijing sees it,” Cunningham added. “Although Tsai Ing-wen has been very moderate in her policy toward China and explicitly opposes the idea of Taiwan independence, Beijing deeply distrusts her and the Democratic Progressive Party, which she is a part of.”
Furthermore, the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy was in line with past precedent and in no way violated America’s [“One China” policy], which the current and previous administrations have consistently reaffirmed, but Beijing is nevertheless paranoid that the U.S. and the [Democratic Progressive Party] are in cahoots to gradually bring about legal independence for Taiwan, and nothing either side can do or say will convince them otherwise.
Beijing’s military exercises, known as Joint Sword, “simulated sealing off the island,” The Associated Press reported.
Zhu’s statement came shortly after other comments made by China’s military that it is “ready to fight” after the military drills around the island.
“The theater’s troops are ready to fight at all times and can fight at any time to resolutely smash any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ and foreign interference attempts,” China’s military said on Monday, according to The Associated Press.
Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for defense programs with The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, previously noted China’s declaration that it is “ready to fight.”
“China’s statement that its military is ‘ready to fight’ has to be taken seriously,” Wood told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. “While China has not engaged in military operations since the late 1970s (against Vietnam), it has studied U.S. military operations for 30 years and has been hard at work developing a military informed by those studies.”
“Additionally, geography favors China because anything it would want to do, especially any military operation against Taiwan, would be very close to China itself. Taiwan is only 70 miles from the Chinese mainland,” he added. “Any U.S. response would occur from bases 1,500 miles or more away. China’s navy boasts over 350 ships, not counting Chinese coast guard and militarized commercial vessels, while the U.S. Navy maintains a few dozen ships in the immediate area.”
The Chinese Communist Party has been very clear and serious in saying how important it is to gain control of Taiwan.
It has built a military to accomplish that, and each year is more aggressive in testing that force’s capabilities to seize Taiwan and to prevent Taiwan’s supporters from helping its defense.
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