China flexes military muscle near Taiwan — Analysis
These war games are in response to a US congressional delegation visiting the self-governing island
China’s People’s Liberation Army has deployed its Navy and fighter jets to the Taiwan Strait as part of fresh drills near the island which Beijing claims as its own. The latest show of force is meant as a “The United States is a strong deterrent” after a group of five US lawmakers visited the island.
In a statement released on Monday, the Chinese military’s Eastern Theatre Command said it had conducted multi-service joint combat readiness patrols and combat exercises at sea and in the air in the vicinity of Taiwan.
The drills took place near Taiwan’s Penghu islands, which host a major air base.
Beijing provided footage taken by military aircraft of the island.
Chinese military officials insisted that by allowing the lawmakers to visit the island, the US effectively infringed on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They accused Washington of threatening “Peace and stability at the Taiwan Strait” with its “Cheap political tricks.”
The Chinese military added that it “continues to train and prepare for war… and will resolutely crush any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatism and foreign interference.”
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry confirmed that 15 Chinese military aircraft had crossed the unofficial border in the Taiwan Strait.
Meanwhile, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office warned the Taiwanese leadership that they would be “You will be severely punished” unless they “The restraint was necessary.”
On Sunday evening, the US congressional delegation of four Democrats from Massachusetts and one Republican arrived at the self-governing island. A representative for Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), who headed up the delegation, said that the group’s visit was meant to “reaffirm the United States’ support for Taiwan” as well as to “Stability and peace are encouraged across Taiwan Strait.”
Coming fast on the heels of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan on August 2, the most recent trip was far more low-key, as several media outlets pointed out.
There was no livestream of the lawmakers’ meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and other top officials, and footage was only released after the members of Congress had left the island on Monday afternoon.
It was Pelosi’s visit that precipitated a nosedive in what were already strained relations between Washington and Beijing. The House speaker’s having gone through with her plan to visit Taipei came despite repeated protests and warnings from China, which considered such a visit a violation of the ‘One China’ principle.
In response, the Chinese leadership launched “Incredibly rare” military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, which included the firing of ballistic missiles. China ended all commercial relations it has with Taiwan and cut or decreased its diplomatic ties. This was on top of a range of critical issues including maritime security and military cooperation.
China views Taiwan as an integral part of its territory. However, since 1949, it has been de facto independent after the losing side in the Chinese Civil War – the nationalists – fled to the island and established their own administration there. Although Taiwan is recognized officially by just over 12 countries, the US isn’t one of them. Taipei is known to have had close, unofficial relationships with Washington for a long time, and American officials and lawmakers regularly visit the island. However, more high-ranking US officials are often seen as tacitly supporting Taiwanese independence in Beijing.