The People’s Republic of China (PRC) recently made a bold display of military strength by sending 68 warplanes over Taiwan while simultaneously deploying 10 Navy vessels to encircle the island. This aggressive move is one of the most significant shows of force by China in the current year.
The timing of China’s actions is noteworthy, coming just weeks after the United States made history by sending military equipment to Taiwan. This act further escalated the already tense relationship between China and Taiwan. The roots of this tension trace back to 1949 when Taiwan declared its independence during the Chinese Civil War, leading to China’s ongoing claim that Taiwan is an integral part of its territory.
President Xi Jinping’s commitment to bringing Taipei back under Chinese control has only exacerbated the division between the two nations. Less than 24 hours before the deployment of 68 warplanes, Taiwan’s Government reported the presence of 35 Chinese aircraft in its airspace. Some of these warplanes even crossed the Bashi Channel to join the Chinese carrier Shandong for military exercises in the Pacific.
Japan also noted the situation, reporting that its Navy had observed the Shandong sailing about 400 miles south of Miyakojima island, accompanied by six other ships, including destroyers and frigates.
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The United States has traditionally maintained a neutral stance on Taiwan, following the One China policy, which acknowledges the island as part of mainland China. However, the Biden administration has adopted a somewhat warmer stance by expressing support for Taipei. Additionally, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan officially last year, signaling a shift in US-Taiwan relations.
Taiwan, in response to these escalations, has pledged to closely monitor Chinese activities around the island and strengthen its defenses. Over the past year, Beijing has significantly increased military operations in the vicinity of Taiwan, regularly sending warships and warplanes.
The recent display of Chinese military might also followed the US and Canada’s passage of warships through the Taiwan Strait, challenging China’s territorial claims. Furthermore, China sailed its own naval formation, led by the aircraft carrier Shandong, to a position about 70 miles southeast of Taiwan. This maneuver was accompanied by drills simulating various military scenarios, as reported by Chinese state media.
This week, Beijing unveiled its strategy for the integration of Taiwan, serving as a warning to the island about a potential invasion. Officials emphasized the importance of Fujian, the Chinese province that directly faces the Taiwan Strait, in this strategy. China intends for Fujian to be the primary destination for Taiwanese residents settling in the PRC. Pan Xianzhang, Vice Director of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, stated, “We will support the construction of (the demonstration zone) as a major initiative to deepen cross-strait integrated development and consolidate the foundation for peaceful reunification.”
In summary, China’s recent military actions in the Taiwan Strait have heightened tensions in the region, prompting responses from the United States, Canada, and Taiwan itself. The situation remains volatile, with both sides maintaining their positions on the Taiwan issue.