September 27, 2022

China Vows More Drills, but Taiwan Is Undeterred

7 min read


If China’s show of force ends. Visit by Speaker Nancy Pelosi Meant as a deterrent, it has not had the desired effect in Taiwan, where military exercises have reinforced a cautious two-pronged strategy of seeking international support while avoiding open confrontation.

Exercises, which Besieged the sovereign island And a blockade simulation, instead, seems to have hardened Taiwan’s belief in the value of the island’s diplomatic, economic and military maneuvers to create a middle ground in the great-power standoff between China and the United States. can go.

Under President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s authorities have quietly welcomed Washington, taking advantage With arms sales And pledged to support democracy. They have also refrained from publicizing the achievement, in an attempt to avoid angering China, which claims the island as its own.

As Beijing vows to normalize military exercises closer to Taiwan, that approach is likely to guide the island’s ongoing response, bringing brinkmanship around one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints. New eras will be established.

When Beijing recently sent dozens of fighters across the middle line separating the waters between China and Taiwan, Taiwan’s military said it would not go further and responded relatively mildly. Contrary to harsh and violent warnings from Chinese diplomats and state media, Taiwan issued soft statements and welcomed a letter from leaders of the Group of 7 countries condemning the drills.

In some respects, China’s military spectacle is self-defeating, said Fan Shiping, a professor of political science at National Taiwan Normal University.

He said that this time the world has seen China’s actions. “Taiwan has become the focus of the world’s attention.”

For all their shock and awe, the exercises have harmed some of China’s interests.

In Taiwan, they have. Strong opposition to ChinaAdding to the growing urgency is the need to defend the island and diversify away from economic dependence on China. Within China’s preferred political party, the Kuomintang, they have sparked internal divisions over whether to maintain ties with Beijing as Taiwanese public opinion bristles at the prospect. Abroad, they have raised awareness of the plight of Taiwan, which is often overlooked and misunderstood, and condemned China’s actions.

“China’s exercises have already drawn so much criticism from the international community. For Taiwan, it will be impossible to reduce foreign engagement in the future. Instead, it will only increase its international participation. Will hope to strengthen further,” Mr Fan said.

Even the high political theater of Ms. Pelosi’s visit could serve as a model going forward. Taiwan has become adept at courting senior lawmakers from major powers, known as “congressional diplomacy”.

This strategy has allowed Taiwan to strengthen international exchanges without full diplomatic recognition and angering China, which can come with a visit by a president or prime minister. In July, European Parliament Vice President Nicolas Beer visited the island, paralleling Ms. Pelosi’s recent trip that caused less controversy.

“Perhaps after the election, the new speaker of the US Congress will also visit Taiwan, which will make it a norm,” Mr. Fan said, adding that it was possible that Ms. Pelosi would speak before Ms. Tsai. invite to of the US Congress.

The focus could add more urgency to US arms sales to Taiwan. The Russian invasion of Ukraine had already convinced many in Washington and Taipei that a Chinese invasion was a potential threat, and that a small army, if properly armed, could defeat a major power. can give

However, the Taiwanese authorities Complained about the delay. and unfilled orders, partly due to production constraints. Other systems wanted by Taiwan, including sophisticated naval helicopters, have been dismissed by US officials as unnecessary for an asymmetric strategy to fight China that focuses on mobility and precision strikes.

Delays and strategic differences could put Taiwan in a difficult situation were a sudden conflict to break out. U.S. officials have considered stockpiling weapons in Taiwan because of concerns that supplies to the island could be difficult in the event of a Chinese military blockade.

“The arms sales process is a process where Taiwan has to justify to the Americans why we want those weapons,” said Kitsch Liao, a military and cyber affairs consultant at the Double Think Lab, a Taiwanese research group. said “And there’s nothing more powerful than empirical evidence of what’s happening on the ground, so the exercises will provide hard evidence to back up future applications.”

The exercises may also have helped improve coordination between the Taiwanese and United States militaries, as both worked to ensure the safety of Ms. Pelosi’s landing in Taiwan. And military exercises, which China has said it will continue in the Taiwan Strait, offer valuable experience for Taiwan and the United States to share observations and intelligence.

Su Tzu-yun, a security analyst at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, said the drills offered a rare opportunity to assess China’s military capabilities, which he believed were not ready enough “to attack Taiwan.” can attack from all sides,” he said. .

Acting as a kind of wake-up call, the Chinese moves have bolstered support for the military within Taiwan, which has struggled with casualties and morale in the face of a potential enemy like China. By many accounts, Taiwan’s forces are poorly equipped and undermanned.

Although Ms. Tsai’s administration has discussed extending the term of military service, she have struggled to impose. A New Strategic Vision on Army Leadership. Mr Su said the exercises had added urgency and led to new demands for an increase in the island’s defense budget.

“It is not just the responsibility of soldiers in uniform, but the responsibility of civil servants in suits,” he said of the need to strengthen the military.

The exercises could also pave the way for better relations with some of Taiwan’s neighbors. After five Chinese missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.The country’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the exercises. It offers a potential opening for Taiwanese officials, who have called for a security dialogue with Japan.

An executive, Lai I-ching, said that “there is no need for bilateral dialogue between Taiwan and Japan or between Taiwan and the United States, but dialogue, communication and coordination between Taiwan and the US-Japan agreement as soon as possible.” ” A committee member at the research group Taiwan Think Tank, and a former official of the island’s Democratic Progressive Party.

He said that Taiwan should learn from Ukraine and not allow China to establish a new status quo by eroding Taiwan’s territory and sovereignty. Calling Ms. Tsai’s approach “sensible,” he said some Taiwanese were clamoring for stronger action, signaling a potential political threat to Ms. Tsai’s approach.

“He is also very cautious to the point that some Taiwanese youth who have a strong Taiwanese identity are not satisfied with him,” he said.

Perhaps just as important to Mrs Tsai is limiting the economic fallout from new Chinese restrictions on Taiwanese agricultural products. Despite China’s fight, it is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, its position More weapons were made By banning additional Taiwanese food products during Ms. Pelosi’s visit.

These efforts are likely to encourage ongoing diversification. Taiwanese companies are already reassessing the Chinese economy, which has prompted repeated nationwide lockdowns due to strict Covid measures.

Because Chinese companies rely on Taiwanese electronics manufacturers, Beijing’s initiatives have largely avoided them. Even so, those manufacturers, many of which have factories in China, have also considered moving production elsewhere in recent years.

That sentiment has been echoed in Europe and the United States, which have worked to bring home more production of key tech products like semiconductors.

A multibillion-dollar U.S. law to support the semiconductor industry made it more possible for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., one of the world’s leading chipmakers based in Taiwan, to expand production in the U.S. Is. Other manufacturers have moved some plants closer to customers in places like Southeast Asia, India and Eastern Europe.

“A new sense has been brought by the US and Europe, to supply and source things locally instead of relying solely on China,” said Liu Mengchen, director of the Qinghua Institution for Economics. research.



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