Why is China attacking Taiwan (even though it’s a drill)?

0
234

Provocation for some, assertion of power for others… The military maneuvers, essentially naval air, carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army around the small island state of Taiwan are loaded with messages for the region’s countries but also the United States and Europe.

The People’s Republic of China launched, Saturday, April 8, three days of military maneuvers around the archipelago of Taiwan (Republic of China) to intimidate the authorities of this independent State after the visit of its President to the States States three days earlier. But the message is broader than that.

What does this exercise consist of?

According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, the Joint Sword Exercise aims to create deterrence and total encirclement of Taiwan.

On the program, patrols and simulations of precision strikes against key targets on the independent island that Beijing considers a province that it has not yet managed to unify with the rest of its territory since the end of the war—Civil war in 1949.

What does this exercise consist of?

According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, the Joint Sword Exercise aims to create deterrence and total encirclement of Taiwan.

On the program, patrols and simulations of precision strikes against key targets on the independent island that Beijing considers a province that it has not yet managed to unify with the rest of its territory since the war’s end—the Civil war in 1949.

According to the Taiwanese Defense Ministry, nine warships and seventy-one aircraft were detected around the island on Saturday. On Sunday, the Taipei military counted eleven Chinese ships and seventy aircraft. And on Monday, China announced live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait near the coast of Fujian, the province facing the island.

Is it to intimidate Taiwan?

For Ja Ian Chong, associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, quoted by AFP, these military maneuvers are part of a much broader pressure campaign against Taiwan  .

Because even if China waited for the return of President Tsai Ing-wen to Taiwan to kick off Joint Sword, an exercise of such magnitude had probably been in preparation for at least several weeks.

What message for the United States?

According to a Chinese People’s Liberation Army spokesperson, the Joint Sword exercise also aims to warn against collusion between separatist forces seeking “Taiwan independence” and outside forces.  Chief among them is the United States.

To make the message more precise, Beijing announced that it would bar Taipei’s de facto ambassador to the United States, Hsiao Bi-Khim, from entering China and accused him of deliberately inciting a confrontation in the Taiwan Strait.

Additionally, the Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute and the Ronald-Reagan Presidential Library have had the right to work with Chinese entities revoked.

For Beijing, any support or protection given to Taiwan is considered interference.

Should Europe feel concerned?

It has also not escaped observers that Operation Joint Sword began the day after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron visited China.

For James Char, an expert on the Chinese army at the Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore, Beijing, which is trying to warm up its relations with Europe, cannot afford a military operation against Taiwan that would harm this diplomatic opening.

But the Chinese President has all the. Hesame invited the Europeans to distance themselves from the United States. He reminded them with Joint Sword that the subject of Taiwan does not have to interfere in his relations with Brussels or the other European capitals.

Still, Paris, more than any other, cannot feel foreign. With its territories in the Western Pacific, particularly New Caledonia, France sees itself as a regional player.

And the countries bordering the China Sea?

For these, Chinese intimidation maneuvers have become commonplace. Whether around Taiwan or on the multiple islands and islets claimed by Beijing in the China Sea, the fear of a confrontation is always present.

However, argues Manoj Kewalramani, a China expert at the Takshashila Institution in Bangalore, India, Joint Sword does not appear to be on the same scale as what we saw during [Democratic US Rep. Nancy] Pelosi’s visit in August 2022. Maritime and air traffic was then disrupted on major trade routes around Taiwan.

 Restoring the air and sea routes around Taiwan this year is very important for the economic recovery of neighboring countries and China itself, said Su Tzu-yun, a military expert at the Defense and Defense Research Institute. National security in Taiwan, so military maneuvers should not be intensified.