China's invasion on Taiwan may soon become the question of time and opportunity

China is behaving like a cornered cat after the stormy visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan and that does not augur well for the small island nation. On the one hand, China has curtailed what is called necessary sensitive communication links with the United States. On the other, it has launched a strategy of steadily increasing its posture of aggression against Taiwan.


12.09.2022 22:00
Piše: Valerio Fabbri
Ključne besede:   China   Taiwan   People Liberation Army Navy   Meng Xiangqing   Xi Jinping   Senkaku Island   South China Sea   Evan Feienbaum   Taiwan Strait   Wu Jieh-min   United States   Beijing   John Kirby  

China's Navy got the opportunity to use Pelosi as the pretext to literally encircle Taiwan and test the navy’s capability to lay a naval blockade of the island.

Neither decision helps anyone, least of all itself. But it seems China is currently not acting rationally. For all one knows, the visit may be Nancy Pelosi’s last political act before the assumed sunset of her political career, but she has, advertently or otherwise, stirred up a chaos that will last beyond her days in the Capitol. Immediately after her visit, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government launched a four-day relentless naval exercises in the waters around Taiwan. Chinese officers resorted to live firing, which is usually a later stage exercise of operational readiness. In this case, the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)  got the opportunity to use Pelosi as the pretext to literally encircle Taiwan and test the navy’s capability to lay a naval blockade of the island. Over 50 warships and 200 Chinese military aircraft were involved in the exercise. American analysts wonder if the communist government is setting up a scaled-up and more aggressive new normal for Taiwan.


China Central Television (CCT), the state broadcaster, quoted Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the PLA-affiliated National Defense University, as saying that the naval exercise was aimed to "completely smash the so-called median line’ and demonstrate China’s ability to prevent foreign intervention in a conflict by blockading and controlling the Bashi Channel, an important waterway between the western Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea".


China has indeed exhibited unusually aggressive and war-like military postures against most countries it has disputes with after Xi Jinping came to power. It occupied the rocky shoals in the South China Sea, it established a defense identification zone over Senkaku Island and is currently involved in stealthily seizing Indian areas in the Himalayas.



Correctly guessing that the world community would rattle but not act against it, China changed the status quo around the Senkaku Island. It became impudent enough to similarly try and change the contested border with India. It now wants to use the Pelosi visit to change the status quo in its favour in the Taiwan Strait. With its growing size as an economic and military giant, the China of today is serious about flexing its muscles to thwart any — read American — attempt to accost or question its motives in Asia.


The Economist has reported:


"By the Pentagon’s own account, the PLA has achieved parity or surpassed America in the number of ships and submarines, surface-to-air missiles and cruise and ballistic missiles it can deploy."


China is now sending a clear message to the United States that the more the latter tries to prop up money and armaments for the defence of Taiwan, the more it will squeeze the island and contain its freedom to operation off its shores. The American and Taiwanese officials wonder why China is making such an issue out of the Pelosi visit except to escalate tensions.


A searching comment came from Evan Feienbaum, Vice-President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:


"The US and China are seriously talking past each other. This is not just about Pelosi. The US thinks this is about Chinese coercion. The Chinese think this is about a drift from 'one China' to 'one China, one Taiwan'. That disconnect will lead to a very unstable new baseline."





Meanwhile, in addition to its aggressive posturing against Taiwan, China has also severed its lines of communication with the United States on defense, climate, and other diplomatic issues in response to the Pelosi visit. Beijing’s move was an "irresponsible act" amid its recent escalation of missile launches and other military activity, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a phone briefing on Friday:


"At a time of tension, and things are certainly tense, you want to be able to talk."


China also severed its cooperation with the US on climate change and sanctioned Pelosi in response to the visit. Kirby said that the White House believes some U.S.-China military-to-military lines of communication remained open. A document released by Beijing said it had decided to cancel bilateral working meetings between the representatives of military agencies, terminate a direct communication line between regional military commands as well as suspend cooperation within the framework of a maritime security mechanism. Additionally, China’s Foreign Ministry announced the suspension of cooperation with the US in the sphere of illegal migration and repatriation, in the sphere of legal proceedings and justice, the war on drugs, the counteraction to international crimes as well as on bilateral consultations on climate change.


Wu Jieh-min, a political scientist at Taiwanese research academy Academia Sinica, offered a good sum up of the situation to the New York Times:


"The attractiveness of the carrots in China’s Taiwan policy — economic inducements — has now fallen to its lowest point since the end of the Cold War. The card it holds presently is to raise military threats toward Taiwan step by step, and to continue military preparations for the use of force until, one day, a full-scale military offensive on Taiwan becomes a favorable option."

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