• Yomiuri Editorial
  • China’s military exercises

Drills assuming invasion of Taiwan pose dangerous threat

The Chinese military continues to conduct unprecedentedly large-scale exercises around Taiwan. It is clear that these drills are designed to simulate an invasion of Taiwan. Threatening to endanger the entire region, including Japan, is absolutely unacceptable.

In the exercises that began Thursday, drill zones were set up to encircle Taiwan, and ballistic missiles were fired from the Chinese mainland. Some of the missiles flew over Taipei.

Some of the zones overlap Taiwan-claimed territorial waters and airspace, and blocked major ports and navigation routes. Taiwan passenger aircraft and ships were said to have been forced to make detours. Exercises that threaten freedom of navigation are outrageous.

This is the first time China has fired missiles into areas around Taiwan since the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crisis. The scale of the forces participating in the exercises this time has been dramatically increased. It is the first time that drill zones have been set up on the waters east of Taiwan.

China has explained that the exercises were a countermeasure to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but it may have resulted in demonstrating Beijing’s ability to blockade Taiwan by sea and an invasion scenario.

During the last Taiwan Strait crisis, the United States dispatched aircraft carriers to demonstrate its intention to defend Taiwan, and China, which had no ability to counteract at the time, stopped launching missiles. It now possesses aircraft carriers and has deployed anti-ship ballistic missiles that can target U.S. aircraft carriers.

The latest exercises may be intended to show off China’s military buildup during the period since the Taiwan Strait crisis and to demonstrate its intention to prevent the United States from intervening militarily in Taiwan.

One of the exercise zones includes part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and Chinese missiles fell into the EEZ for the first time.

Yonaguni Island in Okinawa Prefecture is within a stone’s throw of Taiwan and close to the exercise zone. It has become clear once again that a Taiwan contingency would have a direct and serious impact on Japan’s security.

The United States and Japan must strengthen cooperation and develop a defense system to maintain regional stability.

The Japan-China foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled for Thursday in Cambodia was canceled due to China’s last-minute refusal to hold the meeting. China said the reason was that the Group of Seven (G7) advanced nations, including Japan, expressed concern in a foreign ministerial statement about China’s increased military pressure on Taiwan.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said that Japan should not blindly follow the United States on the Taiwan issue. Japan is actually threatened by the exercises, so it is only natural that Tokyo joined the G7 statement. China’s assertion is completely irrelevant.

China’s overreaction can be said to be an indication of how extensive the G7’s unity is as deterrent against China.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 7, 2022)