Normalization of intimidation of Taiwan must not be tolerated

The Chinese military is continuing drills that simulate an invasion of Taiwan and is poised to make such drills the norm. The aim is clearly to step up pressure on Taiwan. China should immediately stop its dangerous provocations.

Large-scale drills by the Chinese military around Taiwan continued after Aug. 8, beyond the period Beijing had announced the drills would end.

China has described the drills from Aug. 4 through 7 as a countermeasure against U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, but it has been shown again that this was just a pretext.

The drills were conducted in areas that were designed to surround Taiwan, with ballistic missile launches, joint naval and air force drills, and ground attack drills systematically conducted on a day-by-day basis. It was said to be one of the largest Chinese military training exercises in history.

It is obvious that the exercise plans have been carefully prepared for a long time. China was probably looking for an opportunity to put them into practice.

It is China that has increased military pressure on Taiwan in the first place, raising tensions. The claim that Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan made the situation worse does not make sense.

The latest exercises were characterized by the fact that Chinese fighter jets and naval vessels repeatedly crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line, which has served as a ceasefire line between China and Taiwan. There is no legal basis for the median line, but the Chinese side has so far refrained from crossing it to avoid excessive tensions.

China no longer recognizes the existence of the median line and is making military exercises across the line a norm in an attempt to improve its ability to invade Taiwan. Unilateral changes to the status quo are unacceptable.

China has also become increasingly hostile toward the United States. Beijing has informed Washington of its intention to suspend dialogue between the military authorities of the two countries and postponed talks on climate change, one of the few areas in which the two nations could cooperate.

This is extremely irresponsible behavior for a major power. It must be said that China itself is “playing with fire,” which is a common phrase used by China to criticize the United States.

The U.S. military intends to send naval vessels to the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks. It is hoped that the United States will underscore its stance of not tolerating China’s selfish behavior in the Taiwan Strait and of protecting freedom of navigation.

China’s series of actions have demonstrated that an emergency in the Taiwan Strait is an emergency for Japan. If China were to impose a naval blockade on Taiwan, it would also block sea lanes connecting the South China Sea to Japan. For Japan, which relies on imports for energy and food, doing so would be a matter of life and death.

If China invades Taiwan, would it be recognized as a “situation threatening Japan’s survival” under the security-related laws, and would it be a case in which Japan and the United States should be able to exercise the limited right of collective self-defense? The Japanese government must anticipate all kinds of situations and accelerate discussions on strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 10, 2022)