Chinese Military Drills: Using Bullying Tactics against Taiwan Undermines Beijing’s Intl Credibility

China’s armed forces conducted large-scale military drills in the waters surrounding Taiwan, probably with the aim of putting pressure on the new Taiwan administration.

However, China’s international credibility will be undermined if Beijing repeatedly makes threats by military force just because Taiwan does not act in accordance with China’s wishes.

The exercises involved the army, navy and air force, as well as rocket forces that operate ballistic missiles, among others. The exercise area was set up to encircle the entirety of Taiwan. The exercises were likely based on a scenario of invading Taiwan by blockading Taiwan waters, cutting off Taiwan’s maritime transportation routes and U.S. support routes.

There is a possibility that China could implement similar tactics in the event of a contingency in the Taiwan Strait. Japan and the United States should analyze how the Chinese side actually operated its vessels and fighter aircraft in the drills and apply the information in preparation for responding to an emergency in Japan.

Chinese warplanes and destroyers conducted drills to attack imaginary military targets in coordination. A number of military aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line, which has served as the boundary between China and Taiwan, and entered the Taiwan side.

The crossing of the median line by Chinese military aircraft has become the norm. It appears that the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping no longer regards the median line as something that exists.

A Chinese military spokesperson claimed that the purpose of the exercises was to punish Taiwan independence forces and strictly warn against interference by external forces.

This may refer to a speech by Taiwan President Lai Ching-te in which he expressed his intention for Taiwan to cooperate with Japan, the United States and other countries that share democratic values. However, using so violent a word as “punish” made an impression of China’s high-handed manner on the entire world.

Depending on Lai’s behavior, it is possible that the Chinese military will conduct ballistic missile launch drills and other exercises, and escalate provocations in the future.

Public opinion in Taiwan supports maintaining the status quo in Taiwan-China relations. In light of this public sentiment, it is extremely important for Lai to ensure that Taiwan will not give China an excuse to use force.

The Chinese military has included Kinmen Island and the Matsu Islands, which are effectively controlled by Taiwan, in the exercise area this time. This is an indication that the seizure of remote islands would be one of the key elements of China’s military operations.

Intrusions by Chinese vessels into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands have become the norm as well. Japan needs to promote the deployment of units to remote islands and increase vigilance through close cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard.

Regarding the Taiwan issue, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wu Jianghao said that “If Japan ties itself onto the chariot of splitting China, the Japanese people will be led into a pit of fire.”

It is quite natural that the Japanese government protested the fact that the ambassador, serving in a post in which he should make efforts to stabilize Japan-China relations, instead made a remark that could be interpreted as threatening Japan.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 25, 2024)