Thursday, February 2, 2023

In reaction to Chinese assaults, Taiwan mobilises its defences

Taiwan activates defences in response to China incursions


TAIPEI: In response to the nearby operations of 34 Chinese military aircraft and nine warships, which are part of Beijing's strategy to shake the self-governing island democracy and intimidate it, Taiwan activated missile systems, alerted its navy, and scrambled fighter jets.

The massive Chinese deployment occurs as Beijing intensifies preparations for a potential blockade or outright attack on Taiwan, which has raised significant concerns among military leaders in the United States, Taiwan's most important ally.

General Mike Minihan of the US Air Force issued a memo last month instructing officers to prepare for a conflict between the US and China over Taiwan in 2025. Minihan's personal remarks echo US calls for increased preparations and he has a thorough understanding of the Chinese military as head of Air Mobility Command.

According to the defense ministry of Taiwan, 20 Chinese aircraft crossed the central line in the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday. This line has been an unofficial buffer zone between the two sides since 1949, when they split up during a civil war.

The majority of Taiwanese are opposed to coming under the control of China's authoritarian Communist Party, despite China's claim that the self-governing island republic is its own territory that must be taken by force.

The Defense Ministry stated on Wednesday that Taiwan's armed forces "monitored the situation... to respond to these activities."

In an effort to undermine support for pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen and wear down the island's limited defense resources, China has sent warships, bombers, fighter jets, support aircraft, and support aircraft into airspace close to Taiwan almost daily.

In what Beijing has described as dangerous and threatening maneuvers, Chinese fighter jets have also confronted military aircraft from the United States and allied nations over international airspace in the South China and East China Seas.

Both sides displayed their military might as a result of a series of recent visits to Taiwan by foreign politicians, including Nancy Pelosi, who was the speaker of the US House of Representatives at the time, and a number of politicians from the European Union.

China staged war games around the island and launched missiles over it into the Pacific Ocean in response to Pelosi's visit in August.

China's attempts at intimidation have sparked a backlash in popular sentiment in Europe, Japan, the United States, and other nations despite China's repeated threats of retaliation against nations seeking closer ties with Taiwan.

In contrast to China's system of total control by president and party general secretary Xi Jinping, who has removed term limits to effectively make him leader for life, Taiwan is scheduled to hold presidential elections next year. The majority of China's attempts to connect with Taiwan's Nationalist Party, which supports unification, have failed.

Even though the Nationalists did well in local elections the year before, their pro-Beijing policies haven't resonated with voters nationwide.

Taiwan has revitalized its domestic arms industry and leveraged its democracy and high-tech economy to strengthen foreign relations in response to China's threats by ordering additional defensive weapons from the United States.

Men's mandatory military service is being increased from four months to one year, and polls show that many people support increasing defense spending to combat China's threats.

In an interview last month, Taiwan's ambassador to the United States stated that the island had gained important lessons from the war in Ukraine that would assist it in either defending itself in the event of an invasion or deterring an attack from China.

Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan's de facto ambassador in Washington, stated that a new emphasis has been placed on preparing civilians and military reservists for the kind of all-out war that Ukrainians are fighting against Russia.

According to Hsiao, who spoke with The Associated Press, "everything we're doing now is to prevent the pain and suffering of the tragedy in Ukraine from being repeated in our scenario in Taiwan." Therefore, our ultimate goal is to prevent the use of military force. However, we are aware that, in the worst-case scenario, we must be more prepared.

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