China Intensifies Military Drills Around Taiwan

by Swarajya Staff - Aug 8, 2022 05:34 PM +05:30 IST
China Intensifies Military Drills Around TaiwanTaiwanese soldiers.
  • The drills indicate that Beijing is seeking to normalise its military presence near Taiwan.

On Monday (8 August), the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command announced that it would hold a “joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations” in an unspecified location near Taiwan.

The announcement arrived a day after the Chinese military conducted 72 hours of exercise near Taiwan, simulating a blockade, in response to Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

The drills indicate that Beijing is seeking to normalise its military presence near Taiwan.

According to reports, China sent "at least 11 missiles into seas north, south and east of Taiwan, and it deployed warships and fighter jets to swarm the island".

Taiwan is an island that is situated 80 miles off the coast of China. It is inhabited by 23 million people. It has long been a source of tension between Beijing and Washington. Taiwan is a democratically governed island but Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory and has pledged to take it back.

Pelosi's visit marked the highest profile visit by an American official to the island since 1997. In 1997, Newt Gingrich, then the House speaker, made a contentious visit to Taiwan.

After Pelosi's flight touched the tarmac in Taiwan, a chorus of Chinese government bodies denounced her visit. They claimed that it imperiled regional stability and undermines America's commitment to the one-China policy.

US maintains that it doesn't support Taiwanese independence and remains committed to the one-China policy. Washington's policy vis-a-vis Taiwan is one of strategic ambiguity.

The military drills are a show of force intended to punish and intimidate Taiwan.

"Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in generations, has made it clearer than any of his predecessors that he sees unifying Taiwan with China to be a primary goal of his rule — and a key to what he calls China’s 'national rejuvenation' as a modern, unified superpower," reads a report by the New York Times.

Taiwan played a crucial role in Xi's early political career. In 1996, when tensions flared in the Taiwan strait, Xi rose to the role of top political officer of PLA's reserve anti-aircraft division in Fujian province. Xi has portrayed himself as the defender of China's honour and played a leading role in making the Chinese society more nationalistic. The drills are also a tool to placate his domestic audience who feel disappointed by "what they perceived as an insufficiently domineering response".

Beijing has been steadily increasing pressure on Taiwan even before Pelosi's visit. In June, China's Foreign Ministry declared that China has "jurisdiction over the Taiwan straits" and that it cannot be considered an international waterway.

Taiwan has never been a part of the People's Republic of China.

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