China sent a record number of military aircraft to threaten Taiwan’s self-rule in a major show of force to the Biden administration, signaling that Beijing wants to keep up pressure on Taiwan even as some tensions between the superpowers ease. they are reducing
The swarm of Chinese fighter jets, maritime patrol planes and drones that buzzed through the airspace near Taiwan in the 24-hour period until Monday morning demonstrated Beijing’s appetite for confrontation with the United States for Taiwan, the island democracy that China claims as its territory.
The military activity, which Taiwan said included at least 71 Chinese aircraft, came days after President Biden’s latest move to expand US support for the island. Beijing has denounced the US effort as an attempt to contain China and interfere in its internal affairs.
Tensions over Taiwan have been rising in the months since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in August, prompting Beijing to step up its activity in the area with several days of military drills. real fire China said the exercise was aimed at improving its ability to conduct joint patrols and military strikes, but it also made clear what the objective was.
“This was a firm response to the current escalation of collusion and provocations by the United States and Taiwan,” said Major Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command. facing Taiwan, in a statement issued on Sunday.
A spokesman for the National Security Council, who could not be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation, said: “The United States is concerned about the provocative military activity of the People’s Republic of China near Taiwan, which it is destabilizing, risks miscalculation and undermines regional peace and stability.
“We will continue to help Taiwan maintain a sufficient self-defense capability in line with our long-standing commitments,” the spokesman said.
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The military policy bill that President Biden signed into law on Friday sets out lawmakers’ national security priorities for the coming year. This year, US lawmakers, eyeing the protracted war in Europe and rising tensions with China, approved funding for Ukraine and authorized up to $10 billion over the next five years for Taiwan.
“A large-scale action is, of course, a response to President Biden’s signing of the act,” said Su Tzu-yun, a security analyst at the National Defense and Security Research Institute in Taipei. “This pattern is likely to continue.”
“The United States has moved from strategic ambiguity to constructive clarity,” he said. Su, referring to the latest military legislation. “Biden has made Taiwan a quasi-partner that fits the role of a security partner in his Indo-Pacific strategy.”
For years, China has sent naval and air forces to the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone as a way to test and wear down the island’s resolve against a possible military offensive. The Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, is larger than the sovereign airspace claimed by Taiwan, and serves as a unilaterally declared area in which the island’s authorities claim special rights to tell aircraft that identify
China’s military flights around Taiwan have increased after Ms. Pelosi’s visit, a trip that reinforced suspicions in Beijing that the United States has loosened its commitment to a “one China” policy. Under this policy, Washington recognizes, but does not endorse, Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China. Washington also says resolving Taiwan’s status must be done peacefully, and a 1979 law says the United States can intervene if Taiwan is attacked. Chinese officials and experts say successive US presidents have leaned toward Taiwan, while US officials say Beijing has destabilized cross-strait relations through bellicose actions and rhetoric.
The latest military exercise was notable for breaking a single-day record, both for the total number of aircraft deployed and for the number that crossed the so-called median line, an informal boundary between the two sides. Forty-seven of the 71 planes crossed that line, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry. Going over the line is seen as more provocative, because the plane would be on a straight course over Taiwan if it didn’t move away.
In a statement on Monday, the defense ministry said the Taiwanese military was monitoring the situation and ordered its combat air patrol, Navy ships and land-based missile systems to respond.
“What the Chinese Communist Party has been doing has once again exposed its mentality of using force to resolve differences and undermine regional peace and stability,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement on Sunday. communicated
Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military commentator who is a former Chinese military officer, said in an interview that the new US defense legislation was a test of China’s limits. “The People’s Liberation Army would use severe military exercises to warn the United States that if it insists on going its way, there will be no peace in the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
Taiwan has recently pushed to strengthen its own military, fueled by concerns about poorly trained personnel and renewed urgency after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. President Tsai Ing-wen will hold a press conference on Tuesday, according to Taiwan’s presidential office. He is expected to outline a plan to extend the military conscription period from four months to a year.
China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has sought in recent months to stabilize relations with the United States and other Western governments, which had soured for years over human rights issues, technology and trade tensions, as well as to deepen the mistrust of Taiwan. But when Mr. Xi and President Biden held a face-to-face summit in Bali in November, Mr. Xi also stressed that Taiwan’s future and US support for the island remain a potential fuse for crisis, even conflict.
“President Xi has stressed that the Taiwan issue is “the core of China’s core interests”, the foundation of the political basis of China-US relations and the red line that the United States must not cross nor should they cross,” China explained. Minister Wang Yi said at the time.
Mr. Xi, like previous Communist Party leaders, has said he wants to peacefully bring Taiwan under Chinese rule, but will not rule out the use of force. Many experts say the balance of military power across the Taiwan Strait has been shifting in China’s favor, and some believe Mr. Xi could step up military pressure on Taiwan in the coming years.
But the Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s armed forces, released last month, said trying to take control of Taiwan remained a daunting and potentially devastating gamble for Mr. Xi.
“Large-scale amphibious invasion is one of the most complicated and difficult military operations,” the report states. The potential setbacks and a likely wave of international opprobrium, he added, would make an invasion a “significant political and military risk for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, even assuming a successful landing and breakout.”
Chris Buckley i Eric Schmitt provide reports