China fumes as US-Taiwan ties get firmer
China's response in the wake of the US lawmakers' visit to Taipei is hardly surprising. Such response is, however, highly unlikely to deter Washington and Taipei from proceeding with their present course of advanced interaction.
China's military has reportedly carried out fresh exercises near Taiwan after a group of US lawmakers, led by Senator Ed Markey, arrived in Taipei on Sunday to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The spokesman for the Chinese military's Eastern Theatre Command has said, "This is a solemn deterrent against the US and Taiwan for continuing to play political tricks and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."
Observers say the Chinese military's response in the wake of the US lawmakers' visit to Taipei is hardly surprising. This is very much in tune with its pattern of behaviour. Early this month, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island nation. Then also, for several days, the Chinese military conducted war games in the region and committed numerous violations to Taiwan's territorial integrity.
Such Chinese response is, however, highly unlikely to deter Washington and Taipei from proceeding with their present course of advanced interaction. The US Congress has always been favourably inclined to democratic Taiwan. In the 1970s, the Richard Nixon administration in Washington abrogated the US-Taiwan mutual defence pact (1954) and announced its 'One China' policy, Congress tried to repair the damage on this count and passed the Taiwan Relations Act ( 1979). The TRA assures to provide Taiwan with "arms of a defensive character".
Currently, the US administration, too, seems to be favourably inclined to having more robust relations with democratic Taiwan. In February this year, the US approved a $100 million support package to improve the island's missile defences. In May, US President Joe Biden, during a visit to Japan, claimed that the US would use military force to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
The observers suggest China would do well to abandon its frequent military postures in its bid to halt growing US-Taiwan ties. Taiwan today is an adorable democracy. The United States, the leader of the free world, cannot close its eyes to the defence imperatives of the island nation.
New Delhi has rightly cautioned Beijing against resorting to "any unilateral action to change the status quo" in the region. China could be wise to heed India's advice. Beijing ought to bear in mind that its experience of the challenges posed by modern-day warfare is extremely limited compared with the US and its allies. Its military lacks the capability of launching an amphibious landing operation in Taiwan.
China's recent military intimidation of Taiwan essentially consisted just of deploying some warplanes, warships and missiles. This would not do. The West could employ anti-missile, anti-aircraft and anti-warship missiles to thwart any future Chinese attack.
(Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, New York)
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