January 30, 2023

China took several aggressive measures this weekend after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, including launching ballistic missiles into the vicinity of Taiwan and imposing sanctions on Pelosi. While the incident may not lead to all-out war, it is another step in dissolving the US-China relationship – and gives the Chinese military the training it needs to carry out future attacks.

Pelosi is High-ranking US official visits Taiwan Since former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went in 1997. In the 25 years since then, China’s economy and military have grown exponentially. Along with this came the nation’s desire—and growing ability—to claim Taiwan. Taiwan, which governs itself independently of Beijing Under incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, he has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Beijing’s tactics for “reunification” of Taiwan with mainland China.

Now, the United States hopes to avoid a diplomatic and possibly military crisis with China. The relationship between the two superpowers has rapidly deteriorated in recent years due to a slew of problems such as mistreatment of Uyghur minorities in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, suppression of pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, and increased coordination between the United States and Taiwan under the Trump administration. , And the Alleged espionage and hacking by the Chinese government.

“There is a lot to object to in Chinese behavior, but nonetheless, there are many behaviors that the Chinese object to, that various stakeholders in the United States simply ignore and simply ignore, perhaps doing so at their own risk,” Daniel Russell, Vice President for International Security stated. and diplomacy at the Asia Institute for Vox.

Previous administrations practiced “strategic ambiguity” – seeking to reassure Taiwan without inflaming China. in May, Biden pledge that the United States would go beyond the support it already provided Ukraine in the event of China’s invasion of Taiwan, although members of his administration including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin insisted that Biden’s statement was in line with the one-China policy – official recognition that mainland China and Beijing It is the seat of power.

Now, China Conduct large-scale military exercises in the Taiwan Strait It was reported that 11 ballistic missiles were fired in the vicinity of the island. Reuters reported Thursday. This is the first time China has taken such a step since 1996 – showing how much has changed since the last time the US and China faced off over Taiwan.

“[The Chinese military is] Perhaps not even halfway through the various things on their minds, Daniel Russell, vice president of international security and diplomacy at the Asia Institute, told Vox. “I think it’s very clear that the Chinese are in the act stage, the response stage, as they describe it, and they have no interest in being pacified until they have completed this cycle of punitive measures.”

The end goal, Russell said, at least when it comes to Taiwan is not necessarily a military takeover — China is not yet capable of that. Instead, each crisis is tuned to “to force Taiwan, essentially, to its knees, to force Taiwan’s leadership to yield to the mainland’s terms of political negotiations.”

China’s military power has grown dramatically in the past three decades

China has become more aggressive in defending what it sees as its interests in many areas, including militarily in the South China Sea and hostile crackdowns on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong – both of which represent a threat to Taiwan’s democratic order.

China has claimed sovereignty over the South China Sea and several adjacent islands, including Taiwan, in 1992 Law on Territorial Sea. This document also establishes the conditions under which military ships and aircraft may enter Chinese territory. Now, 30 years later, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has the means to enforce sovereignty, and He was doing so with an increasingly provocative naval act Including the militarization of islands in the South China Sea

The United States asserts that it has significant economic and security interests in the region and acts routinely free shipping And other exercises thereAnd the Use of naval and air power to preserve the freedom of maritime areas. The United States also sells weapons systems to Taiwan for defensive purposes According to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979But these capabilities do not match what the Chinese military has produced over the past twenty-five years. Moreover, as recently as last year, both US and Taiwanese stakeholders expressed concern that the Taiwanese military was suffering from low morale and readiness among reservists and enlisted men. This is partly due to a lack of funding and a disorganized reserve system, as well as the belief of many Taiwanese that the United States would support their military in the event of a major attack, according to The Wall Street Journal investigation from last October.

China’s military growth Currently based on civil-military integrationwhich includes significant investments in Technique Research and development and dual-purpose technology aimed at strengthening both the military and the economy. This has led to significant developments in weapon systems including The so-called “killer carrier” missile that can attack ships The size of contemporary American aircraft carriersand therefore likely deterring US warships from operating In what China considers its territory.

The situation is far from the 1995-1996 crisis in the Taiwan Strait, when he visited Lee Teng HoAnna, who became Taiwan’s first democratically elected president in 1996, went to his alma mater at Cornell University, raising tensions between the United States and China. Then China deployed missiles and conducted military exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan, but the United States was able to repel those provocations. Sending two groups of aircraft carriers across the Taiwan Strait.

Since suffering this humiliation, the Chinese government has pushed to create an army capable of taking – and beating – the United States in a confrontation. What the People’s Liberation Army lacks is experience in the war zone, Russell told Vox. “They play sports, which is not a good thing for us,” he said. “And that kind of thing that directly addresses the PLA’s biggest flaw — that unlike the U.S. military, they haven’t spent the past 50 years at war.” Therefore, Pelosi’s visit was the perfect excuse to gain battlefield experience in the perfect context.

“The Chinese are taking advantage of what they describe as a provocation,” Russell said. “They are taking advantage of this to do things that would, under normal circumstances, be so provocative that they wouldn’t dare to exercise. So these are joint exercises that are, in effect, trial operations of military action against Taiwan – whether it’s a blockade or an attack of some other kind.”

Is there a diplomatic solution to the crisis?

There is no reason to believe that China will launch an all-out amphibious assault on Taiwan at this point, but this does not mean that there are currently no serious risks.

“In terms of reducing stress, rule number one: Don’t do anything that makes things worse,” Russell said. But this is easier said than done when the diplomatic relations that normally serve to defuse such tensions are as tense as they are now. called the White House Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang and on Friday reprimanded him for the military exercises; Now, China has called for discussions on other important topics and its military officials They do not respond to the Pentagon’s initiatives Increased likelihood of accidents and misinterpretations getting out of control.

“You have a lot of American assets, the People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan moving in a relatively tight spot. In the past, there have been incidents where Chinese pilots, perhaps overzealous or inexperienced, collided with American planes — and even more recently there have been many examples of maneuvering risky by Chinese pilots and Chinese ship captains.” “So this risk is real, and what makes it dangerous is not that an American plane and a Chinese plane might have an accident, but that the United States and China don’t have the appropriate mechanisms — relationships, dialogues, etc — that serve to prevent escalation, prevent an accident from becoming a crisis. crisis leading to conflict.

The complicating factor appears to be Chinese President Xi Jinping’s need to show strength to consolidate his power ahead of the 20th Party Congress in China later this year, when major leadership changes will be announced. Michael RaskaAn assistant professor at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, told Bloomberg that China’s exercises in the Taiwan Strait are “a show of force that enhances Xi’s political power at home and paves the way for his third term re-election.”

It’s also a distraction from the fact that “things will go to hell in a hand basket in China under Xi Jinping,” Russell said. between the limits of technology use, Arrogant social control, major economic issues Like a severe housing crisis, Chinese people laugh government policies on Weibo . social network — Russell said giving Xi every reason to step up pressure on Taiwan and the United States.

As announced by China It will not continue talks with US officials on climate change, a region where the United States and China willingly cooperated until Pelosi’s trip. “Every time an event occurs that leads to an escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing, as the visit of Nancy Pelosi did, [it] The relationship, when it cools down, is much worse,” Russell said, noting that Taiwan is not the only issue the US and China should negotiate.

“It makes the prospect of any kind of real progress — not negotiating Taiwan’s fate but the two major powers on the planet learning how to share the world without blowing it up — makes that task even more difficult.”

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