With US President Donald Trump signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, the US and Taiwan should conduct joint military exercises to counter China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan, a US academic said in an article published on Tuesday.
In the article published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, June Teufel Dreyer, a professor of political science at the University of Miami and a senior fellow at the institute’s Asia Program, said that Beijing has adopted what might be called an “anaconda strategy” to force Taiwan to surrender.
The pace of the strategy includes diplomatic, economic and military efforts, as well as attempts to destabilize Taiwanese society from within, Dreyer said.
Although the US — which is bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to maintain the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait — has taken measures to show its concerns over China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan, including accusing the Chinese government of “Orwellian nonsense” for controlling how US airlines refer to Taiwan, US responses have been largely symbolic, Dreyer said.
“More needs to be done to counter the anaconda,” she said.
For instance, “the US Navy should regularly send ships, including aircraft carrier battle groups, through the Taiwan Strait; its air force should conduct patrols in the area. Joint military exercises between the US and Taiwan should become routine, with Taiwan invited to participate in the annual multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises,” she wrote.
“For all of Beijing’s bravado about its determination to defend a sovereignty over Taiwan that it has never actually exercised, China will hesitate to attack the US military for fear of escalation into an uncontrollable confrontation,” she said.
“It could, however, punish Taiwan,” she wrote.
Chinese sources have warned of further actions, with Beijing’s foreign supporters urging Washington to refrain from doing anything that might anger China, Dreyer said.
US immobilism for fear of triggering a response plays exactly into the anaconda strategy — a gradual tightening that will go on, Dreyer said.
Touching on US-Taiwan relations, Dreyer said that although no high-profile visits or port calls have yet taken place, Taipei and Washington have signed an agreement to allow personnel at Taiwan’s research institutions to visit national defense facilities and laboratories in the US, thereby benefiting Taiwan’s ability to produce military vessels and aircraft.
According to the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings, Taiwan is to build submarines with the US’ help, she said.
Trump on Monday signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which includes provisions supporting the strengthening of Taiwan’s armed forces.
Section 1259 of the act includes a statement that prohibits the US secretary of defense from involving China in any RIMPAC naval exercises until the secretary is able to certify to relevant congressional committees that China has ceased its land reclamation and related military activities for at least a four-year period.
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