The US and its allies could break a Chinese blockade of Taiwan, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Samuel Paparo said.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has “the number of vessels and the capability at sea to execute a blockade,” he told a news conference marking US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s visit to Hawaii on Saturday, Nikkei Asia reported.
“The question that follows is: ‘Do the allies have the capability to break that blockade?’ And the answer to that is a resounding yes,” he said.
The US military alone could defeat a Chinese blockade with its volume of firepower and “superiority in key domains,” he said, likely referring to nuclear submarines and other undersea forces.
However, an unnamed US official told Nikkei that Beijing could use means other than naval forces to effectively blockade Taiwan.
Citing Beijing’s military exercises in August, the official said China fired 11 ballistic missiles into designated exercise areas in the waters off the ports of Taipei and Kaohsiung, causing disruptions to maritime and air traffic.
“That’s a pretty significant impact on normal activities,” the official said, underscoring the missile threat to Taiwan’s aerial and marine lines of communication.
“You could essentially blockade Taiwan’s access, through the repeated imposition of these kinds of closure areas, legally, safely and in a way that would be extraordinarily difficult, either for Taiwan or the US, to challenge and to counter,” they said.
A senior Taiwanese official was cited by Nikkei as saying that the nation would not bow to Beijing’s pressure.
“The Chinese pressure campaign, coercion campaign, has proven to be counterproductive,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“These coercive measures not only strengthen our people’s determination, our will, to defend our own democracy, but also rally international support to Taiwan,” they said.
Taipei on Friday rejected Hanoi’s characterization of its recent live-fire drill near Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) as “illegal,” saying that Taiwan’s claim to the small island in the South China Sea was “unquestionable.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that the comments made by its Vietnamese counterpart about the military’s routine live-fire drills near Itu Aba on Tuesday were “unacceptable.” Earlier on Friday, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang called Taiwan’s military activity “a serious violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty,” saying it had caused tensions and complicated the situation in the region. Hang
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