While conventional war between Taiwan and China is unlikely, low-intensity conflict is a possibility, security analysts said in Taipei.
In light of an increase in military activity conducted near Taiwan by China, it would be advisable for the military to be on the alert for low-intensity conflict, which can start with very little warning, retired air force deputy commander Lieutenant General Chang Yen-ting (張延廷) told a security forum on Tuesday.
The hotspots for potential low-intensity armed conflict include the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) and Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the South China Sea, as well as Wuciou Township (烏坵) in Kinmen County, which are all under Taiwan’s jurisdiction, Chang said.
One common characteristic of the islands is that they are “easy to attack, but difficult to defend,” he said.
Yuan Ze University social and policy sciences professor Chen Ching-pu (陳勁甫) said that a military conflict between Taiwan and China is not a remote possibility, as they have been testing each other’s red line on various issues.
The two sides should reduce hostilities and avoid such a crisis, as there would be no winner in a war, Chen said.
Former National Security Bureau director Tsai De-sheng (蔡得勝) said that nationalistic sentiment is high in China due to the political developments in Hong Kong, the pressure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the worry that Taiwan might move toward independence.
Beijing might take a tougher stance in the region to divert domestic attention from those issues, which could lead to a more complicated regional situation, Tsai said.
Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌) said that accidental encounters between China and the US are possible, despite the preventive mechanisms that are in place.
The two nations differ on many regional issues, and both have been conducting military maneuvers near the Korean Peninsula, and in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, Shu said.
Although their restrained actions indicate that neither side wants a conflict, they are obviously both preparing for such an eventuality, Shu added.
There were 18 instances of US military ships or planes passing near Taiwan last month, while Chinese military assets were spotted 13 times, according to the July 3 edition of Defense Security magazine.
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