The increase in Chinese military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait is meant as both a defensive measure and as a way to intimidate Taiwanese, a China researcher said on Sunday.
China’s incursions into Taiwan’s waters and airspace are meant to intimidate Taiwanese, but now they also have a defensive purpose, since the US is conducting military exercises with allies in the area between last month and September, said Kuo Yu-jen (郭育仁), a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies.
The Ministry of National Defense on June 10 announced that the annual Han Kuang live-fire drills scheduled for next month are to be delayed until September due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Training of reservists has also been delayed, it announced.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
China is taking advantage of this delay to ramp up its intimidation, sending a record 28 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on June 15, Kuo said, adding that the exercises also made a rare incursion into airspace near Taiwan’s defenses on the east coast.
The US exercises with Japan and other allies are to take place in the East China and South China seas. China would likely respond to these exercises, but its intimidation of Taiwan would remain its main focus, Kuo said, adding that its activities near Taiwan would likely remain frequent and relatively large in scope until September.
“US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping [習近平] are likely to meet for the first time at the G20 summit in October,” he said.
Institute for National Defense and Security Research fellow Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌) said that the increasingly complex nature of China’s drills near Taiwan is a sign of things to come.
“China’s last drills included fighter jets, bombers, early warning aircraft and transport aircraft, among others. It will likely conduct even more complex drills in the future,” Shu said.
National Chengchi University professor Hu Rui-chou (胡瑞舟) on Saturday last week said that while China is still using “gray-zone conflict” measures, such as making incursions into Taiwanese airspace, “at the same time, China is making preparations for an invasion of Taiwan, such as ramping up production of naval vessels. It’s following a set pace.”
Taiwan must prepare itself for an inevitable war with China, he said.
“To be prepared for war is the most effective way to preserve the peace,” Hu said.
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