US ‘Deeply Concerned’ With China’s Military Drills in Taiwan Strait

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
May 25, 2024China News
US ‘Deeply Concerned’ With China’s Military Drills in Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Air Force F-16 jet fighters fly during a patrolling mission at an undisclosed location in Taiwan in this handout image taken on May 23, 2024. (Taiwan Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo)

The U.S. State Department on Saturday condemned China’s military drills in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan as provocative, saying that the United States is “deeply concerned” while “strongly” urging Beijing to act with restraint.

“Using a normal, routine, and democratic transition as an excuse for military provocations risks escalation and erodes longstanding norms that for decades have maintained peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the State Department said in a statement on May 25.

The department added that it’s monitoring China’s activities “closely and coordinating with allies and partners regarding our shared concerns.”

The statement comes after China ended two days of war games around Taiwan in which it simulated attacks with bombers and practiced boarding ships.

Taiwan, which is viewed by China as a breakaway province that must eventually be reunited with the mainland, on Saturday condemned the military drills as “blatant provocation.”

The drills, dubbed “Joint Sword-2024A,” were launched by the Chinese military three days after Lai Ching-te became Taiwan’s president, a man Beijing calls a “separatist.”

Chinese officials have said the exercises were “punishment” for President Lai’s inauguration speech, in which he said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were “not subordinate to each other,” which China viewed as a declaration the two are separate countries.

The United States ended formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 and switched recognition to Beijing under the “One China” policy. However, Washington has maintained a robust unofficial relationship with Taipei and has pledged to provide it with the arms necessary to defend itself.

“The United States remains committed to its longstanding one China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiqués, and the Six Assurances,” the State Department said in its Saturday statement.

The six assurances, which were formulated under President Ronald Reagan’s administration, include not setting an end date for arms sales to Taiwan and not putting pressure on it to enter into negotiations with China.

For decades, a hallmark of U.S. policy has been a commitment to a peaceful resolution of the differences between China and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense condemned the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military drills in a statement on May 23, saying it’s ready to defend itself if necessary.

“We seek no conflicts, but we will not shy away from one to ensure our nation’s safety and protect our beautiful homeland,” the Ministry stated on X.

In recent years, the CCP has become more belligerent with respect to Taiwan, which it views as a renegade province.

CCP’s Intimidation Tactics

Tang Jingyuan, a China affairs specialist, told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times that the drill was a meticulously planned operation that, among other aims, sought to foment internal divisions in Taiwan and bolster pro-communist sentiments on the island.

“The first major objective for the CCP is to assert dominance and exert pressure on Lai Ching-te through these military exercises, thereby influencing Taiwan’s future domestic and foreign policies,” he said. “Essentially, this aims to instill caution within Lai Ching-te’s administration. It’s a typical CCP tactic of intimidation through military means to shape Taiwan’s internal and external policies.”

“The second objective is for the CCP to rally domestic support through these military exercises. … Displaying military strength serves to reassure the domestic audience and maintains high pressure against any notion of Taiwanese independence.”

Mr. Tang added that another key aim of the drills was to try and cause internal division and strife in Taiwan.

“By conducting military exercises around Taiwan, the CCP is openly bolstering pro-Communist sentiments among sympathetic forces on the island, exacerbating internal unrest and intensifying pressure, ultimately fostering greater divisions and fragmentation within Taiwan,” he said.

Earlier, during a twice-a-decade CCP congress in October 2022, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that the “wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification,” adding that if it doesn’t happen by peaceful means, Beijing is prepared to use force.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that China’s timeline for reunification has accelerated.

“There has been a change in the approach from Beijing toward Taiwan in recent years,” Mr. Blinken said at an event in October 2022.

“Instead of sticking with the status quo that was established in a positive way, a fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline,” he continued.

“And if peaceful means didn’t work, then it would employ coercive means and possibly, if coercive means don’t work, maybe forceful means—to achieve its objectives. And that is what is profoundly disrupting the status quo and creating tremendous tensions,” Mr. Blinked added.

Tensions between the United States and China saw an uptick after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan in August 2022, with Beijing responding with a flurry of military exercise activity, including firing missiles into the waters around the island.

Mary Hong contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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