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28 Sep, 2022
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China-Taiwan Ties

Impact Of Pelosi’s Taipei Visit On China-Taiwan Ties

Following the recent visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan’s capital, Beijing has launched its biggest-ever military drills. As per this, the PLA is firing ballistic missiles and deployed dozens of fighter jets and warships around the island nation. Observing the military drills of China, the island’s defence ministry said Chinese drills are a major setback to China-Taiwan ties. These advancements leave no doubt that Beijing wants to invade Taiwan by force.

It is well-known to the global media that under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has evolved to a point where the possibility of Chinese invasion into the island nation is at an all-time high. However, experts and analysts differ in their views about this topic. They consider that Beijing will not follow the forced approach to capture Taiwan’s territories. Instead, it will follow a peaceful approach to resolve the issue. 

Experts supported this consideration through the burden of economic sanctions, war costing, bloodshed, and loss of resources, among others. Well, if these are experts’ opinions about China-Taiwan ties, then what is the purpose of China’s military drills around the island nation?

According to reports, military exercises have ratcheted up tensions in the region, and Japan said several missiles fired by Chinese forces landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEC). In addition, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) warned about the consequences stating, “Chinese military drills over the island nation will result in miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts, and unpredictable consequences among major powers“.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen issued a statement late on Thursday evening calling the international community to intervene and resolve China’s ‘unilateral and irrational military actions’. She added, Taiwan would not provoke conflicts but would not hesitate to defend its sovereignty and national security“.

China’s Defence Capabilities

According to sources, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has the strength of 2,035,000 active soldiers and around 510,000 reserved personnel. This soldier strength makes PLA the biggest army in the world. Looking at the strength of China’s air force, we can find that PLA’s air force strength involves 400,000 active personnel and 3,370+ aircraft. Similarly, the Pentagon’s 2021 annual report on the People’s Republic of China suggests PLA has built up the world’s biggest navy, having the strength of 300,000 active personnel, 530+ ships, and 600+ aircraft. With such a vast defence structure, it will be very easy for China to invade Taiwan.

Gravity Of Chinese Military Drills On China-Taiwan Ties

Chinese drills surrounding the island nation reflect a serious threat to the island’s sovereignty as well as its supply chain network. According to experts, the drills reflect what China is planning to undertake in the near future to invade Taiwan.

Chinese state-owned media reported- “The live-fire sea and air exercises are undergoing around Taiwan, which lies around 180 km (112 miles). The exercise involved more than 100 planes, including fighter jets, bombers, and warships”.

Responding to Chinese actions, Taiwan has actively condemned the presence of Chinese forces in its region and stated them as the main cause for worsening China-Taiwan ties. It was because the military had disrupted the water and airspace of the island nation.

On the first day of drills, Chinese forces fired several ballistic missiles into the waters surrounding the island nation. These drills mark the very first action taken by China since 1996. 

Taiwan’s defence ministry stated- “During the drills, the PLA fired around many missiles belonging to the Dongfeng ballistic weapon category“.

Tokyo condemned military drills and said at least five missiles landed in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which stretches 200 nautical miles (370 km or 230 miles) from the outer limits of its territorial seas.

Readers can relate to the seriousness of the situation with the fact that authorities in Taiwan have urged ships and planes travelling near its water or air path to find alternative routes, as Taiwan itself has cancelled dozens of flights at the Taoyuan Airport in the capital, Taipei. 

As a preventive measure, South Korea’s Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, too, have suspended their services to Taiwan for a few days due to ongoing exercises, as reported by local media.

Will China Invade Taiwan? 

The ongoing military manoeuvre launched by China once again revived the question of the possibility of China invading Taiwan. The question is also trending because the state-run Global Times recently published some articles defining the military drills as a rehearsal for ‘reunification of the Chinese mainland’.

The published article stated- “In the event of a future military conflict, it is likely that the operational plans currently being rehearsed will be directly implemented into combat operations“.

However, experts have different views on this matter. They say neither China nor the US wants a war in Taiwan in the upcoming few decades. They are of the opinion that the status quo in China-Taiwan ties is in the best interest for the global community.

China is trying to warn the US and Taiwan against their additional efforts challenging Chinese redlines“, said Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the US.

Bonnie added, “China is demonstrating its military capabilities just to impose a blockade on Taiwan, as (president) Xi Jinping does not want to engage in a war with the US. So, he is only trying to put a cautionary barrier to global superpowers“.

Hurdles That May Obstruct China’s Way To Invade Taiwan

Even though China houses the world’s largest and highly modernized military, it has to overcome several risks while invading the island nation.

The first one is in the form of the Taiwan strait, which the PLA has to cross to touch the island’s soil. According to this, the moving forces on their way to Taiwan will have to face aerial and naval bombardment by the island’s side.

Even if forces somehow succeed in reaching Taiwan’s shores, they will find it difficult to make a landing as Taiwan’s rugged coastline is not suitable for unloading armed personnel, carriers, tanks, and artillery.

The Chinese invasion of Taiwan will also invite war with the US as the legislation passed by the US Congress in 1979 paves the way for American forces to step into the matter if China invades Taiwan. However, this resolution has a loophole, as the US president is not obliged to give directions, but the US’s present leadership is clearly of the view to impose restrictions on rising Chinese influence.

One more thing about the conflict is the strategic importance of Taiwan to Washington. In support of this consideration, June Teufel Dreyer, professor of political science at the University of Miami, says, “The US will defend the island nation because it is part of the first island chain of defence against aggression by the People’s Liberation Army.

She added, “Chinese military strategists have referred Taiwan as the buckle in the chain that keeps the PLA bottled up behind the first island chain. Hence, taking charge of Taiwan would mean getting access to a very important port, Kaohsiung, and an entryway to the Blue Pacific and Guam, a US territory, which is halfway to Hawaii“.

China’s Concern With The Recent Visit Of Nancy Pelosi

Even if the government of Beijing never ruled the island nation, it considers Taiwan and its 23 million population as a part of its territory. Due to this, the Chinese government clearly objects to all official contact between Taipei and Washington. Well, here, the matter is not limited to the US only. In fact, China objects to all kinds of official contacts with other countries as well. This is why it characterized the recent visit of Pelosi in Taiwan as a provocation and violation of its sovereignty.

The US House Speaker’s visit instigated Beijing for one more reason. A few weeks later, leaders of the Communist Party of China will meet for the 20th Congress. At that meeting, it has prospected that President Xi Jinping would again get elected for the third term in office. Therefore, attaining popularity within the ruling faction becomes very important for the Chinese president.

Prospected Impacts Of China Invasion On Taiwan To The Indian Economy

Deteriorating China-Taiwan ties are not good for Indian economy in any sense. However, the major impact of Chinese invasion will be experienced by the semiconductor industry of India. According to reports, the chip industry in India is already experiencing high demand due to the rise in demand for electronic devices post Covid-19 era. Adding to its difficulty, the Russia-Ukraine war severely disrupted the supply chain network for many Indian industries. In such a distressing situation, if China invades Taiwan, the country’s manufacturing sector will experience a major setback in terms of production and supply of electronic gadgets.

The reason is clear: Taiwan is the house of the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturing brand- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). This is why the global community is closely monitoring Taiwan news.

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