Source: Global Times
Two fighter jets attached to a naval aviation brigade under the PLA Eastern Theater Command take off simultaneously from a military airfield in East China’s Zhejiang Province for a recent flight training exercise. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Liu Yaxun)
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command on Thursday announced that it held consecutive live-fire drills in the Taiwan Straits and its northern and southern ends. It said that “a certain major country” has been continuously making negative moves on the Taiwan question, which has sent the wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” forces. Therefore, the drills are aimed at the current security situation in the region and to safeguard national sovereignty, according to the spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command.
The PLA often carries out exercises in the East China Sea. But it is rare for the Eastern Theater Command to talk about the regional situation directly, and single out a particular major country. It is also the first time that we see in media reports that the drills cover the Taiwan Straits and its northern and southern ends.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar just wrapped up his Taiwan visit. The new National Defense Authorization Act includes a proposal to invite Taiwan to join the US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises next week. These constitute a trend, as the US and Taiwan upgrade ties and take even more dangerous steps.
This is a salami-slicing tactic that is destroying the status quo in the Taiwan Straits. The Tsai Ing-wen authorities keep coordinating with the US Indo-Pacific Strategy to contain the Chinese mainland.
The drills of the PLA Eastern Theater Command send a clear warning to Taiwan and the US, which declare the Chinese mainland’s firm will that it will not sit still in the face of US and Taiwan provocation, and erosion of the “one China” principle. Taiwan and the US should abandon their illusion that they can smoothly upgrade their official ties, as this process is bound to be accompanied by the risks they could hardly bear.
Military actions are the ultimate card the mainland plays to deter “Taiwan independence” forces. The Anti-Secession Law has put the Democratic Progressive Party in awe. The recent drills by the Eastern Theater Command sends a clear message that the mainland’s military pressure on Taiwan will increase together with the increasing collusion between the US and Taiwan, and that as long as the US and Taiwan can bear the worsening situation in the region, the Chinese mainland fears no “shake.”
The PLA has more options to impose military pressure, including fighter jets flying around the island, passing the “middle line” of the Straits and even flying over Taiwan Island, testing ballistic missiles over the Taiwan Island, and carrying out military exercises in the eastern waters of Taiwan, until Taiwan is completely haunted by the thought that a war will break out anytime.
The Chinese mainland will not allow Taiwan to increase its bargaining chip to seek “independence” by acting as a strategic US pawn. The increasing collusion between Taiwan and the US will only lead to greater risks for the island, including severe turbulence and uncertainties in its economic environment. The comprehensive losses of doing so will far exceed the gains, and Taiwan will likely push itself to the dangerous brink of war.
The US must not overestimate the deterrence it could pose by military intervention in the Taiwan Straits. The Chinese people generally no longer believe that US military could dominate the battlefield once a war breaks out there. The Chinese people have enough courage to safeguard their national sovereignty by engaging in the military showdown with the US across the Straits, when all the other options fail. And we are confident we will win. We don’t want to go that far, but no country should think about separating Taiwan from China using salami-slicing tactics or intimidating the mainland.
Taiwan authorities can choose between a peaceful developing island and a place filled with severe military confrontation, where a hot war could be detonated by a tiny spark. In the past, the PLA’s military drills took place in the Taiwan Straits. Currently, they are occurring in the Straits and its northern and southern ends. If Taiwan authorities go further in the future, the PLA’s military exercise will emerge in the Straits, in its northern and southern ends and in eastern water of Taiwan, as part of around-the-island drills. Then, PLA fighter jets will carry out exercises above Taiwan.
The drills of the Eastern Theater Command show that the PLA is capable of launching a general offensive from all directions in the Taiwan Straits, and seize the island in hours. DPP authorities should use their final rationality. They should know that being a piece in the US chessboard could lead to checkmate. The day may come suddenly when they get swellheaded.