Amid another day of tension around Taiwan, with Chinese fighters invading the airspace of the island that Beijing considers to be its own, the Taipei government has threatened to overthrow the Communist dictatorship drones circling over it. its territory in the South China Sea.
Speaking to parliament, Minister Lee Chung-wei, head of the Coast Guard, said unmanned planes had been seen around Pratas Island, 445 km southwest of its territory.
The island, the largest in the South China Sea, also has two small atolls nearby. It is one of the 4 territories of Taiwan in these waters that Beijing considers 85% to be its own, and the most precious: there is oil in the region.
He is considered a perfect target for the Chinese, in case they prepare for an invasion of Taiwan. There is a unit with 500 Taiwanese Marines there.
According to Lee, the drones haven’t invaded the island’s airspace, but if they do, they will be shot down. If this happens, the already high voltage will reach a new level in the area.
On Wednesday (7), the Defense Ministry in Taipei said another group of Chinese fighters entered its air defense identification zone without authorization – a border on which all planes must theoretically identify.
The same had happened on Monday (5), and such frequency is rare even due to local provocation patterns. In both cases, Taiwan sent fighters to intercept and ward off intruders.
This is the normal objective of these forays: to keep the adversary alert and to test his ability to react.
But, as in the second, the flight pattern of the planes on this fourth has a different element: they sought to go around the island, theoretically to meet the naval group of the aircraft carrier Liaoning, which exercises in a part of the Eastern Pacific of Taiwan.
The Liaoning, one of two Chinese-type ships, had passed close to the disputed Senkaku Islands in Japan over the weekend, sparking protests in Tokyo. In the South China Sea, a US nuclear aircraft carrier is also in service.
Military analysts wonder if this new tactic aims to better study Taiwan’s defenses on this eastern side of the island – invasion scenarios often take an attack across the Taiwan Strait, which separates the country from the mainland.
Taiwanese Chancellor Joseph Wu said Wednesday morning that the United States, the island’s main allies, was aware of the risk of conflict.
“We will defend ourselves and wage a war if necessary,” he said, repeating the usual rhetoric of the country’s authorities. Reuters contacted the White House about the matter, but received no response.
Also this Wednesday, adding a signal element usual in the region, the American destroyer USS John S. McCain made the transit through the Taiwan Strait. Over the weekend, it was the USS Muster’s turn to do the same for the East China Sea.
All this movement is part of the ballet of the dispute between Washington and Beijing, which the departure of Donald Trump has not altered. President Joe Biden signaled the continuation of Cold War 2.0 with Xi Jinping, something that encompasses political, economic and military vectors.
Although few analysts believe that the desire of countries is conflict, the risk of accidental escalation with such aircraft movements still exists. In 2011, a Chinese fighter collided with an American spy plane, for example, and recently a Russian destroyer in the Pacific almost crashed into an American ship.
The most sensitive points of this advice are precisely the South China Sea, a vital route for exports of manufactured goods and imports of Chinese goods, and the Taiwan Strait.
In the latter, the stake is more political, given that the communist state formed in 1949 does not recognize Taipei as anything other than a rebel province. Now a democracy, the island enjoys legal support from the United States, which provides it with military materiel.
In an unusual situation, at the same time, Washington does not diplomatically recognize Taiwan – the agreement that normalized its relations with Beijing in 1979 implies acceptance of the vision of the communist dictatorship on the island.
Under the Trump administration, several American officials were sent to Taipei, challenging this notion and provoking the Chinese. At this point, however, Biden hasn’t gone further yet.
He even promoted a tense meeting in Alaska between the foreign ministers of the two countries, which emitted much heat and little light, but at least opened a channel for dialogue between the rivals.