In response to the first visit by a US military plane to Taiwan since 1999, China conducted an amphibious landing exercise near the island, which it considers a rebel province belonging to the communist dictatorship.
According to the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command in its WeChat account, the training included landing armored vehicles in an area south of Fujian, across the Taiwan Strait.
The publication took place on Tuesday (8), two days after the United States did what the Chinese Foreign Ministry called a great provocation.
A giant C-17 transport aircraft, the main US military air mobility instrument, has landed in Taiwan. However, he did not take any tanks or missiles, but 750,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to support the fight against the pandemic in Taipei.
Also, two US senators representing the government of Joe Biden.
Chinese commentators have questioned not so much the aid, but the presence of politicians and especially of the big Boeing freighter. Since 1999, when a relief operation was launched after an earthquake on the island, no US military aircraft had landed there.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei escalated during Donald Trump’s US presidency (2017-21), when Washington forged ties with the island’s government, sold it arms and sent senior officials to visit the island. first time since establishing ties with China in 1979.
The Americans, recognizing Beijing, tacitly approve of its claim on Taiwan. So much so that the island is not recognized as independent.
But since the recognition, due to the links between local anti-Communist governments and Washington, a close politico-military relationship has been established, in which the United States is committed to defending Taiwan from an invasion that China says it does not ignore.
This has made the region very sensitive, and for years the United States has sought a certain balance. That was until Trump, who tipped the scales in favor of Taipei in the name of its Cold War 2.0 with the Chinese. The Biden government, as we have seen so far, has doubled the stakes.
There are some subtleties, however. The Democrat has used active and retired members of Congress to represent the United States on visits, avoiding provocations in Beijing like Trump, who even sent a secretary to his government, sparking a Chinese military backlash with the intrusion fighter jets.
The practice has become constant, indeed, and this year has seen the largest incursions by Chinese military planes, testing the defensive speed of Taiwanese airspace.
The amphibious invasion exercise, on the other hand, is an even more obvious message, although there are serious doubts among analysts about invading China, at least in the near future.
The first problem is that Taiwan is very well defended, and maybe it needs to be wiped out to be conquered, which is not exactly a smart policy of population absorption.
The second, obvious, is the risk of escalation leading to war with American and possibly Japanese forces coming to Taipei’s rescue. This calculation is made on both sides, as there are so many doubts about Washington’s real military commitment.
There are other bets. Beijing could annex some of Taiwan’s islets in the South China Sea, another highly stressed region in the Indo-Pacific, where US warships and Chinese naval air forces have clashed in increasingly frequent military exercises.
Tuesday’s simulation may even have served as a reminder to Taiwanese of this risk, which is far less serious in terms of climbing Beijing than an assault on the island.
The tension in the region has spread to the neighbors. After the Philippine government clashed with Beijing over an increase in the number of dictatorship ships around the disputed islands, Malaysia last week protested the presence of 16 Chinese military transport planes near its airspace. .