China’s escalating aggression and lack of communication around Taiwan are causing fears of the United States being drawn into a potential war with China. President Biden’s upcoming meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping aims to reestablish communication channels and ease tensions. However, China’s unpredictable behavior is designed to keep the US military off guard and deter American intervention in Taiwan. Analysts warn that without a breakthrough and mutual trust, the current crisis could lead to a conflict any time.
Rising Tensions and Military Activity:
China’s military has become increasingly provocative towards Taiwan, conducting numerous intercepts of US surveillance aircraft in the Pacific. General Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized the importance of resuming military communication channels to avoid miscalculation. Recent activities indicate China’s intent to intimidate and apply pressure on Taiwan. Fighter jets have crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait more frequently, and Chinese aircraft carriers conduct drills near Taiwan’s east coast. These actions challenge long-standing norms and increase the risk of accidents.
Political Maneuvering and Elections:
China’s military coercion leading up to Taiwan’s presidential election in January aims to influence the outcome. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party, historically supportive of Taiwanese independence, is leading in the polls. China’s activities also put psychological pressure on Taiwan’s population, seeking to coerce the island into accepting Beijing’s demands for unification. The Taiwanese Nationalist Party, favoring closer relations with China, lags behind in the polls.
Deciphering China’s Intentions:
China’s large-scale military exercises make it hard to distinguish between coercion and preparations for a full-scale invasion. These drills aim to demonstrate China’s ability to deter or defeat the US Navy. By wearing down Taiwan and creating uncertainty, China seeks to discourage American involvement in defending Taiwan. The US, although lacking a formal defense treaty, provides arms sales and military aid to support Taiwan’s self-defense efforts.
China’s Strategy and the Role of Civilian Ships:
China’s reluctance to engage in military talks may be part of a strategy to keep the US guessing and gradually diminish Taiwan’s defenses. Incorporating civilian ships, including ferries and cargo vessels, into military exercises adds another layer of uncertainty. Analysts speculate that China may need these ships to transport troops for a potential invasion. While China may not be ready to invade Taiwan using civilian ships yet, their involvement in exercises points to long-term planning.
China’s increased aggression around Taiwan heightens the risk of war in the Taiwan Strait. Establishing open communication channels between China and the US military is crucial to prevent miscalculations and avoid conflict. China’s activities not only destabilize the region but also put pressure on Taiwan’s political landscape. As tensions continue to escalate, it becomes difficult to distinguish between military coercion and a potential invasion. The international community must closely monitor China’s actions and work towards a peaceful resolution to avoid a devastating conflict.