Monday, March 29, 2021

Rumors Of War: China 'Flirting' With Taiwan Takeover - 'Closer Than Most Think'

US Believes China "Flirting" With Taiwan Takeover: It's "Closer Than Most Think"


A weekend report in Financial Times suggests the world is closer than ever to witnessing a major conflict flare up over Taiwan. 

Multiple alarming quotes from top American defense officials included in the report reveal that Washington fears China is now in the process of planning a takeover of the US-backed democratic island.

Ironically the report was published shortly on the heels of the Chinese Air Force's largest ever incursion into Taiwan's air space Friday, which saw a whopping 20 aircraft, including four long-range bombers, breach the country's southwest defense zone. FT concludes based on the US officials interviewed for the report that the Biden administration now sees Beijing as actively "flirting with the idea of seizing control of Taiwan as President Xi Jinping becomes more willing to take risks to boost his legacy."

Such a scenario would force Washington's hand — it would have to decide to either go to war on behalf of its tiny ally halfway across the world against the massive and formidable People's Liberation Army (PLA) — or sit back and watch from the sidelines somewhat helplessly.

"China appears to be moving from a period of being content with the status quo over Taiwan to a period in which they are more impatient and more prepared to test the limits and flirt with the idea of unification," one senior US official was cited in the report as saying.

The official stated that Xi sees this as a crucial part of his legacy moving forward. The Chinese president "sees capstone progress on Taiwan as important to his legitimacy and legacy," the official was quoted further as saying. "It seems that he is prepared to take more risks," the official said.

Reuters in Taipei

Twenty Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Friday in the largest incursion yet reported by the island’s defence ministry, marking a dramatic escalation in tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

The ministry said the air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the incursion into the south-western part of its air defence identification zone. It also said its planes warned the Chinese aircraft, including by radio.

It was the largest incursion by the Chinese air force since Taiwan’s defence ministry began disclosing almost daily Chinese military flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea last year.

Some of the Chinese aircraft flew in the airspace to the south of Taiwan and passed through the Bashi Channel, which separates the island from the Philippines, the ministry said.

A person familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters that the Chinese military was conducting exercises that would simulate an operation against US warships that sail through the Bashi Channel.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up military activities near the democratic island in recent months, a move that Taiwan says jeopardises regional stability.

The presence of so many Chinese combat aircraft on Friday’s mission – Taiwan said it was made up of four nuclear-capable H-6K bombers and 10 J-16 fighter jets, among others – was unusual and came as the island’s air force suspended all training missions after two fighter jet crashes this week.

There was no immediate comment from China’s defence ministry. Beijing routinely says such exercises are nothing unusual and are designed to show its determination to defend its sovereignty.

Earlier on Friday, Taiwan and the US signed their first agreement under Joe Biden’s presidency, establishing a coastguard working group to coordinate policy after China passed a law that allows its coastguard to fire on foreign vessels.

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