China’s war games raise fears for Taiwan’s security
CHINA HAS never renounced what it says is its right to “reunify” Taiwan by force if peaceful means are thwarted. So armies on both sides have to prepare for war, however remote it may seem. Of late the number of naval exercises China has conducted has caused alarm—all the more so at a time of worsening relations between China and America on a number of fronts, including American policy towards Taiwan. The delicate status quo, in which China insists Taiwan is part of its territory but the island functions as an independent country, is fraying. As the Global Times, a tub-thumping official Chinese tabloid, puts it: “The possibility of peaceful reunification is decreasing sharply.” Mercifully, that does not mean war is imminent.
On August 28th Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, attended the opening of a maintenance facility for the air force’s American-made F-16 fighter jets. In her speech she said she wanted “the world to see our strong will on protecting the country”. China has been staging a series of exercises along its coast. Just in recent days drills covering three different maritime areas have included “realistic” exercises in the Taiwan Strait, at both north and south ends of the island. This follows what China’s press described as a “massive” drill in the strait earlier in the month, designed as both “clear and unprecedented deterrence” and military training. No doubt carrying the same message, on August 10th, Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line in the strait, the unofficial air border.