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Chinese fighter jets and ships around Taiwan: how likely is a military invasion of the island?

The latest military maneuvers Chinese around Taiwan They are the most recent proof of a series of acts that the Asian giant has strengthened since 2022 in the Western Pacific. Taipei reported on Thursday the 14th that Beijing launched large-scale military exercises in its vicinity this week, mobilizing an aircraft carrier, 68 naval warplanes and 10 ships.

TO LOOK: Taiwan says it has detected 68 Chinese fighter jets and 10 ships near its territory

According to “The Guardian”, this is the largest number of warships sent to the waters east of Taiwan in many years.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense detailed in a statement that the ships were detected between Wednesday and Thursday morning around the island. Some of the ships, a set of fighters and drones headed to the Western Pacific to carry out maritime and aerial training alongside the aircraft carrier “Shandong”.

The very presence of “Shandong” conveys a message. The aircraft carrier, China’s second and the first to be manufactured domestically, aims to “verify whether Chinese forces can launch attacks from multiple points and blockade the island without having to use missiles”, as experts previously stated.

China’s Shandong aircraft carrier sailing near Japan, April 2023. (Photo by Japanese Ministry of Defense/Reuters)

Lin Yingyou, from Tamkang University, told Efe in April that the fact that the Shandong sails in Taiwan’s eastern waters “means that the Chinese army is also seeking to block the potential passage of American ships to support Taiwan.”

The intention to test a possible Chinese blockade around Taiwan was also raised this Thursday, 14th, by Ben Lewis, an independent defense analyst based in Washington, who monitors Chinese military activity around Taiwan. “It appears to me that they were practicing sustained air operations in the Western Pacific in conjunction with their carrier exercises, something we have not seen on this scale before,” he told The New York Times.

Taipei warned that China is intensifying activities in a “gray zone” around the island and accused the Asian giant of trying to increase regional tensions and pressure on this territory. Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has intensified military and political pressure on the island since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president and came to power in Tapéi in 2016. Since then, China has cut ties with Taiwan.

As has happened before, the presence of Chinese ships in the area is no coincidence. Taipei revealed the existence of Chinese ships in its vicinity shortly after a United States destroyer and a Canadian frigate transited the Taiwan Strait last weekend.

Furthermore, Beijing’s military exercise comes after the United States has held military exercises across the region in recent weeks with allies including Japan, Australia and the Philippines.

China last carried out major drills with “Shandong” east of Taiwan in reaction to a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speak to reporters after a meeting in Simi Valley, California, April 5, 2023 (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/ AFP).

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speak to reporters after a meeting in Simi Valley, California, April 5, 2023 (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/ AFP). (FREDERICO J. BROWN/)

Although Chinese President Xi Jinping claims he wants “reunification” with Taiwan without going to war, he has said he is prepared to use force.

Overall, the number of warplane flights around the island has increased sharply since Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited the island last year.

Therefore, analysts agree that China’s latest actions in the Western Pacific are an important show of force designed to roll back US pressure.

This flyer taken on August 19, 2023 and published on August 20 by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense shows a Taiwanese navy sailor guarding a Chinese navy warship (background C) at sea.  (Photo: AFP)

This flyer taken on August 19, 2023 and published on August 20 by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense shows a Taiwanese navy sailor guarding a Chinese navy warship (background C) at sea. (Photo: AFP) (DISCLAIMER/)

“China has mobilized more aircraft and ships to challenge US dominance in the region. At the same time, he became more frustrated with U.S. efforts to strengthen security alliances with Asian allies,” notes “The New York Times.”

The media recalls that, in August, the United States signed a trilateral agreement with Japan and South Korea with the aim of deterring Chinese aggression in places like Taiwan.

The tense situation has raised fears about a possible Chinese military attack or invasion of Taiwan, which would involve the Asian giant in a new high-level confrontation with allied countries on the island, mainly the United States.

Marco Carrasco, professor of East Asian Studies at the University of San Marcos School of Law and Political Science, sees no likelihood that China will dare to carry out a military invasion of the island in the short term.

“Any activity that China currently develops is basically of a deterrent nature, without a doubt, but it is not convenient for Chinese interests at this time to carry out a military invasion, especially given the repercussions it could have for Taiwanese interests. allies, mainly the United States, the United States and European powers,” he told El Comercio.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has maintained a policy of claiming sovereignty over Taiwan.  (Photo: AFP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has maintained a policy of claiming sovereignty over Taiwan. (Photo: AFP)

Now, the possibilities increase if we talk about the medium and long term, says the expert. On the one hand, China has maintained a firm stance in claiming sovereignty over Taiwan, and on the other, in the theoretical case that China did decide to act militarily in such a situation, it should clearly do so at a time when it feels it has some capacity to emerge victorious or that may have some advantage over the powers that may become involved in a conflict of this level.

He further explains that China’s window of advantage is subject to its military capacity, which is expanding. “There is a window of time in which, for now, there is a fairly large military reserve, but this number of young people will not last forever, but there is a margin that is about to be reduced. This is why many experts say that if China plans a military move, it should do so in the medium term,” he adds.

It should also be taken into account that there are some negative variables for China in the event of a military conflict. “It is not at all convenient at a time when the Asian giant is striving to recover its economy and establish a more balanced relationship with its East Asian neighbors. All the actions reported are, for now, of a dissuasive nature”, concludes Carrasco.

Source: Elcomercio

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