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Taiwan Conducts Military Drills, China Concerns

September 16, 2021

On Wednesday, the F-16 screamed across the sky before landing on a highway cut through pineapple fields in southwestern Taiwan to quickly refuel and take off again. The Taiwanese military drill envisioned a Chinese attack on the island’s main airfields, necessitating the use of rural roads as runways to continue fighting. War is not imminent, but as China asserts itself more in the East and South China Seas, Taiwan is grumble up its defences. Across the region, the US and its allies are strengthening military cooperation and planning an effective response.

China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, regularly sends fighter jets towards Taiwan in an attempt to warn and intimidate the island’s air force. Chinese fighter jets, anti-submarine aircraft, and combat ships conducted joint assault drills near Taiwan last month, with China claiming that the exercise was necessary to protect its sovereignty. US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday a meeting next week with key regional players that comprise the so-called Quad — India, Australia, and Japan as well as the US for in-person talks, which the White House said are meant to demonstrate the administration’s commitment to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Following the announcement of the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian criticize the US for forming exclusive cliques, countering that China was a staunch defender of regional peace and stability. According to him, China’s development is a growing force for peace in the world and a benefit to the region’s prosperity and development. The countries involved must abandon outdated zero-sum thinking and narrow-minded geopolitical thinking.

Japan, a US ally that hosts the US Navy’s 7th Fleet has long been wary of China, a major trading partner. However, in the face of Beijing’s increasing military activity and broad territorial claims in the western Pacific, including a group of islands near Taiwan that Japan controls, it has recently become less reserved. Masahisa Sato, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a defence expert, stated at a recent security forum in Asia that the US-Japan alliance is currently focused primarily on a response to a potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and that it needs to be broadened to consider what to do if China launches an attack.

He pointed out that the Sakishima island group, which includes some of Okinawa’s most remote islands, is right next to Taiwan and is in the same threat. Sato said, “A Taiwan contingency should be considered nearly equal to a Japan contingency”. All three candidates running for Japan’s next leader on September 29 propose hawkish policies toward China while acknowledging its importance as a trading partner.

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