China’s military activity post Taiwan election

China’s first significant military activity around Taiwan after the election heightens tensions in the region.

Taiwan’s defence ministry reported the detection of 18 Chinese air force planes engaged in “joint combat readiness patrols” around Taiwan, marking the first significant military activity following the Taiwanese election. China, asserting Taiwan as its territory, has routinely dispatched warplanes and warships to the region in a bid to assert sovereignty, a stance Taipei rejects.

The recent Taiwanese election saw the victory of Lai Ching-te from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a figure Beijing views as a dangerous separatist. In response to the election results, China intensified military activities around Taiwan, with 18 aircraft, including Su-30 fighters, spotted off northern and central Taiwan and to the southwest.

Eleven of the aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line, collaborating with Chinese warships for joint combat readiness patrols. The strait’s median line, once an unofficial boundary, is no longer recognized by China, as its planes regularly fly over it. Taiwan deployed its forces to monitor the situation, emphasizing the closely linked security of the Taiwan Strait region to global development and stability.

In a statement, Taiwan’s defence ministry expressed its commitment to strengthening self-defence capabilities in response to regional threats. Meanwhile, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office reiterated Beijing’s position on not renouncing the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, targeting foreign interference and what it perceives as a minority of separatists.

The United States, closely monitoring Beijing’s actions, urged China not to use Taiwan’s election as a pretext for escalation. A spokesperson from the U.S. State Department emphasized the need for restraint and maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait for peace and stability in the region.

As Lai Ching-te prepares to assume office on May 20, he has consistently offered talks with China, emphasizing his commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the strait. However, China has rebuffed these overtures. Vincent Chao, spokesperson for Lai’s campaign, outlined the new administration’s focus on continuation, deterrence, responsibility, and pragmatism. Chao emphasized the commitment to keeping the risk and costs of not taking action very low while maintaining deterrence against potential actions from the Chinese leadership. In the face of escalating tensions, Taiwan remains resolute in safeguarding its sovereignty and promoting regional stability.