Taiwan conducts military exercises amid escalating tensions with China

Taiwan’s military simulated defence against surprise attacks during a two-day drill amid escalating tensions with China. Taiwan is a part of “one China,” and China has not ruled out using force.

Taiwan’s military held a two-day exercise, simulating scenarios where defence troops had to defend against rapid attacks, in an attempt to get ready for possible surprise strikes by Chinese vessels and warplanes. The purpose of the annual air and sea exercises was to increase public trust in Taiwan’s capacity to protect itself in the face of escalating tensions with China.

In defending its claim to be “one China,” China has never ruled out using force to annex Taiwan. China views Taiwan as a hotspot in its relations with the United States. Taiwan just elected Lai Ching-te as its next president, giving the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party a third term in office.

The defence ministry’s spokeswoman, Major General Sun Li-fang, underlined the necessity of exercising caution, saying that “any unilateral irrational action could very easily escalate tensions and sabotage stability in the Taiwan Strait region.”

Taiwan’s defence ministry said that in the 24 hours that ended at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, seven Chinese warplanes and four naval vessels were spotted near the island. A Chinese balloon was also sighted near the northern coast of Taiwan.

Taiwan has been strengthening its defence capabilities by procuring high-tech weapons from the US, reviving its domestic arms industry, and extending mandatory military service from four months to a year—all while China maintains a far larger military.

Tensions escalated even further when Taiwan objected to China’s aviation authority’s modification of a passenger flight path that brought aircraft closer to Taiwan’s coastline and south of the island. This “offset measure” will be removed from the route beginning on Thursday. The route was first launched in 2015 and was shifted seven miles closer to China’s side due to protests from Taiwan. Additionally, despite heavy opposition from Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration, planes will now be able to join the flight path from two coastal cities across from Taiwan.

China justified the adjustments as standard, stating that they are meant to facilitate air travel and guarantee aircraft safety in a congested flight path. However, Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration contended that the changes blatantly go against an agreement made in 2015.

There are growing worries that any confrontations between China and Taiwan may potentially draw the United States into a broader battle since the relationship between the two countries confronts numerous difficulties, such as an intensifying trade war and military posturing in the South China Sea.

These latest events demonstrate how vulnerable the Taiwan Strait region is and how diplomatic measures are required to keep things from getting out of hand. As tensions between China and Taiwan continue to increase, the International community will be closely observing.