China’s sanctions against Taiwan are likely to intensify and last for months, even years


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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has concluded her Asia tour with a visit to Japan, after flying in from South Korea.

China expresses its displeasure

In retaliation for her visit, China launched six live fire drills in the waters around Taiwan on Thursday (Aug. 4), subtly sending a message that it has surrounded the island.

In addition to Taiwan, which called the action “highly provocative” and said the exercises amount to a “blockade” on the island, China’s actions have also sparked protests from Japan.

Japan’s defense ministry said five ballistic missiles had landed in the country’s exclusive economic zone, and four of the five were fired by China over the main island of Taiwan.

The drills are also held particularly close to Taiwan’s coastline, with a practice zone just 10 miles (16.7 km) off Taiwan’s southwest coast, which is close to the port city of Kaohsiung.

Unprecedented military exercises designed to change the status quo

Meng Xiangqing, a professor at Peking National Defense University, told China Central Television, as quoted by: Bloombergthat this was “a clear signal” to Taiwan that the current exercises “have surpassed all previous ones in scope and deterrence”.

These unprecedented live-fire exercises are an attempt to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a regional summit in Cambodia on Friday (Aug. 5), according to the report. Time.

Blinken is also said to have said, according to an official present, that there is no justification for this move out of China in response to what he called a “peaceful” visit by Pelosi.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at US think tank German Marshall Fund, had also made the same comment, saying that these military maneuvers by China are designed to trick people into thinking that Taiwan has “paid too high a price” for a visit. , as was the aftermath of then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s decision to buy the Senkaku Islands in 2012.

The decision to nationalize the islands was then made to ward off the then-governor of Tokyo’s plan to buy the islands, who indicated his plans to develop them, and even place members of the Japanese self-defense forces there – a step that would undoubtedly invite more people to serious diplomatic consequences.

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In anti-Japanese demonstrations that broke out in China at the time, several Japanese cars and companies were attacked by protesters.

China had sent ships to the area and also threatened trade sanctions at the time.

Thousands of Chinese protesters in Chengdu, Sichuan Province on Aug. 19, 2012. (Image via STR/TBEN/Getty Images)

To get a better idea of ​​how tensions in the American Straits might develop, we spoke with Chen Ching-Chang, a professor of international politics at Japan’s Ryukoku University, who explained via email about the potential implications of the series of actions China has taken against Taiwan.

Among the many points he made, he believed that China is expected to step up its punitive measures against Taiwan.

This is a view shared by other analysts who said Beijing had “pushed itself into a corner” with its heightened rhetoric, and that it would have to raise the bar significantly if it didn’t want to lose credibility.

His answers are published in full here.

Are the live-fire naval exercises, which were to end on August 8, intended as “exercise” for an actual blockade?

chen: The designated sites are close to major sea routes and major ports, and together they could be interpreted as a rehearsal of a “real” blockade, should Beijing decide to pursue “armed unification”.

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But we should not overlook the fact that China’s neighbors, including Taiwan, are also using these opportunities to gather intelligence on Chinese missiles and artillery pieces. Compulsion is a dynamic and dialectical process. It’s not just a muscle-building show from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

I would also like to note that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan involved complex coordination and communication between the US and Taiwanese armed forces. In fact, China’s responses allowed for closer military exchanges between the two, which would complicate the military solution of the Taiwanese issue.

Would China’s sanctions get worse?

chen: Yes. While the de facto military blockade is scheduled to end on Sunday, Beijing has embarked on a series of (de facto) economic sanctions and likely cyber-attacks. These measures will not stop next week and are likely to continue for months and years.

Beijing is likely to put more pressure on both foreign entities (in case they follow the US speaker or improve relations with Taiwan) and Taiwanese businessmen in China.

When the Japanese government nationalized the Senkaku Islands in September 2012, Beijing was also outraged. Chinese diplomats even described Japan as “Lord Voldemort” from the “Harry Potter” series who sought to overhaul the post-war international order. The bilateral relationship was rocky for at least four to five years.

However, since 2012, Chinese public vessels have been present almost daily in the adjacent zone of the disputed islands or even within a distance of 12 nautical miles.

This can be seen as a precursor to the now daily intrusion by the Chinese Air Force into Taiwan’s Southwestern Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). We shouldn’t be surprised if China’s punitive measures against Taiwan also last about five years, while recognizing that some activities could somehow become permanent.

How far is China willing to go to heed its warnings and stand up to the US on this matter?

chen: Contrary to a Russian idiom that dismisses “China’s final warnings” as mere bluff, I think this is not a matter of will, but of ability.

But even before China can acquire sufficient anti-entry/territory denial capabilities, there are many non-war gray areas it has exploited.

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For example, launching disinformation campaigns on SNS (social network services) to discredit the democratically elected government of Taiwan or to undermine the morale of the Taiwanese public in times of crisis.

If public opinion turns against the US, Washington will not have the moral authority to intervene in a crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

Some say the US is showing its allies it doesn’t mind risking Taiwan’s security to send a statement to China.

Do you think this trip has done Taiwan and the US more harm than good?

chen: No, I do not think so.

The White House is clear that Congress is an independent branch of the US government that it has no control over, and this message is not missed by the Japanese media.

In addition, human rights diplomacy has been an important element in US post-war foreign policy. Without political leaders like Pelosi to deal with human rights abusers, the US government will be more vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards.

Rather than say that her visit endangered Taiwan’s security, I think Beijing should not have secured this event in the first place.

I use the Copenhagen School’s securitization theory that it is generally not preferable to enter a state of exception and that it is better to take the issue unsafe and return it to normal political processes.

In other words, Pelosi should have treated Pelosi as a legislator, not as if she were a top official representing the executive branch.

Of course, the timing for doing so has passed, and Beijing’s wrath is not free – all the punitive measures cost money at a time when the country’s GDP is falling, provincial banks are on the brink of collapse and officials face salary cuts. Sanctions against Taiwan are damaging to both sides of the Strait.

While the short-term damage to Taiwan is not insignificant, China’s actions (before and after the US president’s visit) have internationalized the so-called Taiwan issue and more and more democratic countries are concerned about whether Taiwan will be the next Ukraine. .

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Top image edited via Tsai Ing-wen/Facebook


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