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Is China Preparing to Attack Taiwan?

The Taiwanese defence ministry has warned about China’s massive military buildup around its island. According to reports, 71 Chinese fighter planes and drones and 7 warships have entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ). Within 24 hours, 43 aircrafts had crossed the median line, an unofficial barrier in the defence zone that separates the 2 sides. Chinese jets include 18 J-16 fighters, 11 J-1 fighters, and 6 Su-30 fighters.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) claimed that these “strike drills” and “combat readiness patrols” were in response to “escalation and provocation” by the “collusion” of the United States and Taiwan. Taiwanese forces said they deployed CAP aircraft, navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond to Chinese moves.

China in Response to US Military Spending Bill

This is not the first Chinese incursion on the self-ruled island, but it’s certainly the biggest yet. An Island with a population of 23 million split with the mainland during the 1927 -1949 civil war that brought the CCP to power. Beijing considers it a breakaway province and wants to “reunite”, while Taipei wants to be independent. According to reports, there have been more than 1,700 such incursions in 2022, which are drastically higher when compared to 969 in 2021 and 146 in 2020. Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) headed by President Xi Jinping, the ties between the neighbours have worsened. China has been intensely pressurizing Taiwan through economics, politics, and the military.

Moreover, China is fraught with the friendship between Taiwan and the US. The current incursion is due to a military spending bill which the US senate passed last week. The approved bill included Taiwan-related provisions worth 10 billion USD. According to reports, it authorized 858 billion USD for military activities, including defence support for Taiwan and Ukraine. The aid for Taiwan also included fast-tracked weapons procurement, increased security cooperation and expanded cooperation with India on logistics, readiness, and emerging defence technologies. The Chinese foreign ministry responded to the US bill by saying it “severely affected peace and stability across the Taiwan strait”.

The US and Taiwan Relations

PLA has often used large military drills to demonstrate force whenever the US has taken action to support Taiwan. The same routine occurred in August when US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Enraged by the development, China carried out huge military exercises in the waters around the island and suspended some trade.

China is a strong opponent of the US meddling in Taiwan affairs. The US has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but it is its most prominent supporter and arms dealer. It is a major hurdle in China’s ties with the US, which is using tightrope diplomacy over the Taiwan issue. On the one hand, it recognizes only one Chinese government by having formal relations with Beijing instead of Taipei. And on the other hand, it sells weapons to the island under the Taiwan Relations Act.

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