Taiwan Condemns Provocative Chinese Military Drills – OpEd


Taiwan has condemned strongly China’s last week’s joint military drills around Taiwan because they were a big threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region. 

During the drills, which began on May 23 and ended on May 24, Chinese fighter jets loaded with live ammunition scrambled towards targets and bombers formed formations to combine with warships to simulate strikes against important targets. China called the drills “Joint Sword 2024-A”. It looked like a rehearsal of how China would take Taiwan. 

According to The Japan Times newspaper, the drills focused on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrols, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control and joint precision strikes on key targets. 

Dozens of fighter jets carrying live missiles later conducted mock strikes against high-value military targets in coordination with warships.

Taiwanese coast guard vessels along with air and ground-based missile units were put on alert, particularly around the Taiwan-controlled island chains of Kinmen and Matsu just off China’s coast. 

According to the BBC, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense recorded on May 23, 49 Chinese aircraft, 19 naval ships and seven coast guard vessels close to Taiwan’s territorial waters. 

These drills really threaten the peace and stability in the region.

“Provocation and irrational action damaged peace and regional stability, and also the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The government of Taiwan has concerned about China’s hegemonic nature and condemned China’s  action. Protection of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait has become the consensus of international community,” the Taipei Economic and Trade Office (TETO) in Indonesia said in a press release on May 26.

Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te, who is from Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said on May 26 that he was still ready to work with China, despite last week’s military drills around the self-ruled Taiwan. 

Lai told reporters that he wanted Taiwan and China to “jointly shoulder the important responsibility of regional stability”.

“I also look forward to enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation through exchanges and cooperation with China… and moving towards a position of peace and common prosperity,” the france24.com website reported quoting Lai as saying in Taipei.

Lai, who was sworn in on May 20, earlier called on China to maintain peace and he is ready to face Beijing’s bullying.

 “Facing external challenges and threats, we will continue to maintain the values of freedom and democracy,” the Associated Press reported quoting Lai as saying.

Taiwan’s National Defense Ministry strongly condemned the exercises, calling them “irrational provocations and actions that undermine regional peace and stability,” adding that it had dispatched sea, air and ground forces in response.

“We stand ready, with firm will and restraint. We seek no conflicts, but we will not shy away from one. We have the confidence to safeguard our national security,” The Japan Times reported quoting a statement from the Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.

Indonesia, which follows “One China” policy, do not have diplomatic relations but has strong economic relations with Taiwan. Around 400,000 Indonesians live presently in Taiwan. If any conflict breaks out between China and Taiwan the lives of these 400,000 Indonesians are at a high risk.

“Taipei Economic and Trade Office (TETO) in Indonesia appeals to all layers of Indonesian society to support the maintenance of status quo of peace in Taiwan Strait and demand China to control itself rationally and stop one-sided military drills which can damage peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” the TETO said in the press release.

“Chinese military activities continue to disturb regional peace and stability, they not only damage peace in the Taiwan Strait but also threaten the safety of Indonesians in Taiwan”.

Communist China says that democratic Taiwan is a renegade province and it wants to unite it with mainland by force if necessary while Taiwan calls itself as a self-ruled independent country.

Last week’s China’s military drills were aimed at punishing President Lai, who got elected in January 2024 election, for his separatist and independent views. It calls Lai a “dangerous separatist”. 

Lai said in his inauguration speech that Taiwan would not be “subordinate” to China.

He pledged to protect stability and maintain the status quo in the island’s fraught relationship with China, and called on Beijing “to cease their political and military intimidation” amid rising fears of conflict.

The Global Times newspaper, according to the BBC,  had already described him as “arrogant” and “reckless”, and CCTV wrote that he “will certainly be nailed to the pillar of shame in history” and lambasted him for “selling the two-nation theory”. 

Lai’s alleged crime is that in his inaugural speech he used the word China to describe China. Beijing says that in doing so Lai revealed his true thinking that Taiwan is not China, and they are two different countries. It is, in their eyes, an admission of his “separatist” ideology.

According to the Associated Press news agency, the Pentagon said the United States was “monitoring very closely” the joint Chinese drills. It said Beijing’s actions “are reckless, risk escalation, and erode longstanding norms that have maintained regional peace and stability for decades.”

“We strongly urge Beijing to act with restraint,” it said. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin dismissed the U.S. calls for China to exercise restraint in relation to the latest drills. The U.S. “is in no position to make such irresponsible remarks,” the Associated Press reported quoting Wang as saying in Beijing. 

The U.S. has been aiding in the upgrading of Taiwan’s equipment and training, even while its official policy remains ambiguous on whether American troops and those of regional allies would be dispatched to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. 

Meanwhile, a Japanese government’s top spokesman stressed the need for speaking frankly with China on the Taiwan issue.

“It is important for Japan to continue to communicate directly and firmly with the Chinese side on the necessity for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and to work closely with the United States and other partners to clearly convey this position,” The Japan Times reported quoting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi as saying at a news conference in Tokyo.

Taiwan has increasingly become the target of coercive activities that resemble China’s gray-zone activities in the South China and East China Seas. The Chinese air force has conducted nearly three times as many incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone since January 2022 as it did between 2018 and 2021, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. 

China must think twice about an invasion of Taiwan. It could be a high risk for China as the external forces like the U.S., Japan, Australia and others may come to the rescue of Taiwan.

Veeramalla Anjaiah

Veeramalla Anjaiah is a Jakarta-based senior journalist and the author of the book “Azerbaijan Seen from Indonesia

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