Taiwan’s government has warned that a close monitoring of the Chinese military drills reflects a desire by the Asian powerhouse to possess large swaths of the western Pacific. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who made the observation while speaking at a news conference in Taipei, hinted that the self-governing island is working on its defense in the event of an attack.
In case you missed it
The US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan last Tuesday after the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China, had threatened to carry out military action if the US Speaker and her entourage dared to visit the country.
Nancy Pelosi, as part of a planned tour of US-friendly nations in Asia, visited the self-governing and democratic island of Taiwan, which Beijing views as a breakaway province that they would inevitably reclaim.
The Chinese government has since last Thursday been sending military ships and planes across the Taiwanese territories and even launched missiles over the island’s capital, Taipei.
These military drills have grounded flights and disrupted shipping activities in one of the top zones known for global trade.
What you should know
Based on military capabilities, China flaws Taiwan in all aspects. While China’s defense budget stands at $230 billion, Taiwan’s defense budget is just $16.8 billion. In terms of active soldiers on the ground, China boasts of 2million people while Taiwan’s records show about 170,000.
China also has 5,250 tanks, 5,854 artillery, 3,285 aircraft and 777 fleets. On the other hand, Taiwan has 1,110 tanks, 1,667 artillery, 741 aircraft and 117 fleets.
What they are saying
Many political analysts believe that China’s live drills are a facade to save face as the country’s President eyes a third term. They believe the government of China is escalating the drills to force a reaction after failing to prevent the US official visit despite its several warnings.
Harsh V Pant, a foreign policy analyst at Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said that “Xi doesn’t want to be seen as a leader who is entering into his third term – which is historic – with a hint of weakness, and he wants to go down in history as a leader who unified Taiwan.”
Lev Nachman, a political scientist and assistant professor at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, said “I do not anticipate things will escalate further, but rather the new status quo will stay at this level of escalation.”
What to watch?
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on one hand speaks volume of the US support to the latter, on the other hand it is seeming as a considerable cost to the island. The US has condemned the military drills by China on Taiwan’s territory but hasn’t directly intervened in the blockage rehearsals.
Time would prove whether Taiwan’s alignment with the US and the visit of its official would prove advantageous to the island or would have tragic repercussions.