According to analysts in Beijing and Taipei, China is preparing for American and Japanese participation in any Taiwan Strait conflict, with recent warplane drills across the island aimed at demonstrating its ability to isolate Taiwan from possible support.
Japan has been offering active military and diplomatic support and is emboldening states to rise against Chinese belligerence. A few days ago Japanese and US defence chiefs agreed to closely cooperate in the event of a military clash between China and Taiwan. Given the continued non-compliance of China to recognise and respect the Japanese sovereign territories and waters, Japan no longer seems in the mood to stay on the defensive. Now even China is recognising the Japanese could pose with their aggressive posturing.
On Tuesday, the Communist Party newspaper Global Times announced that the Chinese military was “continuing to improve its battle preparedness by making its regular exercises more complex and practical and taking potential US and Japanese interventions into account.”
Observers said that the exercise’s flight patterns seemed to show Taiwan being encircled on three sides, and the drill was a direct warning to the governments of Taiwan, Japan and the United States.
A senior defence official in Taipei noted the “aggressive stance” of the military exercise after ten People’s Liberation Army aircraft, including fighter jets and reconnaissance planes, flew sorties into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Monday. According to Deputy Defence Minister Chang Che-ping, the waves of Chinese planes are part of a “joint operation” between the navy and the air force.
After the Japanese defence ministry announced two more PLA warplanes crossing the East China Sea and Miyako Strait between the Japanese-controlled islands, Beijing made a pincer-like flight pattern around Taiwan. After that, one of the planes flew southwest before turning north and flying parallel to Taiwan’s eastern coast.
According to the study from Beijing, the additional sorties in the east demonstrated the PLA’s ability to strike targets in eastern Taiwan while also “locking down the island completely from potential interventions by US and Japanese forces.”
According to Taiwan’s Institute for National Defence and Security Research senior security analyst Su Tzu-yun, recent Chinese warplane incursions into Taiwan’s protective airspace amounted to “political signalling” by Beijing.
The noteworthy exercise on Monday took place in conjunction with a US diplomat’s visit to Taipei. Su told Newsweek, after the signing of a US-Taiwan coast guard pact last Friday, Beijing “expressed its fury” by sending 20 warplanes toward Taiwan.
Emphasising the military importance of Monday’s pincer movement, which included PLA anti-ship and anti-submarine aircraft, he said that it was “the PLA’s way of demonstrating its capability to isolate Taiwan if the US and Japan intend to assist” Taipei during a Taiwan Strait contingency.
He also said that Chinese spy plane sorties in the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan were also part of the PLA’s “anti-access/area denial” policy to prevent the US Navy from advancing into the area from the Western Pacific.
According to his review, the move contained additional signals for Japan, which, under their mutual defence treaty, would be obligated to assist the US if Washington intervened in a dispute over Taiwan. Su noted the PLA overflight around Japan-controlled islets governed by Okinawa Prefecture, saying China “wanted to prove it could surround the Japanese islands, too.”
According to PLA flight patterns published by Japan’s defence ministry on Monday, One of the Chinese reconnaissance planes also made a run on the Japanese island of Yonaguni, which is less than 70 miles from Taiwan’s east coast. According to the Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the Japanese government is considering raising its troop presence on the island of roughly 1,700 people as military tensions in the area rise.
The idea of fighting Japanese troops over Taiwan should send shivers down the spine of the Chinese troops. A Japanese alliance with the USA for protecting Taiwan from a Chinese intrusion shows that China is now facing a bold and confident Japan, which will not only safeguard itself aggressively but will check any aggressive overreach by the CCP, especially in the case of Taiwan and the CCP, by its latest military exercise, has showcased that it is trembling with fear from the Japanese.