Communist China threw a massive temper tantrum in the waters around Taiwan on Wednesday, bracketing the island with live-fire military drills and demanding large regions of restricted airspace.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted its actions were a “legitimate deterrent” against the reality of Taiwan’s sovereignty and claimed its drills would cause minimal freedom of navigation issues.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry disagreed, stating on Wednesday that China’s drills are a violation of United Nations Rules that was jeopardizing civilian life and commercial traffic, in addition to violating Taiwan’s territorial integrity.
“The reckless behavior by Communist China of conducting live-fire drills in waters and skies close to Taiwan, some of which are in the neighboring waters of Taiwan, threatens international aviation routes, challenges the international order, damages the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and destroys regional security,” the Defense Ministry said at a press conference.
“The national army is determined to protect our country’s sovereignty and has the ability and confidence to take on this responsibility,” Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang added.
Observers said China’s live-fire drills are taking place as few as 12 nautical miles from the Taiwanese coast – by far the worst escalation of China’s “gray zone” campaign of perpetual harassment, which usually involves squadrons of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighters and bombers penetrating the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that surrounds Taiwan’s national airspace.
China announced its military drills within minutes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) arrival in Taipei on Tuesday. The announcement said six large zones surrounding Taiwan would be restricted by the PLA from Thursday through Sunday.
The PLA also said it would be conducting joint exercises with air, sea, and strategic missile forces near Taiwan on Wednesday in preparation for the live-fire drills.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry tracked at least 27 penetrations of its ADIZ by Chinese warplanes on Tuesday, 22 of them taking the unusual step of crossing the “median line” that divides the Taiwan Strait. Chinese state media claimed some of the planes that entered the ADIZ were J-20 stealth fighters.
Military analysts reviewed the PLA’s announcement and noted that some of the restricted zones extend from international waters into areas claimed by Taiwan. The restricted areas will obstruct a good deal of commercial shipping, a problem the Taiwanese government is seeking to resolve by coordinating with civilian vessels to navigate around the Chinese obstructions.
China’s intent is clearly to demonstrate that it can completely blockade Taiwan at will.
“There are so many closure areas so close to Taiwan. The scope of these areas literally attack Taiwan from four directions – east, south, west and north,” MIT Security Studies Program director M. Taylor Fravel observed on Tuesday.
Most disturbingly, the proximity of the PLA live-fire exercises to the Taiwanese coast raises the possibility that missiles could be fired over the island, especially if the Chinese tyranny is eager to demonstrate the capabilities of its latest weapons against both Taiwanese ground targets and the U.S. Navy.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday used the standard terrorist rhetoric of blaming the United States and Taiwan for forcing Beijing to take its outrageous actions.
“We are closely following the itinerary of Speaker Pelosi. And if the U.S. continues down the wrong path, we will take strong and resolute measures to protect our sovereignty and security interests,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.