What is the Danger of War Around Taiwan?

Chinese Navy ships

China once again conducted war drills in the Taiwan Strait, centered on a meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The Taiwanese president stopped in California on his way back from Central America to meet with Speaker Kevin McCarthy. At a time when Taipei-Beijing relations are on the verge of hitting rock bottom, Taiwan has become somewhat wary of Honduras’s favoritism towards Beijing. Taiwan’s president visits Latin America to rekindle ties with allies. His visit is very significant because at the same time former President of Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou visited China. It is rare in history that two former and current presidents of Taiwan visit China and the United States at the same time. Be that as it may, China expressed deep anger knowing that President Tsai would hold an unscheduled ‘transit diplomacy’ meeting in the United States. Although many say, this meeting was pre-arranged. However, none of the parties made any official announcement of the meeting held in California. China also threatened “severe retaliation” for McCarthy’s meeting with Tsai Ing-wen. As a result, China conducted a three-day military exercise. China also held military exercises around former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last August.

The character of the meeting between last August and the one just concluded between the US and Taiwan is somewhat different. Former Speaker Nancy overcame hundreds of obstacles and appeared in Taipei. But this time the President of Taiwan came to the United States and held a meeting. After being elected US House Speaker in January this year, McCarthy followed his predecessor Nancy in announcing his intention to visit Taipei. But Taiwan may not want another visit like Nancy’s to rekindle a belligerent atmosphere in the Taiwan Strait. Even though Taiwan did not want it, China conducted the military exercise with the announcement. Taiwan’s president made the visit at a time when hostilities between the US and China are on the rise. The way China is advancing day by day in the scale of world politics and economy, the United States cannot tolerate it in any way. Recently, with the aim of bringing peace back to the Middle East, the United States is not able to accept the impression that China has made as a sign of acceptance in world politics by arranging an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the United States wants some tools or resources, which it can break and take appropriate measures against China with its allies. And because of this, the US is showing more public support for Taiwan. If not, what could be the reason behind the occurrence of such two incidents of seven-eight months?

Many experts have expressed their opinions on this. Professor William Stanton, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, said, “I was personally opposed to Nancy Pelosi’s visit.” When such a high-ranking politician of the United States visits Taiwan, it actually involves pushing China. Regarding the meeting between McCarthy and Tsai, he said, “I think it is quite clear that McCarthy wanted something like Nancy to happen. But Tsai Ing-wen did not let that happen. He may not have wanted another US leader to come to Taiwan on such a controversial visit. But he also wants to show that China cannot prevent relations with a powerful Washington. That is why, this meeting is organized in California. The United States is not underestimating the importance of this meeting. The US is actually ‘playing with fire’ on the Taiwan issue.”

Meanwhile, after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker McCarthy on April 5, China ended the three-day military exercise called ‘Joint Sword’ on April 9. At the end of this exercise, the Chinese military said that the capabilities of various forces have been verified by creating a real war situation in the exercise. They also said that Chinese soldiers are always ready to fight. And separatism or foreign intervention—no matter how Taiwan tries for independence, they will stop it at any time. It is good to say here that this exercise was conducted keeping in mind the participation or close cooperation of the military forces of the United States and its allies in the event of a war with Taiwan, a confidential source said. The nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and warships have conducted drills to attack key targets in Taiwan and its surrounding waters, creating a blockade-like situation surrounding Taiwan’s northern and southern coasts and the Taiwan Strait’s territorial waters to the east. Active missiles were deployed on the bombers during the exercise. “Shandong Warrior” made by China also participated in this exercise.

China is trying to get closer to the people of Taiwan in addition to the military exercises. As mentioned earlier, President Tsai Ing-wen’s predecessor Ma Ying-jeou visited China. The Chinese Communist Party organized Ma Ying-jeou’s visit. Ma Ying visited five cities in China. He said that his visit is to pay respect to his ancestors. He visited their tombs in central China. However, political analysts believe that political issues have been discussed with the Chinese counterpart behind this visit. Because when Ma Ying arrived in Nanjing, he gave a political speech there. As proof of this, analysts say, when Ma Ying gave a speech, he said, ‘People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese; We are all descendants of the Yan and Pi emperors.” Australian National University political science professor Wen-Tie Tsang said Chinese leaders, in addition to military pressure, want to soften their tone on Taiwan, so they can win over more Taiwanese people. So that before the presidential election in Taiwan in 2024, nationalism does not rise again.

On the other hand, the United States and the Philippines conducted a joint military exercise before the end of China’s military exercise. Washington and the Philippines participated in the first largest military exercise in history. In addition, the United States signed a new agreement with the Philippines last February. As a result of this agreement, the US will establish four naval bases in the Philippine Islands. The US agreement with the Philippines is considered strategically important. According to a statistic, the United States has more than 750 military bases on land, sea and air in at least 80 countries and territories of the world outside its own country. Among them, the US has more than 400 military bases in and around China. US military experts believe that within the next two years, the US will create conditions around the South China Sea and Taiwan, so that China can be attacked. They are working towards that goal.

US Air Force four-star General Mike Minihan also hinted at a US war with China a few days ago. In an internal memo signed by Air Mobility Command chief General Minihan, he told commanders to prepare for combat. The Washington Post and NBC News first reported on the memo. Minnihan said, “Whatever I’m thinking, I hope it’s wrong.” But my guess is that we will be at war with China in 2025. China will be closely watching Taiwan’s presidential election next year. The level of Chinese military aggression on Taiwan will depend on the results of this election. Elections will also be held in the United States in the same year. As a result, the United States will also be busy with itself. China can take that opportunity. General Minihan addressed the memo to air wing commanders, including Air Mobility Command and other Air Force operational commanders. It should be noted that there are about 50 thousand members and about 500 warplanes under the Air Mobility Command.

In preparation for a possible war with China, the Pentagon is determined to increase its arsenal of advanced missiles, air defense systems and modern fighter jets. Doing so calls for the Pentagon’s largest defense budget in decades. President Joe Biden’s administration has asked Congress to approve an $842 billion budget for the military in 2024. This budget is about 40 percent more than last time. The budget proposes to allocate $91 billion to the Pentagon’s Pacific Deterrence Initiative; It aims to strengthen the US presence in the Pacific region to counter China.

The establishment of four new naval bases in the Philippines and the raising of this large budget proposal have only one motive, that of China. The US is not only taking these steps against China on the Taiwan issue. The United States is increasingly alarmed by China’s growing political and economic rise. Finally, by mediating the Iran-Saudi Arabia deal, China has added fuel to the US internal combustion engine. The United States thinks that if China’s progress cannot be stopped now, then the US authority in world politics will be greatly damaged in the future.

When it comes to military aggression, the US has always done so with its Western allies. We have seen many such incidents in the past. However, the United States is not getting close to many of its Western allies on the Taiwan issue. The French president has already backed down. He clearly stated, ‘If we get involved in a crisis that is not ours, Europe could face great risks.’ He asked the question, ‘Is it in our interest to get involved in the Taiwan crisis?’ Countries are divided over China. Some countries want to increase trade relations with China; Some countries want to join hands with the United States to oppose China. But that’s right, European countries don’t seem to be willing to blindly follow the US any longer.

Even if it does not get European allies in the war against China, the US will surely draw the countries of the South China Sea region closer. The United States will also draw closer to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) that the United States has formed with Australia, Japan and India to counter China’s growing influence. Who knows whether Japan’s initiative to rapidly increase military capabilities is a sign of that! There is doubt whether India will join the war or not. But whatever one says, what is the possibility of the US getting involved in the war against China, it will be understood in the coming days.

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