The Chinese are growing increasingly bolder and more aggressive toward Taiwan as their navy and aircraft get closer and closer to the island in a challenge to the Taiwanese armed forces.
Planes from China flew near Taiwan in November and December, raising concern last week at the presidential office in Taipei. Over the past two years, Chinese military units have sent planes 10 times just outside the Taiwanese air defense zone, former Taiwan defense minister Andrew Yang estimates.
China considers self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory that must eventually be unified. Officials in Beijing resent Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen for not accepting their “one-China” principle, which would bind the two sides under one flag, as a condition for any talks.
China is conducting the long-range flights in part to warn Taiwan against moving toward formal independence at the risk of a military strike, analysts say.
The two sides have been separately ruled since Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to Taiwan after the Chinese civil war, but the government in Taipei has never declared official independence. Surveys in Taipei show most Taiwanese oppose unification.
China wants to prove it can send ships and planes past the “first island chain,” said Joshua Pollack, editor of The Nonproliferation Review in Washington.
Taiwan, which sits 160 kilometers from China at its nearest point, has sent its own aircraft to monitor China’s movements and urged people on the island to stay calm.
Neither side wants a mishap, but the Chinese have shown that they are growing increasingly impatient to a unification that they want and are willing to use force. These drills are putting both sides in dangerous situations that may ignite at any time.
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