The People’s Republic of China (PRC) flew nearly 150 warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over a four-day period last week, prompting Taiwan to scramble its own defense systems. According to Reuters, China blamed the U.S. for increased tensions due to the American influence in Taiwan. Popular Mechanics reports that on October 1st, which was China’s National Day, China flew two waves of aircraft near Taiwan’s airspace. Over the next three days, the PRC continued to send dozens of aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ, concluding with China sending its largest force ever into Taiwan on October 4th. China has continuously attempted to dispirit Taiwan’s population and military by using pressure campaigns, but the situation earlier this month has been the largest show of force to date.
Chiu Kuo-cheng, Taiwan’s defense minister, said that the PRC’s actions marked “the most serious” military tension between the PRC and the Republic of China (ROC) in forty years. The Taiwanese Mainland Affairs Council also responded to the situation, saying that they are “determined to firmly defend national sovereignty and dignity.” Reuters reported that the Chinese Foreign Ministry acknowledged its government’s actions and declared that the PRC is completely committed to repatriating Taiwan. The U.S. also weighed in on the situation and maintained that its commitment to Taiwan was “rock-solid.” Soon after the events on October 4th, Hua Chunying, China’s Foreign Military spokesperson, said that “Taiwan belongs to China and the U.S. is in no position to make irresponsible remarks.”
China is using the threat of a future invasion and violence to antagonize Taiwan. There are ways to peacefully reunify Taiwan and China or find a two-state solution without forcible repatriation. While the “one country, two party” system is nowhere near perfect—Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council reported that nearly 90% of Taiwanese do not support that framework—it is an example of working towards finding a peaceful solution for a complicated problem. Other countries supporting Taiwan, including the U.S., must also begin supporting negotiations instead of aiding Taiwanese military efforts. If the focus stays on increasing military power in Taiwan, China will continue to attempt to justify its aggressive measures by claiming defense against hostile foreign powers.
China refers to Taiwan as a “renegade province,” which Popular Mechanics describes as one state, province, or other area seceding from a country and subsequently claiming that its administration is the legitimate regime for the entire country. Additionally, China does not recognize the ROC as a legitimate government, which means that they cannot meet with each other. According to the BBC, China introduced the “one country, two systems” policy in the 1980s, giving Taiwan significant autonomy if it accepted Chinese reunification. The current administration of Taiwan maintains its independence, and Reuters reports that it has complained for over a year about China’s Air Force flying into Taiwan’s ADIZ. This is technically not an airspace violation according to international law, but if it were, it could be considered an act of war.
China will continue to use “grey zone” warfare, as Reuters calls it, to wear down Taiwanese forces and test the country’s ability to defend itself. It is entirely possible that China will completely forgo attempting peaceful reunification measures if tensions are not eased in the near future. China is an international power and Taiwan has many powerful allies committed to securing its stability, so it is plausible that any invasion of Taiwan will be seen as an act of war. It is imperative that international organizations and states continue finding peaceful solutions to this conflict in order for it to remain nonviolent.
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