China’s Military Engages In Beach Assault Drills In Province Closest To Taiwan

On Monday, October 11th, the People’s Republic of China announced that their military carried out beach landing and assault drills in the southern part of the Fujian province. This province is direct across from Taiwan. Even though officials say that the drills have nothing to do with the rising tensions, the recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions has raised concerns in the region and caught the attention of international actors.

According to the official People’s Liberation Army (PLA), their “troops were divided into multiple waves to grab the beach and perform combat tasks at different stages.” Alongside this report, a video was released that shows “soldiers in small boats storming a beach, throwing smoke grenades, breaking through barbed wire defenses and digging trenches in the sand,” according to Reuters.

Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, stated that the exercises were to “fundamentally safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and vital interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” Further, their actions were targeted towards the forces promoting the island’s formal independence and deter interference by external actors. Ma Xiaoguang added that the reason for the current levels of tension was due to the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) collusion with foreign forces, namely the United States, and provocations over seeking Taiwan’s formal independence.

Since 1949, Taiwan has been governed independently, however, China stills views the island as part of its jurisdiction. In the past, China has proposed a ‘one country, two systems’ formula like that which was established in Hong Kong. However, Taiwan rejected the offer, as the “majority of Taiwanese [is] in favor of maintaining their de facto independent status,” according to the Associated Press, “without giving in to China’s demands for political unification.” Currently, China’s government still promotes the “one-China principle” and seeks the eventual unification of Taiwan with the mainland according to the Council on Foreign Relations, whereas Taiwan seeks formal independence.

China has continued to exert its military power as a deterrent to Taiwan and potential foreign allies. Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng called the situation the most severe in the 40 years since his enlistment. Reuters reported that Taiwan’s defense ministry expressed concern of “China’s growing prowess, with new aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines and amphibious assault ships coming into service.” The increased capabilities of China’s military show that a peaceful solution must be found to this conflict before either side resorts to force.

The actions that China has taken in the past few weeks make it apparent that this conflict needs a solution sooner rather than later. Currently, neither party has explicitly stated a willingness to resort to force, so a peaceful resolution to the China-Taiwan question is still possible, but not guaranteed. It is imperative that China ceases military intimidation tactics against Taiwan and that the international community aids both parties in finding a peaceful compromise to this situation. Whether that be a gradual reunification or globally recognized independence, Taiwan deserves to be moved out of this state of limbo.