Taiwan Officials Call on Beijing to Ease Regional Military, Economic Tensions

September 7, 2022 4:35 PM

Taiwan’s minister of mainland affairs on Wednesday called on the People’s Republic of China to to ease tensions in the region to maintain security and peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Tai-Sun Chiu told Beijing to stop flaunting its military power and tightening its economic grip on Taipei, said in a prepared video to the Center for New American Security. 

Beijing “has become a destabilizing factor in the Taiwan Strait” that threatens global trade, international shipping and air travel, Chiu said. This “currently complex and changing situation” has become an increasingly dangerous one of miscalculation and military escalation following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif) August visit to the island.

Beijing’s actions include sending military aircraft across the median line in the 100-mile wide strait, meaning Chinese fighters were four minutes from Taiwan itself, and bracketing the island with warships and flying missiles high over Taiwan in extended live-fire military exercises.

“Taiwan will not act provocatively” and “is committed to preserving the status quo in the Strait,” Chiu said.

In a panel discussion following Chiu’s presentation, Arthur Ding, director of the Institute of International Relations at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, said that with the 20th Communist Party Congress looming, he expects Xi Jin-ping “won’t walk back from Warrior Diplomacy,” of threats, bullying and “creating more tensions” following Pelosi’s visit.

Bringing Taiwan under Beijing’s control is a legacy goal of Xi, as he is expected to begin a third term as leader of the party and nation, Ding added. Xi sees himself as “powerful as Chairman Mao” and very likely could be setting his sights on a fourth term.

But failure to resolve the Taiwan sovereignty issue in some way favorable to Beijing could leave Xi looking like a “failed leader” who needs to be replaced, raising his own political stakes in the outcome.

Chiu said Taiwan “was never governed by the PRC [Peoples Republic of China]” and for decades both “have lived under two systems” without resorting to the use of force.

He accused China of waging “ideological and cognitive warfare,” in addition to displaying its military capabilities to try to undermine sovereign democracy.

In the face of those threats, Chiu described Taiwan as “an island of resilience.”

Beijing is “using the full spectrum of China’s strengths” to get its way with Taiwan. Chiu, who has served in this key diplomatic post since February, said China has been steadily escalating tensions since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and using the Russian invasion of Ukraine as cover for its latest moves regionally.

Chiu said he did not see Beijing backing away from using coercion to get its way in the East and South China seas and the entire Indo-Pacific.

Jacob Stokes, during the panel discussion, said the most likely scenario in Taiwan Strait for the immediate future is a “controlled rise in pressure” on Beijing’s part, since it has established “a new normal” in what China is willing to do and get away with since the Pelosi visit. China’s increased number of aircraft intrusions and maritime probes are increasing the wear and tear on Taiwan’s defense forces.

Stokes applauded the Biden administration’s latest move to sell Taiwan $1.1 billion of military hardware. The package, which is the latest the State Department has approved so far, includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles.

Stokes, however, added that fulfilling the order could be a challenge because of America’s commitments to Ukraine.

In the wake of the escalating military threats from the mainland, Taiwan is also raising its defense spending to 2.4 percent of its gross domestic product.

John Grady

John Grady

John Grady, a former managing editor of Navy Times, retired as director of communications for the Association of the United States Army. His reporting on national defense and national security has appeared on Breaking Defense, GovExec.com, NextGov.com, DefenseOne.com, Government Executive and USNI News.

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