October 13 — The President of Taiwan said over the weekend that her country will not give in to pressure from China, while Chinese President Xi Jinping says “peaceful reunification” is sought, but full reunification “must be carried out”.
Taiwan’s defense minister said last week that tensions with China were the worst they had been in 40 years. China is sending a record number of warplanes in exercises against Taiwan, while the United States and its allies are organizing more and more naval exercises in the western Pacific.
A new Cold War – or worse – could be on the horizon, and Hawaii is at the heart of it.
“The situation in the Indo-Pacific region is becoming increasingly tense and complex,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in her national day speech.
US Under Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks observed earlier this month at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event that “the Chinese are advancing their (military) capabilities at a remarkable rate.” .
This includes submarines, Hicks added, “but even beyond what they do under the sea, it’s a very clear model of expanding the geographic capability, the scope of their ability to (threaten) other interested parties – whether around Japan, whether around, in the case of the United States, Guam or even Hawaii. “
China “is now expanding, getting closer to Australia, (with) the ability to threaten its interests,” Hicks said.
At the end of August, while on patrol in the Bering Sea and the Arctic region, coast guards Bertolf and Kimball, the latter being out of Honolulu, observed four ships from the People’s Republic of China, a cruiser missile launcher, a guided missile destroyer, an intelligence gathering vessel and an auxiliary vessel, operating up to 46 miles off the coast of the Aleutian Islands.
As China’s reach expands across the Pacific, it is the most immediate threat to sites such as Taiwan and, by extension, Japan and the U.S. territory of Guam, that is of greatest concern.
Asked about a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Hicks said, “This is something that we are watching very carefully. If you are (at) Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, you watch it day by day. in the region to reduce such potential. “
She added that “the United States, China and the world have an important interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Western Pacific.”
“So the fact that the US, UK and Australia are coming together around this set of issues, I think, just demonstrates how opinions in the region, in the Western Pacific, are changing, and honestly, in Europe, how positions are changing. regarding the severity of this Chinese challenge, ”Hicks said.
Earlier this month, the navies of the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands gathered in the Philippine Sea for an interoperability exercise d ‘about 20 ships involving an impressive four aircraft carriers – two American, one Japanese and one British – and more than 15,000 sailors from the six nations.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said part of the multilateral exercise took place in the waters and airspace southwest of Okinawa. The US Navy said the strike groups conducted air defense operations and simulated strikes against sea targets.
The British Carrier Strike Group commander tweeted that it was a “weekend to remember” with the scooters and escort ships representing “half a million tonnes of projected six nations’ marine power.”
After pushing back communist China’s demands for reunification for more than 70 years, Taiwan is now at the center of growing discord between the United States and China, The New York Times reported. “The Taiwan question has ceased to be a sort of narrow and boutique issue, and it has become a central theater – if not the central drama – in the US-China strategic competition,” Evan Medeiros, member of the National Security Council of the President Barack Obama told The Times.
The goal of the United States and its allies is to deter President Xi Jinping from invading Taiwan, a thriving democracy strategically located just 160 km from mainland China.
Patrick Cronin, Asia-Pacific security chairman of the Hudson Institute think tank, told an Oct. 4 forum that despite Chinese fighter jets invading Taiwan’s air defense identification area, he believes ‘an attack is not imminent. On the contrary, coercion in the form of psychological and other operations aimed at exhausting Taiwan is likely to persist.
China may think, “Let’s test the Americans, the Japanese, the government of Taiwan… on strategic stability,” Cronin said.
From an invasion perspective, Taiwan “is not an easy problem” for China, HR McMaster, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, told the forum.
Scott Harold, senior political scientist at RAND Corp. and expert in Asia, said at the same forum that Taiwan “must do much more, much faster” militarily, but its position is not hopeless in part because it has the will and some capacity to resist an invasion. .
The channel is rough and choppy much of the year and most beaches are not ideal for amphibious landing.
“Taiwan is very urbanized land, which means it’s basically built up to the coast,” Harold said. “So as soon as Beijing tries to push on the shore, it either pushes through mudflats and rice fields, which is not ideal for heavy vehicles, or it pushes in urban terrain,” which is extremely dangerous.
Taiwan has deployed “high performance” anti-ship cruise missiles and other missiles with some deterrent capability. He also noted that Taiwan has “spent the past 70 years preparing to defeat a Chinese assault.”
Cronin said that not only does China need to worry about Taiwan, “it will really have to worry about the US-Japan alliance” and “there is a lot for China to worry about.”
Japan has become “much louder” about the Taiwan Strait, and the government’s position has been “very clear that Taiwan is in Japan’s vital interest. And that’s because they see Taiwan’s security. as inextricably linked to the territorial sovereignty of Japan, “Cronin says.
Admiral Phil Davidson, the former head of the United States Indo-Pacific Command in Oahu, is now famous for his “Davidson window” statement that by 2027, apparently at the end of a third five-year term years as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party party, Xi Jinping may think, ‘Ah, the military balance is now more in my favor. This is my chance for history and legacy ‘”and mount an invasion, said Cronin.
That’s the concern, he said.
“So we have to be ready. The United States, Japan, obviously the Taiwanese and the international community, for this kind of miscalculation on the part of Xi Jinping and the Chinese,” Cronin said.