Taiwan Holds Live-Fire War-Drills Amid Fears Of China Invasion

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Originally appeared at Zero Hedge

As the Trump administration has maintained its focus on the North Korean threat, there is another, potentially more severe, crisis unfolding in the Taiwan Strait between China and Taiwan.

Relations between China and Taiwan have deteriorated since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016, Beijing cut off communications with Taipei, stripped it of its democratic allies, and even conducted naval and air operations around the island in a show of force to ensure the island had minimal participation with international organizations.

In 2017, the Trump administration signaled the traditional U.S. commitment to Taiwan in multiple gestures. For instance, the president allowed for a massive $1.42 billion arms deal, which infuriated Beijing. Another gesture by the Trump was Taipei’s entry into the Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved travelers to the U.S.

While Taiwan shifted closer to the United States in 2017, Chinese diplomat Li Kexin informed U.S. officials in early December that the moment one of its warships visits Taiwan, Beijing will launch an invasion on the island.

Tensions have once again deteriorated this week as Chinese airlines have canceled hundreds of flights to Taiwan as disputes over aviation routes continue. Two major carriers, China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, announced Tuesday they canceled the flights because Taiwan’s government refused to approve them.

In conjunction with hundreds of canceled flights before the Lunar New Year, Taiwan troops staged a massive live-fire war drill to simulate an invasion by China on Tuesday.

Taiwan Holds Live-Fire War-Drills Amid Fears Of China Invasion

The military simulated an attack on the island using reconnaissance aircrafts to surveil incoming warships, followed by tanks firing rounds at the “mimicked enemy” landing around the Port of Hualien in eastern Taiwan.

In the air, attack helicopters and F-16 fighter jets launched assaults, supporting ground troops who battled the simulated enemy wearing red helmets.

Taiwan Holds Live-Fire War-Drills Amid Fears Of China Invasion

Taiwan’s ministry did not outright define who the simulated invasion was by, but it is pretty clear with the chart below who that is.

Further, the ministry said the annual drill was to “show determination to safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait and national security.”

The Taiwan Strait is the waterway that divides the island from China.

Taiwan Holds Live-Fire War-Drills Amid Fears Of China Invasion

According to the AFP,

Cross-strait relations have turned frosty since the inauguration of Tsai, who refuses to acknowledge self-ruling, democratic Taiwan is part of “one China.” The drill on Tuesday takes place annually prior to Lunar New Year holiday — which lands in mid-February this year — as a way to boost public confidence in Taiwan’s defence capabilities.

“Our combat readiness has no holidays,” Huang Kai-sen, a Taiwanese lieutenant general, told AFP.

“In order for our citizens to feel safe during the Chinese New Year, we are standing by and on guard 24 hours a day,” he added. 

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  • Barba_Papa

    Methinks China does not really have to invade the Taiwanese mainland, just isolate it through a blockade. And with enough long range missile spam they could potentially do that. No commercial shipping company is going to risk its ships if it means running the gauntlet of an anti-ship missile barrage. Especially if the Chinese manage to sink or critically hit a US carrier.

    • Graeme Rymill

      If the US put in a counter blockade around Chinese ports what would be the outcome? Is China really prepared to have its trade links with the rest of the world suffer?

      • Dainese

        US no longer have such power.As they left Afrin to Turkey they will yield from any confrontation against a powerful foe.

        • Graeme Rymill

          A straw man argument as the US never had any commitment to Afrin.

          • Dainese

            YPG is YPG no matter holds which city.

      • Gabriel Hollows

        If the US attempts a full blockade there will be war for sure. Though I doubt they can convince all of the surrounding countries to participate in that blockade in the first place.

        • Graeme Rymill

          The US doesn’t need to “convince all of the surrounding countries to participate in that blockade”. Once a blockade is established almost all merchant shipping will cease going to China. It will become too dangerous and shipping insurance rates would soar.

          The mining of Haiphong harbour and other ports in North Vietnam 1972 is an example of a blockade that stopped shipping movements fairly effectively.

          • Bob

            Do you have any idea of China’s integration with the US economy? China is biggest foreign holder of US Treasuries – US bonds – at over a trillion dollars in holdings. Should China be seriously provoked into taking action they can start dumping these bonds, they would lose money themselves, but equally crash the US debt market and cripple the US state capacity to raise money through bonds.

      • Bob

        A blockade of Chinese ports?! Genius. The result would be the collapse of the majority of western multinational companies that base their manufacturing or import consumer goods from China – they would have no products for western consumption. It would crash the market value of those companies – with no sales – with negative follow-on across the western economies.

  • Atif Ahmed
    • Ted

      Now you just have to convince millions of Taiwanese of this and there would not be an issue.