China ‘running out of patience’ and could ‘take Taiwan by force’ for first time in history | World | News
Tensions over the disputed island have spiked in recent months, with China last month launching military drills which saw jets cross the median strait, a notional maritime border which divides Taiwan from the mainland – but which Beijing now rejects. More recently, during a visit to a military base, China’s President Xi Jinping told Chinese Marines to “focus your minds and energy on preparing to go to war”.
Dr Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign and Defense Policy Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute has warned the US not to “push the envelope” on the issue – or risk triggering a potentially catastrophic conflict.
Dr Mastro issued her chilling assessment during an interview on Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR).
She said: “Taiwan has always been the number one priority. But the military’s role in promoting their views on Taiwan have increased this year.”
Xi Jinping could take Tsai Ing-wen’s Taiwan by force, Dr Mastro warned
Chinese jets crossed the median line earlier this year
China regards Taiwan as part of its territory in accordance with its “One China” policy and has reacted angrily to the US sending officials including Secretary of Health Alex Azar there.
Dr Mastro added: “Xi Jinping almost two years ago gave this speech in which he said that he wanted to see concrete progress towards reunification with Taiwan.
“Now, before, the position of Beijing had always been to prevent independence.
“Now, my view is that this speech basically changed what the standard is.
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“Now it’s not enough for Taiwan not to be independent. They have to be making moves towards reunification.
“And so, more and more, they’re using military forms of coercion to get Taiwan there.”
Even though Taiwan, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, has never formally declared independence, it enjoys an autonomous existence.
However, but Dr Mastro suggested this was something it may not be able to take for granted much longer.
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Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s President
Alex Azar arrives in Taiwan earlier this year
For the first time in its history, there’s the option of taking Taiwan by force
She explained: “I think the current threat is that the CCP is running out of patience, and their military is becoming more and more capable.
“So for the first time in its history, there’s the option of taking Taiwan by force.
“And even if China doesn’t take that option, it’s obviously going to colour their behaviour and how they act if they feel confident that that is an option that they can now use that they couldn’t use before.”
The ongoing pressure was intended to send a signal to both Taipei and Washington, Dr Mastro added.
Taiwan is an island which China regards as part of its territory
She said: “I think, in general, the constant military movements and exercises that we see across the strait do create a threatening environment.
“Just between September 15 and September 24, Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s airspace 46 times.
“China is now saying that they no longer respect the median line, which was a boundary, an air boundary, that existed across the strait for decades and decades.
“We see China doing large-scale military exercises across the strait. They’re trying to show probably Taiwan and also the United States that this isn’t 1996.
A Chinese tank takes part in a military drill
“They now have the capability, or they believe they have the capability, to take the island by force.
“So President Tsai of Taiwan and President Trump or whatever president may or may not follow should not push the envelope on this issue.”
Looking beyond tomorrow’s US Presidential election, Dr Mastro said significant challenges faced the winner, who would need to combine a message that the US would not do anything to threaten Chinese interests unnecessarily with another indicating it was ready to use military force if necessary.
She added: “Hopefully the next administration, you know, regardless if it’s Trump or Biden, will combine these approaches and do both well, which is what we need to prevent conflict.”