United Sword maneuvers.. Do you herald a confrontation between China and Taiwan?

BEIJING – Dozens of planes and warships of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Chinese National Army) continue to conduct military exercises, which began yesterday, Saturday, and will last for 3 days, in the vicinity of the island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers its territory, and seeks to re-annex it to the Chinese mainland.

On the other hand, Taiwan's Ministry of Defense said it is monitoring the situation and will make an appropriate response to defend the security of the island.

And according to the eastern field – which is one of the 5 Chinese military fields – the military maneuvers that he called "United Sword" with the aim of "combat readiness" send a "severe warning" to those he called the Taiwanese separatists because of their "collusion with external forces."

The maneuvers began a day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited the United States and met with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said – in a statement – that China is using Tsai's visit to the United States "as a pretext to conduct military exercises, which have seriously damaged peace, stability and security in the region."

The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a tweet saying, "The people of Taiwan will never bow to the provocations of the People's Republic of China … We will not stop making friends, and our friends will not stop supporting us."

Strait tensions

The Fujian Maritime Safety Administration (a coastal province of China located on the Taiwan Strait in southeastern China) announced on its Twitter-like Weibo page that it will start a 3-day "special joint patrol and inspection operation" in the central and southern parts of the country. Taiwan Strait, with the participation of the Chinese Coast Guard ship "Haixun 06".

This prompted the Taiwan Maritime and Port Bureau to denounce China's announcement, and said in a statement that it had informed ship crews of the need to reject Chinese requests to inspect ships, and to notify the Taiwan Coast Guard Department of protection and address the matter.

Joseph Wu, deputy director of the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, believes that the escalation of tensions in the strait may attract many countries into conflict, describing the region as the most dangerous flashpoint in the entire world. He told "FRONTLINE" magazine that the Taiwan Strait is a very important maritime communication channel that cannot be closed, and that this will prompt many countries, especially the United States and Japan, to engage in hostilities.

Taiwan Air Force F-16 aircraft flying over Hualien
Taiwanese warplanes are on alert for any Chinese move (Reuters)

mutual arming

China accuses the United States of not abiding by its own commitments to reduce arms sales to Taiwan, and Beijing continues to strengthen the defense measures it takes in the mainland opposite Taiwan, on grounds of national security and territorial protection.

But Taiwan sees these defensive measures as a threat to its security, and continues attempts to build an advanced military arsenal.

The Taiwanese newspaper, Liberty Times, quoted a military source as saying that Taipei last year continued its attempts to persuade the United States to adjust arms shipments, hoping to obtain more than half of the Harpoon missiles purchased within 3 years and the remaining missiles before the end of 2029.

The military source explained that the seriousness of the security situation made it imperative for Taiwan to obtain more anti-ship missiles in a shorter period of time in order to effectively confront the Chinese army.

Ting Hong, an expert in military affairs, believes that China's threat to use force to reunify Taiwan aims to support a peaceful solution, and pressure towards a concession from the Taiwanese side to avoid conflict. But he added to Al-Jazeera Net that the Taiwan authorities' adherence to independence will push the Chinese side to take decisive steps to settle the issue once and for all.

reunification scenarios

Chinese President Xi Jinping's statement to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Beijing that "anyone who thinks China will make concessions on Taiwan is delusional" gives an idea about the future of the self-ruled island after its failure to reunify with the rest of China since the end of the civil war. Chinese in 1949.

The Hartford's Global Specialty Insights Center presents 3 possible scenarios for how to reunify China with Taiwan:

  • Direct invasion: In this scenario, ground forces could land in Taiwan, removing the government. If the United States and others move to defend Taiwan, the fight could drag on and lead to collateral damage.
  • Naval blockade: The exercises after Nancy Pelosi's visit highlighted the possibility of China encircling Taiwan and preventing trade, and this may also affect the movement of other goods transiting the Taiwan Strait, and it is possible that concerns about the blockade have led the United States to finally deploy its own naval vessels in the strait.
  • Changing Taiwanese politics: China can encourage political change on the island by enacting new laws in China that affect the island, and help bring about political change similar to what it did in Hong Kong, and this scenario may help ease possible sanctions from the United States and others.

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