China Ramps Up Military Presence, Threatening Taiwan
China and Russia conducted a joint military exercise on Tuesday, flying strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China sea. While the two countries have conducted similar exercises in the past, nonetheless this marks a crucial event as “this is the most significant form of cooperation by their militaries” since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine according to a senior official in the Biden administration.
This exercise has transpired within a pattern of recent Chinese military activity. The Chinese military flew 14 aircraft in Taiwan’s air defense zone last week, and on Wednesday issued a “solemn warning to the recent collusion between the United States and Taiwan,” announcing the organization of naval and air combat drills around Taiwan.
Biden Commits to Protecting Taiwan from Chinese Invasion
These events come amidst recent remarks by President Biden during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday, in which he established the United States’ “commitment” of military involvement to defend Taiwan, an important economic partner, if necessary.
Since the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the United States has maintained a policy known as “strategic ambiguity,” under which the U.S. has deliberately refused to offer a definitive approach to be taken in response to a potential attack on Taiwan. However, Biden has made similar remarks in the past.
Biden also remarked during the press conference, in reference to a Chinese attack on Taiwan, that his “expectation is that it will not happen.” Despite this, the recent activities and aggressive views towards Taiwan of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, have left American officials watchful for additional militaristic conflict.
American Lawmakers Unite To Protect Taiwan
American lawmakers across the political aisle have supported Biden’s statements and have advocated for a shift in Taiwan policy to protect the democratic nation and American partner. While members of Congress generally are wary of U.S. military involvement in Taiwan, Democrats and Republicans alike support boosting Taiwan’s defensive capabilities.
American support for improving Taiwan’s defense capabilities is not a new phenomenon. A $95 million deal was made earlier this year to support the Taiwanese Patriot Air Defense System. Recently, the Biden administration has encouraged Taiwan to purchase American-made weapons to enact a strategy of asymmetric warfare, which entails the use of mobile and precision attacks, allowing for the smaller island nation to overcome the larger enemy, China.
Many American and Taiwanese officials and lawmakers believe increased attention is needed due to the potential of an abrupt attack by China’s authoritarian leader, similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. The United States is not “clear about what deters China and what provokes China,” Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall fund of the United States, said in a recent statement. “We need to think long and hard on how to strengthen deterrence.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) expressed, “the president is taking a lesson from Ukraine that a stronger initial position could be necessary for deterrence,” adding “the bullies of the world need to know we’re going to take a stand. And if they don’t hear that message with clarity, they may mistake it for weakness.”