The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen has said that the island will “not back down” amid tensions flaring between the two nations.
China had announced live-fire military drills encircling Taiwan, which was criticized by Taipei’s Defence Ministry, calling it a threat to the island’s key ports and urban areas.
According to the coordinates shared by People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the zone of Chinese operations will come within 20 kilometers of Taiwan’s shoreline at some points.
Taiwan officials appeared resolute to preserve public calm amid risks of the situation escalating beyond control.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said, “The defence ministry has closely monitored and strengthened preparations, and will respond appropriately in due time.”
The defence ministry also said that China’s military exercises breach the island’s territorial waters. Defence ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang, while addressing a press conference said, “Some of the areas of China's drills breach into (Taiwan's) territorial waters. This is an irrational move to challenge the international order.”
China has also imposed sanctions on the island nation in retaliation to Pelosi’s visit. It has curbed the import of fruit and fish from Taiwan and halted sand shipments to Taipei.
Meanwhile, talks are scheduled to be held today between Southeast Asian foreign ministers in a bid to find out ways to help calm rising tensions over Taiwan. Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh planned to discuss the crisis in Myanmar.
It may be noted that China has vowed to one day seize democratic, self-ruled Taiwan, by force if necessary, and Beijing has always kept the island isolated on the world stage and opposes countries having official exchanges with Taipei.
Moreover, Japan has expressed its concern to China over its military drills in waters around Taiwan.
Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said, “The maritime areas announced by the Chinese side as those to be used for military exercises... overlaps with Japan's exclusive economic zone. Considering the live-fire training nature of this military activity, Japan has expressed concerns to the Chinese side.”
What We Know So Far?
Amid tensions flaring, Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan yesterday in the highest-ranking visit by an American politician to the island in 25 years.
Taiwan sees itself as a democratic nation with its own constitution and democratically elected leaders.
However, President of China Xi Jingping said reunification is a must and will be done by force if needed.
Located just 100 miles off the mainland China, it is a part of ‘first-island chain’ as it is known, which includes US friendly territories crucial to its foreign policies.
According to experts, the move to unify Taiwan would be troublesome for US military bases as far as Guam and Hawaii, however, China has maintained that its intentions are purely peaceful.
Historically, Taiwan first came under Chinese occupation in the 17th century under the rule of Qing dynasty. Taiwan was handed over Japan in 1895 after China lost in the Sino-Japan war.
China again took control over Taiwan after Japan’s loss in World War II.
Then during the civil war between nationalist government forces led by Chiang Kai-shek and Communist Party of Mao Zedong. While the communists won in 1949 and took over Beijing, Chiang Kai-shek and his remnants went over and reigned on Taiwan for the next several decades.
China points to history to claim that Taiwan has always been an integral part, however, pointing to that same history, Taiwan dismiss China’s claims clarifying that they were never part of modern Chinese province.
Moreover, Taiwan is recognized as a country by only 13 nations around the world and Vatican. China has exerted pressure against recognizing Taiwan as a separate country or any action that implies recognition.
In addition, Taiwan’’s defence ministry has said that relations with China are at their worst point in 40 years.
Should push come to shove, China is vastly superior to their island neighbour in terms of military might. China’s active forces stand at a total of 2,035,000 to Taiwan’s paltry 169,000. China has 5,400 tanks, while Taiwan has only 650. Taiwan’s four submarines fall way behind China’s 59. While China has 86 naval ships, Taiwan has only 26.