What Motivated Chinese Military Drills Near The Taiwan Strait? – Analysis

Eurasia Review
Date: September 16, 2020
By: Jack Kai Yui Wong*

The People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) replenishment ship Qiandaohu departs for the at-sea portion of Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2014. Photo Credit: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John Sorensen

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan continues to reject Beijing’s sovereignty claims as well as the offer of “one country, two systems.” In response, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the possibility of Taiwanese independence a “dead-end.”

Verbal hostility from Beijing towards Taiwan is not unusual. However, in July and August this year, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched various military drills, a lot of which took place near the Taiwan Strait. The PLA drills occurred between mid-July and mid-August near the Taiwan Strait. It included live-fire maritime target attack drills, a beach assault in Hainan Province, and coordinatedcommand and sea-crossing assault drills off Fujian Province. This commentary evaluates the possible intentions behind those provocations.

Diplomatic Outreach

Two broad motivations can be discerned. First, China wants to deter Taiwan from formally establishing more diplomatic relationships as well as strengthening its combat readiness. Second, China hopes to deter the US from conducting any freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) near the Chinese coast.

Taiwan has achieved some diplomatic breakthroughs in the past two months. On 1 July, it established a formal diplomatic relationship with the self-claimed East African state, Somaliland. Somaliland has hitherto lacked any international recognition, while Taiwan only has official diplomatic relations with 15 countries. This unconventional bonding met with firm opposition from China.    [FULL  STORY]

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