U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, talked about the destabilizing military actions China has been engaging in recently near Taiwan.
Austin reiterated America’s support for the Island nation while noting that the U.S. still accepts the One-China policy. This approach recognizes Beijing and its concerns but still allows for informal relations and defense coordination with Taiwan. This legal fiction allows the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to save face, while the U.S. arms and coordinates with what it views as its enemy.
Col. Wu Qian, A Chinese Defense Spokesman, came out publicly in response to reiterate that any move by Taiwan toward independence would be thwarted by any means necessary, including war.
The CCP has been taking military actions consistent with this message. Two weeks ago, China sent 30 planes into the Taiwan defense zone. They have been deploying autonomous drone ships in the region and holding large-scale military exercises that simulate an invasion. The CCP is doing everything short of an actual invasion itself.
The United States and Taiwan both are signatories of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. It does not require that the U.S. step in with force if Taiwan is attacked, but it does provide for providing material, arms, medical aid, and money aid much like the current support packages for Ukraine.
Many observers believe that it is not a question of if China is going to invade Taiwan, but when an invasion will take place. The CCP has most certainly been watching what is happening in Ukraine, where an inferior force armed with modern weapons can inflict large casualties. There is also the added complexity that any action by China would have to be an island invasion.
China repeatedly has said that it will fight to the end for the island province. Surprisingly, recent polling suggests more Americans support militarily defending Taiwan than they do doing the same for Ukraine. These numbers may change as the economy continues to crater, but for now, Austin’s intimation that the US will go to bat for Taiwan doesn’t seem to be an idle threat.
Given all the factors in play, expect the CCP saber-rattling to continue.