Three French-built Mirage 2000 fighter jets taxi onto a runway in front of the hangar at Hsinchu Air Base on August 5, 2022. China conducted its largest-ever military exercise, besieging Taiwan, despite condemnation from the United States, Japan and the European Union. ,
Sam Yeh | AFP | Getty Images
Last time Tension escalates between Beijing and Washington Over Taiwan, the US Navy sent warships through the Taiwan Strait and there was nothing China could do about it.
those days are gone.
“It’s a very different situation now,” said Michelle Florony, a former under-secretary for policy in the Obama administration. “It’s a much more confrontational and more lethal environment for our forces.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping, unlike his predecessors, now has serious military prowess, including ship-killing missiles, a vast navy and an increasingly capable air force. Former officials and experts say the new military is changing the strategic calculations for the US and Taiwan, increasing potential risks of conflict or miscalculations.
During the 1995–96 crisis, in an echo of current tensions, China conducted live-fire military exercises, issued stern warnings to Taipei and launched missiles into waters near Taiwan.
But the US military responded with the largest force since the Vietnam War, sending a series of warships into the area, including two aircraft carrier groups. The carrier Nimitz and other warships sailed through the narrow waterway separating China and Taiwan, driving home the idea of US military dominance.
Then-Secretary of Defense William Perry said, “Beijing should know that the strongest military power in the Western Pacific is the United States.”
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was at the time a low-tech, slow-moving force that was no match for the US military, with a weak navy and air force that could not travel far from China’s coastline. The former and current U.S. officials said.
Matthew Kronig, who served as an intelligence and defense officer at Bush, Obama, and Trump, said, “They realized they were vulnerable, that Americans could send aircraft carriers in their face, and that they could do anything about it.” couldn’t.” Administration
The Chinese, astonished by the high-tech performance of the US military in the first Gulf War, “went to school on the American way of warfare” and began a concerted effort to invest in their military and – above all – to strengthen their position. Taiwan Strait, Kronig said.
Beijing learned many lessons from the 1995–96 crisis, concluding that it needed satellite surveillance and other intelligence to find adversaries on the horizon, and a “blue water” in the western Pacific, according to the Navy and Air Force. Able to sail and fly. David Finkelstein, Director of China and Indo-Pacific Security Affairs at CNA, an independent research institute.
“The PLA Navy has made remarkable progress since 1995 and 1996. It is truly amazing how quickly the PLA Navy has built itself up. And certainly in ’95-96, the PLA Air Force has almost never been under water. Didn’t fly up,” Finkelstein said. , a retired US Army officer.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described China’s Dramatic Rise as a Military Power As a strategic earthquake.
“We are seeing, in my view, one of the biggest changes in global geo-strategic power that the world has seen,” Milley said last year.
“The Chinese military is now “very formidable in and around Taiwan in particular, and especially in home waters,” said James Stavridis, a retired four-star admiral and former NATO commander.
He said that China’s navy now has more ships than America. Stavaridis, an analyst with NBC News, said that although US naval ships are larger and more advanced, with more experienced crews and commanders, “quantity has its own quality.”
Experts say China is currently building amphibious ships and helicopters to launch a possible full-scale invasion of Taiwan, although whether the PLA is capable of such a feat is debatable.
During the 1995-96 crisis, China lost contact with one of its missiles, and became determined to distance itself from the US-linked Global Positioning System, Matthews said. funiolA China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. “It made them think ‘we can’t trust other countries’ technology,'” he said.
US and Taiwanese officials now have to take into account a more lethal and agile Chinese military that could deny the US the ability to deploy warships or aircraft without penalty, and even in the region. To operate safely from bases, Funaiol and other experts said. ,
“The game has changed in terms of how much the deck is stacked for the US. It is much more than a similar game. Whatever the US does, China has options,” Fanaiol said.
House Speaker angry at Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan This week, China began large-scale, live-fire military exercises, including ballistic missile launches, surpassing those conducted in the 1995-96 standoff. The exercises are located in the waters surrounding Taiwan to the north, east and south of Taiwan, with some exercises within approximately 10 miles of Taiwan’s coast. Experts said China once lacked the capacity to conduct a major exercise east of Taiwan.
According to officials in Taipei, China on Thursday fired at least 11 ballistic missiles near Taiwan, one of which was flying over the island. Japan said five missiles landed in its economic exclusion zone, near an island south of Okinawa.
This time, US government No announcement has been made about the advance of the warships through the Strait of Taiwan. “Biden could have tried to do that, but China could have put him at the bottom of the strait. It’s something they couldn’t do in 1995,” Kronig said.
The White House said on Thursday that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier will remain in the area as China conducts its exercises around Taiwan to “monitor the situation”. But National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the previously scheduled ICBM test had been postponed to avoid any misunderstandings.
Former US officials and experts said that despite strong rhetoric and rising tensions between the two powers, China does not want to start a war on Pelosi’s visit and is trying to show strength, not an invasion of Taiwan.
For now, Chinese President Xi is focused on staving off his country’s sluggish economy and securing an unprecedented third term at the next Communist Party Congress later this year. But China’s newly found military could signal overconfidence in Beijing’s decision-making or lead to a cycle of escalation in which each side feels compelled to respond to show resolve, former officials said.
There is a risk that Xi may undermine America’s resolve, and he believes there may be an opportunity to seize or blockade Taiwan over the next few years before US investments in new weapons will shift the military balance. The window is there, said Florenoy, who is now the center’s president. For a new American security think tank.
“I worry about China miscalculating because the narrative in Beijing is one of America’s downfalls, that America is turning inward,” Florenoy said. “It is very dangerous, if you underestimate your potential adversary.”
To prevent such an outcome, Florenoy argues that both Taiwan and the US need to strengthen their military forces to deter Beijing and increase the potential cost of any possible invasion or intervention against Taiwan.
Finkelstein said he is concerned about the “action-response” chain of events that no one can contend with, and the risk of miscalculations in Beijing, Taipei and Washington “going to the skies.”
He said that in order to rein in the tension, the US and China need to have in-depth talks to reduce the temperature. “We need to constantly talk to each other.”