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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Cooperating to limit China

Cooperating to limit China

Amid the global turbulence of the Israel-Palestine conflict and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US on Friday released a report showing that China increased warplane incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone by 79 percent from last year, indicating that Beijing might create unrest in the Asia-Pacific region.

The US Department of Defense’s annual report on China’s military prowess warned that Chinese warplane incursions into Taiwan’s defense zone last year rose to 1,737 from 972 in 2021.

China has for a long time used military and political pressure to pursue its goal of taking over Taiwan. Its hegemonic expansionism has become even more worrying with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the past two years taking more aggressive action in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions against foreign aircraft and vessels as it seeks regional dominance.

The Pentagon on Tuesday last week released a rare report with video clips showing 15 of more than 180 cases of China’s “coercive and risky operational behavior” against US aircraft in the East China and South China seas since 2021, much more in the past two years than in the decade before that.

Its aggressive tactics increase to 300 cases if US allies are included, such as an incident in the South China Sea on Monday last week in which a Chinese fighter jet cut off a Canadian patrol plane and dropped flares in its path, while another Chinese fighter flew within 5m of it.

On Sunday, a Chinese Coast Guard ship and an accompanying vessel rammed a Philippine Coast Guard ship and a military-run supply boat in the South China Sea, which was more risky behavior that contravened international law.

Japanese Ministry of Defense data show that Japanese fighter jets were scrambled 778 times from April last year to March this year, with the majority of the missions having to deal with threats from Chinese aircraft and the rest to counter aggressive activities from Russia.

The wars in Ukraine and Gaza have raised concern that China might use the opportunity to take action against Taiwan.

However, given that China’s aggressive behavior has targeted several countries, concern about its ambitions should be extended.

If the Chinese military causes a major incident — even accidentally — it might spark a military conflict in the region, which has a long history of territorial and sovereignty disputes.

Taiwan has remained alert and calmly monitored the situation to reduce the risk of conflict across the Taiwan Strait. At the same time, it must enhance its surveillance and defense capabilities, as Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) has vowed to do.

Taiwan has also consistently expressed willingness to cooperate with international partners to maintain stability in the region.

Events in Ukraine and the Middle East might embolden China as it oppresses its neighbors and intensifies its international activities. It might hope that the US’ commitments to Israel and Ukraine would leave it unable to support its allies in Asia.

While US President Joe Biden has announced plans to seek US$100 billion in emergency funding, with portions to go to Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific region, and the American Institute in Taiwan has assured that support for Taiwan remained a “priority” for Washington, democratic states in Asia should be cognizant of the escalating Chinese threat and forge stronger ties to deter its provocations. If Asian democracies share responsibility, they can help ensure regional peace.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2023/10/25

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