US using Taiwan as ‘last card’ may only speed up reunification

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/29 22:28:40 Last Updated: 2020/6/30 1:24:08

PLA aircraft could fly over island if US invites Taiwan military for exercise: experts

A Chinese community in Los Angeles calls for reunification and protests Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen making a stopover in the US in August 2018. Photo: cnsphoto

As the US has been increasingly high-profile in demonstrating its illegal military cooperation with the island of Taiwan such as releasing on Monday rare footage showing joint training exercises between US and Taiwan forces on the island, on the same day, both Chinese and US military aircraft were seen in the airspace near the island of Taiwan

Chinese mainland experts noted that US President Donald Trump is probably helping the mainland speed up its reunification with Taiwan. 

Such a move of releasing rare footage on "joint military training" between US military and the island's military provides evidence that it was the US and the separatist authorities on the island that first changed the status quo and provoked the mainland; and if the mainland launches a military operation to reunify with Taiwan some day, the US and Taiwan will bear full responsibility, the experts noted.

"A promotional video featuring joint US-Taiwan military training has surfaced on social media - the first such footage to be seen, as these kinds of operations are usually deemed confidential," reported on Monday.

Posted on Facebook by the US Army's 1st Special Forces Group, the 44-second video titled "Excellence" shows soldiers from the special forces of the US Army and the island's military "training together in various scenarios including an assault on a fortified position and an evacuation via a Black Hawk helicopter."

The mission is part of the annual joint training sessions which are codenamed "Balance Tamper." An Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) team from the US Army's special forces was dispatched to Taiwan for this purpose, said the Taiwan-based media outlet. The defense authorities on the island said that it was part of "ordinary military exchanges between the two sides" and that it respected the US Army's decision to release relevant training footage.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday that in the past, these kinds of acts also took place occasionally but the US had always kept a low profile, and due to the stable cross-Straits ties in the past, the Chinese mainland also didn't voice too much over it. 

"But this time, it proves that the US might be getting increasingly nervous as it has failed to contain China through its trade war, as well as Xinjiang and Hong Kong affairs. It wants to use its last card -Taiwan." Lü said.

A military expert with a Beijing-based military academy who requested anonymity said as Taiwan defense authorities also confirmed such cooperation with the US, it's clear that the separatist authorities on the island of Taiwan "want to flaunt that the US is backing them, but they also provided us evidence that it was them who broke the status quo first, with US military forces appearing on the island." 

This could even be a crucial reason for the mainland to increase military deployments or even launch military operations against the island of Taiwan, as the US move has already seriously violated the three joint communiqué between China and the US and crossed the redline of anti-secessionism, he noted.  

Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, said that "this kind of military cooperation is meaningless to shake the overwhelming advantage that the People's Liberation Army [PLA] had in the region," and even though Taiwan is showing off its military ties with the US, when the mainland decides to reunify the island militarily, any foreign force would be helpless to defend the separatists on the island.

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force formation conducts island patrols during training on April 26, 2018. The formation was made up of fighters, early warning and surveillance aircraft, and H-6K bombers, which took off from various military airfields. The formation flew over the Miyako Strait and Bashi Channel, completing an island patrol, the subject of the training. Photo: Xinhua

Island flyover

Both Chinese and US military aircraft had been seen in the southwestern airspace of Taiwan again on Monday. Since the beginning of June, the appearances of the two countries' military aircraft are becoming extremely frequent. According to some Taiwan media outlets, US military aircraft have showed up in the airspace surrounding Taiwan for nine consecutive days and the PLA Air Force also sent fighter jets and bombers conducting at least 11 patrol missions around the island in June, according to Taiwan media reports.

Observers noted that this is very unusual in recent years, and as the US is trying more aggressively to expand or even normalize its military presence in the region, the Chinese mainland will surely increase its military presence as well to monitor them and push them out if necessary.

The risk of conflict will rise but since the US, so far, has sent only unarmed reconnaissance aircraft to enter the airspace, the possibility of crossfire in the air remained low, said Wei.

After China's top national legislature proposed national security legislation for Hong Kong in May, the Trump administration knows it has "lost another card" to provoke China and dares not to overly retaliate, so it has started to use its "last card - Taiwan," Lü noted.

But the last card is also the most dangerous one as China has drawn the bottom-line very clearly, and if the Trump administration miscalculates China and thinks using Taiwan to provoke China could be helpful for the November presidential election, the cross-Straits situation could potentially become extremely dangerous in the latter half of this year, Lü said. reported on Saturday that Taiwan's military might be invited to attend the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime exercises led by the US in August acting in the capacity of an observer.

The Senate Armed Services Committee of the US Congress proposed an invitation to Taiwan in its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act NDAA presented on June 23, said the Taiwan media report.

Lü said that "if the US just invites a few military personnel to observe the RIMPAC it would still be fine but if US warships and Taiwan vessels conducted combat military exercises, that would be a extremely serious situation, and the mainland's retaliation could be greater than the 1995-1996 Taiwan Straits crisis. PLA aircraft could fly over the island."

Observers noted that to some extent, Trump's moves on Taiwan could probably speed up the China's reunification process since if the US crossed the redline China would be able to solve the problem once and for all.


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