PLA drills around Taiwan shatter the spirit and guts of 'Taiwan independence' forces
Published: Apr 08, 2023 06:37 PM
Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

China's military exercises in the Taiwan Straits are not a "blast fishing" exercise but a blast to the heart and guts of Taiwan secessionists aiming to correct the US and Taiwan's expectations for the situation in the Straits.

On Saturday, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command announced that it would hold drills in the Taiwan Straits, as well as in the sea and air regions to the north, south, and east of the island of Taiwan, running from April 8 to 10. Even after Friday, when the mainland announced sanctions against two US organizations and Hsiao Bi-khim, the island of Taiwan's representative in the US, some forces in the US and Taiwan were still secretly hoping that the Chinese mainland might not hold military exercises this time.

Both the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities and their US masters are most afraid of the mainland's military response. And they are most concerned with the Chinese mainland's position of not renouncing the use of force to stop "Taiwan independence" and achieving national reunification, although the mainland has always maintained that it is committed to peaceful reunification. With the rapid rise of the mainland's military power and comprehensive strength, as well as the intensification of US-Taiwan collusion, the DPP authorities and the US are particularly worried that the mainland's military punishment will eventually occur because they tread over the bottom line. Some US officials keep warning that "the Chinese mainland may attack Taiwan before 2027." They have a guilty conscience, so they are afraid of provoking a war.

While Taiwan authorities under Tsai Ing-wen are enhancing their collusion with the US to seek protection and support, they are also becoming increasingly scared. The DPP authorities are now putting much effort into strengthening Taiwan's self-defense. Meanwhile, the US has increased arms sales and military aid to the island of Taiwan, shaping it into a "porcupine" capable of self-defense. But Taiwan authorities are beginning to have a sense of self-control over "provoking the mainland" further.

Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

The US and Taiwan changed their plan for Tsai to meet with new US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the US into a meeting with him during Tsai's "transit" in the US. They believe that this would "downgrade" the provocation, and thus, the mainland's response will be smaller than the scale of the PLA's countermeasures during Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan last year.

The overall goal of the DPP authorities is to maintain the "status quo" that Taiwan will not be reunified and remain a self-proclaimed "nation." Even though this will not be recognized internationally, the island hopes to expand the political content of international interactions through "playing edge ball" and "salami slicing," gradually gain more protection commitments and practical support from the US, and create a slow but stable dynamic of "peaceful secession" as opposed to peaceful reunification.

However, the mainland's overall control over the Straits and its strategic initiative in shaping the future is increasing comprehensively, and the DPP authorities are unlikely to achieve their goals. The powerful military exercises orchestrated by the PLA around the island after Pelosi's Taiwan visit were a showdown-style warning, particularly to the US and Taiwan. It has also sent shockwaves through Taiwan authorities under Tsai; hence this time, they chose to "downgrade" her meeting with McCarthy in terms of the location.

The PLA is conducting military exercises simultaneously in all directions around the island of Taiwan. Although the US and Taiwan believe that the scale of the exercises is in line with their expectations after their "downgrading of the level of provocation," they still received a strong signal that if their collusion continues to step beyond the red line, and if Taiwan secessionists continue to engage in "salami slicing," then this will be a fundamental question of peace or war in the Straits and the survival of the regime on the island of Taiwan. The mainland has the power and the will to solve the Taiwan question once and for all through the use of force when the secessionist forces collide head-on with China's Anti-Secession Law. That is why every live-fire artillery in the Taiwan Straits these days will be a wake-up call that makes the Taiwan authorities tremble.

The author is a commentator with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn