1006: Intrusion into Taiwan’s Airspace to Be Deemed “First Strike”; “ICAO for Taiwan” Bill Introduced

Chinese Intrusion into Taiwan’s Airspace to Be Deemed “First Strike” Against Taiwan

The flying of Chinese PLA aircraft into Taiwan’s territorial airspace will be regarded as a “first strike” against the country, Taiwan’s Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng said, noting that the definition of invasion is not just limited to artillery attacks.

“Taiwan’s military has its red line when it comes to national defense,” Chiu said at a hearing of the Legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee on October 5, stressing that Taiwan’s military will definitely launch “countermeasures” once the “red line” is crossed.

Asked whether the “first strike” definition would extend to any kind of Chinese aircraft, the minister said “yes,” without elaborating what the “countermeasures” would be.

“In the past, we said we will not be the first to strike, which meant we will not strike without them firing artillery shells or missiles, et cetera, first,” Chiu said. “But now the definition has obviously changed, as China has been using new equipment such as drones. So, we have adjusted and will view any crossing of aircraft or vessels as a first strike,” he added.

A nation’s territorial airspace is the airspace above its territorial land and territorial waters, which extend up to 12 nautical miles (about 22km; 14 miles) from its coastline.

After U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on August 2 to 3, China held live-fire drills around Taiwan in the following week, during which it fired 11 ballistic missiles, several of which were later revealed to have flown over Taiwan.

The Chinese military exercises show that Beijing seeks to unilaterally change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait, Chiu said, citing frequent incursions by Chinese warplanes across the “median line” of the strait between Taiwan and China.

Chiu said the “median line” of the Taiwan Strait had been an invisible border line as part of a tacit understanding between Taiwan and China until it was “broken” by Beijing, and it would be difficult to return to the previous situation.

“What has not changed are the ‘patrol zones’ and ‘training zones’ which [Taiwan’s] military has demarcated on the eastern side of the median line,” which Taiwan’s military will never retreat from, Chiu stressed.

Before attending the legislative hearing, the defense minister was asked by reporters about the remarks by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) head that Chinese President Xi Jinping has set a deadline for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to have the capability to annex Taiwan by 2027.

In a CBS News interview, CIA Director William Burns said Xi “[has] instructed his military … to be prepared no later than 2027 to conduct a successful invasion of Taiwan.” Burns added that “the further you get into this decade, the greater the risks rise of a potential conflict.”

In response, Chiu said there were “no timelines” for Taiwan’s military when it comes to defending the nation. Taiwan’s military does not take into account whether a war could break out in this decade or specifically in 2027, as it was always standing by for a potential conflict, he added.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202210050018
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/10/06/2003786551

Sens. Cruz and Merkley Introduce “ICAO for Taiwan” Bill

On September 29, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a bipartisan bill, dubbed the “Ensuring Taiwan Aviation and Safety Act of 2022” (S.5053), that seeks to facilitate Taiwan’s efforts to take part in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The bill mandates that the U.S. secretary of state regularly submit “an unclassified report” to Congress to detail the U.S. government’s efforts and plans to “ensure Taiwan’s meaningful participation in ICAO, including in ICAO triennial assembly sessions, conferences, technical working groups, meetings, activities, and mechanisms.”

Under the bill, the U.S. secretary of state is authorized to develop a strategy to secure Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the ICAO and instruct the U.S. envoy to the United Nations’ specialized agency to use his or her “voice and vote” to achieve that goal.

The U.S. envoy should also “seek to secure a vote at the next ICAO triennial assembly session on the question of Taiwan’s participation in that session,” the bill says.

The 41st edition of the ICAO triennial assembly is being held from September 27 to October 7 at the agency’s Montreal headquarters in Canada, to which Taiwan is not invited.

In a press release, Sen. Cruz said the ICAO cannot successfully pursue its mission to ensure aviation safety while excluding Taiwan.

“This exclusion, and the fact that it is the result of bowing to political pressure from the Chinese Communist Party, directly endangers ICAO’s credibility as a multilateral organization,” Cruz said.

Sen. Merkley, meanwhile, pointed out that Taiwan is home to the fifth largest airport in Asia and plays a major role in global aviation.

“Taiwan’s meaningful participation in ICAO will enable the organization to do its job better,” Merkley said. “The United States should use its voice and vote to support Taiwan’s inclusion in ICAO.”

In response, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that China’s recent “acts of military provocations” in the seas and airspace around Taiwan had “gravely affected international air traffic.”

MOFA stressed the necessity for Taiwan to be included in the ICAO to ensure the safety of global civil aviation operations while calling on the U.N. agency to allow for Taiwan’s participation.

(Read the bill text HERE)

[1] Sen. Ted Cruz’s Office: https://www.cruz.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sens-cruz-merkley-introduce-bipartisan-bill-for-integrating-taiwan-in-global-aviation-forum
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202209300005
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/10/01/2003786226