2023-0112: China’s Drills near Taiwan; Taiwan Strait Crisis Ranked as “Tier 1” Contingency; Changing Taiwan Status Quo by Force “Unacceptable”

Taiwan Condemns China’s Latest Drills Near Taiwan

On January 9, Taiwan condemned China for holding its second combat drills around Taiwan within a little more than two weeks, after 57 Chinese aircraft and four warships were detected near Taiwan within 24 hours from January 8 to 9.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said that 28 of the Chinese aircraft either crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait or breached the southwestern perimeter of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) from 6 a.m. on January 8 to 6 a.m. on January 9.

They included three BZK-005 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, 12 J-16 multipurpose fighters, six J-11 fighter jets, two J-10 jets, two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, and one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) plane.

It was the second round of military exercises conducted near Taiwan by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the past weeks since U.S. President Joe Biden signed the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” (FY 2023 NDAA) into law on December 23, 2022, which authorizes up to US$10 billion in grants and US$2 billion in loans for Taiwan to buy U.S. arms from 2023 to 2027.

In the first round of exercises launched on December 25, 2022, the PLA sent a total of 71 planes and seven warships to areas near Taiwan over 24 hours, with 47 aircraft either crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait or entering Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ, according to Taiwan’s MND.

The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command said on January 8 that the latest joint naval-air drills were aimed at testing China’s joint combat capability in the face of a series of “provocative actions of external forces and Taiwan independence separatist forces.”

In response, on January 9, Taiwan’s Presidential Office accused China of making “groundless accusations,” stressing Taiwan’s resolve to safeguard its sovereignty and national security. It added that both sides of the Taiwan Strait have the responsibilities to protect regional peace and stability, which is also a shared expectation of the international community.

Meanwhile, earlier on January 5, the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) conducted “routine” transit through international waters in the Taiwan Strait to show Washington’s “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the 7th Fleet under the U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202301090007
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/01/10/2003792316
[3] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202301060006

Cross-Taiwan Strait Crisis Named as “Tier 1” Contingency in U.S. Survey

A potential crisis in the Taiwan Strait involving the United States is ranked as a “Tier 1” contingency in the “Preventive Priorities Survey 2023” released by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on January 4.

“Tier 1” contingencies should be given “high priority” when Washington works to prevent potential conflicts from occurring this year, according to the U.S. think tank.

“An escalation of coercive pressure by China toward Taiwan, including heightened military activity, precipitates a severe cross-strait crisis involving the United States and other countries in the region” would have a “high” impact on U.S. interests, according to the survey.

The CFR first included a cross-Taiwan Strait crisis as a “Tier 2” (medium priority) contingency in 2019, reclassifying it as “Tier 1” (high priority) in 2021.

With the majority of Tier 1 contingencies now concerning potential flashpoints involving the superpowers, the risk of the U.S. becoming embroiled in a military confrontation with China or Russia, or both at the same time, has risen, the survey stated.

“Although no Tier 1 contingency was judged to be very likely in 2023, it is still sobering that each was given an even chance of occurring,” the CFR said.

The survey was conducted in November 2022 by asking foreign policy experts to evaluate 30 ongoing or potential “violent conflicts” based on their likelihood of occurring or escalating this year, as well as their possible impact on U.S. interests, the CFR said.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202301050006
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/01/06/2003792077

Changing Status Quo in Taiwan Strait by Force “Unacceptable”: Visiting German Lawmaker

Any attempt or threat to change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait by force is “unacceptable,” visiting German parliamentarian and Free Democratic Party (FDP) chief whip Johannes Vogel said on January 10 during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen.

Vogel, who visited Taiwan with a German parliamentarian delegation, said that while the German Bundestag supported the “One China” policy, he and his colleagues “believe that any change of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait can only be achieved by mutual agreement.”

“Any attempt to change the status quo by force, or threatening to do it by force, is unacceptable. That is the position of the international community, as laid out in the latest G7 statement, and it is our deep belief as well,” Vogel added.

He described the delegation’s visit to Taiwan as “a gesture of support and solidarity against any threatening with military aggression.”

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chairperson of the Bundestag’s defense committee, added: “We stand close together as democratic states.”

Describing the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 as a “wake-up call” for Europe and the world, Strack-Zimmermann said the delegation wished to make the case that “we want to live in peace and freedom.”

Meanwhile, President Tsai expressed hope that Taiwan, Germany and other democratic partners would “jointly maintain the regional order and prosperity” amid authoritarian expansion.

The parliamentarian delegation, led by Vogel and Strack-Zimmermann, arrived in Taiwan on January 8 for a four-day visit.

It is the third German delegation to Taiwan since October 2022, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202301100010
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/01/11/2003792378