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  • Annexing Taiwan is the number one task for the People's

  • Liberation Army.

  • The US position on Taiwan seems to me

  • to be ambiguous in a way that's helped

  • keep the peace for decades.

  • Taiwan's military is no match for China's.

  • China says it will fight rather than allow

  • Taiwan to become independent.

  • China is rising to superpower status.

  • And as it does so it's showing more and more attention

  • towards reclaiming territory that it has long

  • regarded as its own.

  • This can be seen in the South China Sea, the East China

  • Sea, and along its Himalayan border with India.

  • The tensions in all these areas are increasing the focus

  • on Taiwan, a self-governing island of 22m people

  • that Beijing regards as its sacred territory.

  • China says it will fight rather than allow

  • Taiwan to become independent.

  • Recently, it's increased its military exercises near Taiwan.

  • And unusually, some official Chinese newspapers

  • have been mentioning Taiwan in the context of the Korean war,

  • which China says it was drawn into against its will

  • in the 1950s.

  • Worryingly, some commentators appear

  • to prepare a similar argument about the present situation.

  • We're seeing disinformation being spread about alleged

  • provocative moves by the US and Taiwan,

  • which hawkish Chinese commentators then

  • seize upon to call for military action against Taiwan.

  • China's armed forces and government

  • have also started describing military drills close to Taiwan

  • as necessary to protect national sovereignty.

  • They allege that the US is upending stability

  • and that Beijing has no choice but to defend its interests.

  • So Kathrin, what's the feeling at the moment in Taiwan about

  • the recent manoeuvres by China's People's Liberation Army

  • in the waters around Taiwan?

  • Taiwan really has been rattled this time around.

  • Of course, summer, especially July and August,

  • is the traditional season for military exercises

  • also around here.

  • And Chinese military capabilities

  • have been growing rapidly.

  • Of course the armed forces would want

  • to master this new equipment and train on it.

  • Also, annexing Taiwan is the number one task

  • for the People's Liberation Army.

  • And therefore, it's not surprising

  • that we are seeing operations around here.

  • What is surprising however, or what is abnormal actually,

  • is that China is abandoning, or appears to be abandoning,

  • the practises that kept the peace in the Taiwan Strait

  • for decades.

  • And the political language out of Beijing

  • is getting harsher and harsher.

  • By and large, Beijing and Taipei both respected the Taiwan

  • Strait Median Line.

  • This line is an unofficial dividing line

  • proposed by the US more than 60 years ago.

  • In March last year Beijing violated that line

  • for the first time in 20 years.

  • And since then the PLA air force has crossed it

  • at least five more times.

  • Earlier this year Chinese forces did even a night-time exercise

  • right on the edge of that median line for the first time.

  • And more recently, in September, the PLA held a two-day large

  • scale manoeuvre on Taiwan's side of the strait.

  • This kind of activity is called grey zone operations.

  • They don't constitute a breach of international law.

  • They are not an act of war.

  • But they instigate fear in Taiwan society

  • because they remind the country that this standing threat

  • China has had to invade if Taiwan doesn't toe the line,

  • that this threat might actually be real.

  • Of course, the tensions in this arena

  • are not limited to Taiwan and China alone.

  • The other big player is the United States.

  • And the US position on Taiwan seems to me

  • to be ambiguous in a way that's helped

  • keep the peace for decades.

  • On the one hand, it doesn't recognise Taiwan as a country.

  • But on the other hand, it does supply weapons

  • for Taiwan's defence that help Taiwan maintain its de facto

  • status as an independent state.

  • But it now looks to me, Kathrin, as

  • if this so-called strategic ambiguity is fraying a bit.

  • If we look back, the beauty of this ambiguous policy

  • was that it long worked to deter China from aggression

  • because China couldn't be sure what Washington would

  • do in case it attacked Taiwan.

  • And the policy, on the other hand,

  • worked to discourage Taiwan from political moves that

  • could have raised tensions, for example to officially declare

  • the independence it, in fact, already has.

  • Now there's a growing debate in Washington

  • over whether the deterrence bit of this equation still works.

  • The People's Liberation Army has, in some respects,

  • become a peer for the US military, at least

  • in Asia and the Western Pacific.

  • So some US lawmakers, military experts,

  • and some China hawks are calling for Washington to make its

  • commitment to Taiwan's defence more explicit.

  • At the end of August, Washington declassified a set

  • of documents that contain assurances

  • to Taipei that its security support would continue.

  • The US also publicly stated that it does not take a position

  • on sovereignty over Taiwan.

  • And it said that certain of its agreements with Beijing

  • were premised on China taking a peaceful approach to Taiwan.

  • That move, for some China hawks and Taiwan

  • supporters in Washington, has worked like a dog whistle.

  • They believe that in the light of China's more aggressive

  • stance, all bets are off and the US could move much further.

  • The other factor in all of this is

  • the changing view within China of China's place in the world

  • and the growing influence of the People's Liberation Army

  • on Chinese politics.

  • This has been a long-run thing.

  • But certainly, since Xi Jinping took over in 2012,

  • Beijing's growing assertiveness has been very clear.

  • According to President Xi, China has, in the last 70 years

  • since the communist revolution, managed

  • to stand up, get rich, and become strong.

  • And now, he says, it's time for China to take its place

  • at the centre of world affairs.

  • There is now a realistic debate about whether China

  • could actually win a war over Taiwan, something that had long

  • been considered impossible.

  • I think the single most important reason for this

  • change is the immense progress the PLA has made in modernising

  • itself.

  • If you look back, China increased defence spending

  • by double digits for more than 20 years straight.

  • And although that rate of growth has now slowed down,

  • Beijing keeps outspending Taipei on the military

  • by a factor of 15.

  • So at first sight Taiwan's military is no match

  • for China's.

  • At the same time, China acquired a large arsenal

  • of intermediate range missiles with which it

  • can hit US aircraft carriers and US military bases

  • in the region, from Japan all the way to Guam,

  • the US territory in the Western Pacific.

  • Therefore, Taiwan under growing pressure from the US,

  • has pledged to adopt an asymmetric way of fighting.

  • It would use many cheap, mobile, distributed weapons

  • to make it as difficult and costly for the PLA as possible

  • to take out its defences.

  • With that strategy it could take advantage

  • of Taiwan's geography.

  • Two-thirds of the island are mountainous.

  • And large stretches of its coast are

  • unsuitable for bringing an army ashore.

  • They are either sheer cliffs or mud flats.

  • Given that there are only a handful of beaches where

  • an amphibious landing is possible,

  • it would probably need to rely on other ways.

  • One example would be trying to take out Taiwan's air defences

  • first and then grabbing a port or air

  • dropping special forces in.

  • If Beijing wanted to invade Taiwan

  • it has been estimated that it would need up

  • to one million soldiers.

  • And even after enough soldiers had come ashore,

  • they would face a formidable fight to control all of Taiwan

  • and keep it under control.

  • Judging from how challenging that is,

  • some defence experts believe that China has a different

  • playbook - coercion.

  • Instead of a full-scale invasion the PLA

  • could keep raising military threats and pressure on Taiwan,

  • maybe seize an offshore island just to make its case

  • and prove that it can, or conduct cyber attacks

  • and add on an embargo on maritime trade

  • until public morale is so shaken and so weakened

  • that the government in Taipei would agree to negotiate.

  • So the short answer is that we don't

  • know what is going to happen.

  • The PLA is a formidable threat.

  • But on the other hand, they may not be there quite yet.

Annexing Taiwan is the number one task for the People's

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B1 中級 美國腔

中美会不会对台湾发动战争?(Will China and the US go to war over Taiwan? | FT)

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 05 月 16 日
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