China ‘blockades’ Taiwan
China has begun its biggest ever military drills in the waters around Taiwan. And at 20km off the island’s coast, Chinese forces are also the closest they’ve ever been for this kind of exercise, using real weapons and live ammunition. Taiwan says it’s not a drill at all – it’s a blockade and that China is deliberately stopping ships and planes from using the space. Tensions have been high in that part of the world for more than a year – and the latest flashpoint comes after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit this week.
BACK IT UP A BIT…
China sees self-ruled Taiwan – which lies 160km from the mainland – as a breakaway province that will eventually be under its control. As for talking it out, that’s not possible because Beijing sees Taiwan’s government as illegitimate. And because of that estranged relationship, most countries have no official ties with Taiwan. So if you see something about the ‘One China’ policy, that’s what it’s about – not officially recognising Taiwan as an independent state because China sees it as theirs. That’s the policy of Australia, the US and many others. However, we are also sympathetic towards those being pushed around by China – including former Defence Minister/current Coalition leader Peter Dutton, who has said that Australia would join a conflict to defend Taiwan. The Albanese Government hasn’t gone that far – it’s reverted to the default position of urging peace and stability in the region.
WHERE IS THIS GOING?
Well, China is massively peed off by Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. She is the most senior US politician to go there since 1997, and it was expected there would be a response from China because she went despite their warnings, and it needs to look strong on Taiwan. For China’s part, its Foreign Minister Wang Yi said diplomatic efforts had been made to avert a crisis but that China would never allow its core interests to be hurt. The drills are expected to continue across the weekend, and if China starts operating closer and closer to Taiwan, analysts say the situation could escalate. And even if these exercises end with no consequence, we should expect more of them because China is “trying to normalise a pattern of more aggressive behaviour against Taiwan,” said Bonnie Lin, Director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Hold onto your hat…
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