Tensions Rise in Taiwan Strait as China Acts to Expand Military Operations | China

Chinese President Xi Jinping has signed legal orders authorizing a trial of military operations across China’s borders amid heightened tensions over Chinese Foreign Ministry claims that the Taiwan Strait is territorial waters Chinese.

Official state media reports published this week were scant in detail, but said Xi had signed restraining orders announcing the outline of the “military operations other than war” trial. He said the trials would begin on Wednesday.

A subsequent report by the Global Times, a state-backed nationalist tabloid, said the unpublished outline would provide a legal basis for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “safeguard national sovereignty, security and China’s development interests”. They would also authorize military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping, he said.

The legal changes would allow troops “to prevent the spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transportation routes for strategic materials like oil, or protect Chinese investments, projects and personnel.” overseas,” the report said.

Some analysts said the move appeared to mimic Vladimir Putin’s labeling of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation”.

The Russian invasion has raised fears in Taiwan, which Beijing considers a Chinese province that it does not rule out “reunifying” by force. Taiwan – officially the Republic of China (Taiwan) – maintains that it is a sovereign state.

Chen Ou-po, a member of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said he hoped China would not use the new laws to “act indiscriminately and invade other countries”.

Indo-Pacific defense policy expert Blake Herzinger said he was inclined to view the development as a maturing of the armed forces rather than something “particularly worrisome”.

“Creating the political foundations for a stronger PLA participation in China’s foreign policy could affect the new foundations that some have indicated (Cambodia, Solomon, etc.), but the PLA already has a permanent presence abroad under a basic agreement”, he said on Twitter. “I’m more inclined to think of this in terms of stability operations or other activities associated with Chinese investments and citizens in Pakistan and elsewhere.”

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles told the media that China was seeking to “shape the world around it like never before”.

“Our national interest lies in affirming the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight in international waters, in places like the South China Sea,” he said. -he declares.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials asserted a Chinese claim to the Taiwan Strait, the body of water separating China from the main island of Taiwan. In recent years, foreign nations have sailed warships through the strait in freedom of navigation exercises, angering Beijing.

Most countries have formal diplomatic relations with China and not with Taiwan, but Taiwan has key defensive agreements with the United States and broad support from other governments around the world.

On Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China had “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait”, accusing other countries that called the Strait’s international waters of making false declarations “in order to find a pretext to manipulate the problems”. related to Taiwan and threatening China’s sovereignty and security”.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told Reuters the strait was an international waterway with high seas freedoms guaranteed by international law. He reiterated US concerns about China’s “aggressive rhetoric and coercive activity regarding Taiwan” and said the United States would “continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits. , and that includes transit through the Taiwan Strait”.

Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou called China’s position a “sophism” and said the US freedom of navigation drills had Taiwan’s backing.

Tong Zhao, senior fellow at the Beijing-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said China’s recent activities have raised concerns about its preparations to exert control over Taiwan or limit other parties’ freedom of movement, but he was “too early to draw hasty conclusions”.

Zhao said, “China’s decision to challenge the United States now indicates a stronger Chinese determination to defend and promote its views on the Taiwan issue, even if it could lead to heightened tensions with the United States. United.

Steve Tsang of the Soas Institute said the change in language reflected the increasingly China-centric approach to how Xi’s government thought and acted. “It’s not good for peace and security in the region or the world,” Tsang said.

“Little may change in practice, which means that foreign warships sailing in these international waters will be monitored but not hindered. But it can also lead to a more aggressive approach with Chinese warships or aircraft trying to warn foreign warships, unless the latter have obtained prior permission from Chinese authorities – which would not happen. almost certainly not.

Additional reporting by Chi Hui Lin

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Post expires at 7:31pm on Monday June 27th, 2022