On Sunday, when a US guided missile destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait, it marked the second such transit in less than two weeks. Among the clearest signals yet of Washington’s willingness to stand up for Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression.
The US has remained a decades-long ally of Taiwan following the island’s split from mainland China in the wake of a civil war, policymakers in Washington have traditionally refrained from overt displays of support.
On Tuesday, a Chinese government spokesperson called Washington’s Six Assurances “illegal and invalid”, according to the state-run Xinhua news service.
A spokesperson of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council in Beijing, Ma Xiaoguang said, “Relying on the so-called Six-Assurances by US to seek Taiwan independence will only lead to self-inflicted disasters.”
A research fellow of China defense policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Meia Nouwens said, “The US is attempting to make its assurances to Taiwan very clear at a time when it views China as destabilizing the Taiwan strait.”
A US Navy spokesperson on Wednesday pushed back on a report in the state-run Global Times late Monday, that US-marked EP-3 reconnaissance plane may have been on Taiwan over the weekend, an event Beijing would see as a direct threat to its sovereignty.
Taiwan’s air force command released a statement Monday calling the US recon plane flight allegations, fake news and completely contrary to facts.”
Western analysts say, Taiwan poses no threat to the Chinese mainland, at least in a combat sense. Even though Taipei is buying new US-made weapons like main battle tanks and F-16 fighter jets, all to be paid for with an increase in the island’s defense budget announced by President Tsai Ing-wen last week , it is not going to be sending any of that military muscle across the Taiwan Strait.
The island has come under threat since the end of the years-long Chinese civil war in 1949. The analysts say a forcible takeover of Taiwan could be a bad bet for xi either way, US help or not.
Taiwan’s defense budget is dwarfed by Beijing’s modest spending can make a big difference when you are playing defense.
The IISS analyst, said the idea that Beijing could prevail in a conflict over Taiwan is not even supported by senior mainland defense experts.
Hardware like coastal defense and surface-to-air missiles are relatively cheap outlays Beijing would have to make to field an invasion force, like large amphibious assault ships and the escorts needed to protect them from incoming missiles or torpedoes, or mines laying in wait below the surface of the sea.
When the66 F-16s Taiwan is purchasing from the US start showing up, there remains an open question whether there will be pilots to fly them.