U.S. Navy ships pass through strategic Taiwan Strait, riling China


February 26, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday as the U.S. military increased the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

The movement comes as U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States and China were “very, very close” to a deal to end a months-long trade war that has slowed global growth and disrupted markets.

The U.S. Navy’s passage through the Taiwan Strait also came just days before a summit between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

The two ships were identified as the destroyer Stethem and Navy cargo and ammunition ship Cesar Chavez, the statement said. The 180 km-wide (112 miles) Taiwan Strait separates Taiwan from China.

There was no immediate reaction from China, which has previously expressed its opposition to such exercises.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday the U.S. ships had already left the strait, following a northerly route.

Taiwan’s armed forces had kept watch on the sailing and noticed nothing out of the ordinary, so there was no cause for alarm, it said.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help defend the island nation and is its main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory.

Beijing’s concerns about Taiwan are likely to factor strongly into this year’s Chinese defense budget, following a stern new year’s speech from President Xi Jinping, threatening to attack Taiwan should it not accept Chinese rule.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and worked to isolate the island internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report earlier this year describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.

Democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being run by autocratic China.

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom of navigation patrols.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Yimou Lee in TAIPEI; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Paul Tait

Source: Reuters “U.S. Navy ships pass through strategic Taiwan Strait, riling China”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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U.S. eyes Taiwan risk as China’s military capabilities grow


FILE PHOTO: Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, potentially capable of sinking a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in a single strike, travel past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing Thursday Sept. 3, 2015. REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool/File Photo

Phil Stewart January 16, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is closely watching Chinese intentions toward Taiwan, concerned that Beijing’s growing military prowess may increase the risk it could one day consider bringing the self-ruled island under its control by force, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The senior U.S. defense intelligence official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not predict that China’s military, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), would take such a step but said such a possibility was the top worry as China expands and modernizes its military capabilities.

“The biggest concern is that … they are getting to a point where the PLA leadership may actually tell Xi Jinping that they are confident in their capabilities,” the official said, referring to China’s president.

Pressed on whether the official was referring to Chinese confidence in its capabilities to be able to successfully win a battle with Taiwan, the official said, “Well, specifically that would be the most concerning to me.”

Taiwan is only one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, including a trade war between the countries, U.S. sanctions on the Chinese military, and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea.

However, in meetings with Pentagon leaders, PLA officials have long described Taiwan as China’s most sensitive issue.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and worked to isolate the island internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

It has also strongly objected to U.S. warship passages through the Taiwan Strait this year, and issued a terse warning about Taiwan after talks in Beijing on Tuesday with the U.S. Navy’s top officer, Admiral John Richardson.

‘WHATEVER IT TAKES’

In the talks, Chinese General Li Zuocheng, chief of China’s Central Military Commission Joint Staff Department, stressed that Taiwan was “China’s internal affairs” and that Beijing would allow “no external interference.”

“If someone tries to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will do whatever it takes to safeguard national reunification, national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to an English-language statement here by China’s defense ministry on the talks.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

Xi has stepped up pressure on the democratic island since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party became president in 2016.

On Jan. 2, Xi said in a speech that China reserved the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but would strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”

Still, the U.S. defense intelligence official cautioned against over-reacting, noting Xi could believe he has plenty of time to achieve reunification with Taiwan.

The official also cautioned that China’s military still faced gaps in its capabilities.

“They could order them to go today, but I don’t think they’re particularly confident in that capability,” the official said.

Also on Tuesday, the Defense Intelligence Agency released a report describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.

U.S. defense officials have become particularly alarmed about China’s advances in super-fast “hypersonic” technology, which could allow it to field missiles that are far harder to detect.

“The result … is a PLA on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world. In some areas, it already leads the world,” the report said here

Reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Will Dunham and James Dalgleish

Source: Reuters “U.S. eyes Taiwan risk as China’s military capabilities grow”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China Intensifies Preparations for Armed Reunification with Taiwan


SCMP’s report today titled “Chinese President Xi Jinping gives army its first order of 2019: be ready for battle” quotes Xi as stressing that Chinese troops must be ready for ‘a comprehensive military struggle from a new starting’.

The report says. “Similarly, the CMC issued a series of guidelines to boost morale, saying military personnel would be promoted on the basis of merit, and promising greater leniency and understanding for mistakes made in training.

What is the new starting?

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s utter rejection to Xi’s proposal of reunification with the pattern of “one country, two systems”.

Pentagon’s focus on China, China, China.

As a result, Chinese troops must be prepared for armed reunification that may involve the US. China has to further develop advanced weapons. PLA has to intensify training to prepare for war.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/2180772/chinese-president-xi-jinping-gives-army-its-first-order-2019.


Higher US-China Tension as Major Arms Contractor Controls Pentagon


In its report “For Shanahan, a very public debut in Trump’s cabinet” yesterday, Reuters quotes a US defense official as saying that in one of his first meetings of the day, US Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan told civilian leaders of the U.S. military to focus on “China, China, China,” even as America fights militants in Syria and Afghanistan.

US President Donald Trump wants the US to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan to reduce US military expenditures. That will cause US arms contractors to make less money from US wars there, but they do not worry.

Shanahan had spent three decades at Boeing and was general manager for the 787 Dreamliner passenger jet before he joined the Pentagon. He has bigger plan for them to make much more money: intensification of arms race with China.

That is why while Trump has been seeking an end of trade war with China, Shanahan wants to focus on China, China, China.

Arms race with China may greatly increase US military budget to bring windfall to major US arms contractors including Boeing.

Reuters says, “Other officials have described Shanahan as an advocate of the Pentagon’s toughening stance toward Beijing. The 2018 National Defense Strategy here, which Shanahan helped develop, branded China as a strategic competitor.” Shanahan has been working for that for quite a long time.

What Shanahan needs to do is but to heighten tension in Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.

Taiwan’s pro-independence president Tsai Ing-wen has got the signal. Reuters says Tsai made hardline response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s offer of unification in the manner of “one country, two systems”.

Reuters says in its report “Taiwan president defiant after China calls for reunification” yesterday, “Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday the island would not accept a ‘one country, two systems’ political arrangement with China, while stressing all cross-strait negotiations needed to be on a government-to-government basis.”

By government to government Tsai means that China shall treat Taiwan as an independent country. That will certainly heighten tension at Taiwan Strait. Even if there is no war there, US weapon producers will have the chances to sell lots of weapons to Taiwan. Moreover, the US may allocate more funds for development and purchase of advanced weapons with the excuse of protecting Taiwan.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-china/for-shanahan-a-very-public-debut-in-trumps-cabinet-idUSKCN1OW151 and https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-taiwan-president/taiwan-president-defiant-after-china-calls-for-reunification-idUSKCN1OW0FN.


China’s Defense Buildup Effective Deterrence of US Aggression


Washington Free Beacon’s article “China Speeding Up Large-Scale Military Buildup” says China’s military modernization “undermines deterrence and increase risk of war”

The article is based on the recently published annual report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

It tries to make others believe that there will be risk of war if the US has lost its military superiority.

The fact is precisely the contrary. When there was military balance between the US and the Soviet Union in the Cold War period, the US was very careful not to fight a war for fear of Soviet involvement. Its defeat in Vietnam has taught it a humiliating lesson.

When the US became the only superpower in the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US became arrogant. It recklessly invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and boasted its ability to fight two conventional wars simultaneously.

It is a pity that in spite of its superiority in weapons and military technology, it is unable to win the wars. It has to keep its troops in Afghanistan to deal with Taliban that it cannot conquer after more than a decade of fighting.

Its occupation of Iraq gave rise to ISIS that it had to eliminate by its proxies.

Economically, the two wars have left the US heavily in debt and made it realize that it cannot afford a war in a relatively large country such as Iraq, let alone China.

China’s military buildup is precisely the deterrence of US wars of aggression it works as a balance to US aggressive military power.

It first of all aims at deterrence of US military intervention in China’s Taiwan issue.

Taiwan is a province of China, but the article regards it as a country. It shows some Americans’ ambition to separate Taiwan from China. China has to make its military much stronger than the US to prevent that.

The US manipulated to have the International Court of Arbitration at the Hague to give an arbitration award that entirely deny China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea. China rejected the award and the UN issued a statement that the arbitration court is not a UN agency. In spite of that the US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept the award.

If China had not built up its air force and navy, constructed its artificial islands and deployed defensive weapons there, it would not have effectively deterred US military intervention in China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea.

China’s military buildup is entirely legitimate and necessary for its national security and defense.

The above facts prove that contrary to what the article claims, China’s military buildup deters and decreases the risk of war.

The article shows that the US is scared by China’s military buildup but that is only the beginning. I have pointed out in my previous posts that China’s military buildup is still far from enough. Only when China has developed the capability of strikes of US homeland can entirely deter US attack of Chinese homeland. That will take a decade or two.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Washington Free Beacon’s article, full text of which can be viewed at https://freebeacon.com/national-security/china-speeding-large-scale-military-buildup/?utm_source=Freedom+Mail&utm_campaign=577f6fb70d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_11_14_10_55_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b5e6e0e9ea-577f6fb70d-46069085.


War of Words before Trade War Truce?


Reuters describes the oral war between US and Chinese high officials at their joint press conference after their talks in its report “U.S. presses China to halt militarization of South China Sea” yesterday.

The two sides argued about Taiwan, South China Sea, human rights, etc. but not trade.

The report says, “While Pompeo spoke little about trade in his public comments, Yang (Yang Jiechi, Politburo member of the Chinese Communist Party) said he hoped the two sides would find a mutually acceptable solution on the issue ‘before long.’”

It seems there will be a truce in their trade war as neither of them wants to be hurt by it, but the conflicts on other issues will remain and be the major themes of their cold war in the future as cold war is unavoidable since the US has fallen deep in Thucydides trap.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china/u-s-presses-china-to-halt-militarization-of-south-china-sea-idUSKCN1NE2C4.


U.S. warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions


Yimou Lee, Idrees Ali, Phil Stewart October 22, 2018

TAIPEI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday in the second such operation this year, as the U.S. military increases the frequency of transits through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further heightening tensions with China but will likely be viewed in self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support by President Donald Trump’s government, amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

Reuters was first to report U.S. consideration of the sensitive operation on Saturday.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

“The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” he added.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said it closely monitored the operation and was able to “maintain the security of the seas and the airspace” as it occurred.

There was no immediate comment from China.

The U.S. Navy conducted a similar mission in the strait’s international waters in July, which had been the first such voyage in about a year. The latest operation shows the U.S. Navy is increasing the pace of strait passages.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan, but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

STATUS QUO?

China views Taiwan as a wayward province and has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island. It raised concerns over U.S. policy toward Taiwan in talks last week with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Singapore.

As the United States prepared for a fresh passage through the strait, it told China’s military that its overall policy toward Taiwan was unchanged.

Mattis delivered that message to China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe personally on Thursday, on the sidelines of an Asian security forum.

“Minister Wei raised Taiwan and concerns about our policy. The Secretary reassured Minister Wei that we haven’t changed our Taiwan policy, our one China policy,” Randall Schriver, a U.S. assistant secretary of defense who helps guide Pentagon policy in Asia, told reporters traveling with Mattis.

“So it was, I think, a familiar exchange.”

Taiwan is only one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a bitter trade war, U.S. sanctions, and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea.

Taiwan’s relations with China have deteriorated since the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party swept to power in 2016.

Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, responded to the July passage with a warning to the United States to avoid jeopardizing “peace and stability” in the strategic waterway.

It has also viewed U.S. overtures toward Taiwan with alarm, including its unveiling a new de facto embassy in Taiwan and passage of the Taiwan Travel Act, which encourages U.S. officials to visit the island.

Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and China has shifted decisively in China’s favor in recent years, and China could easily overwhelm the island unless U.S. forces came quickly to Taiwan’s aid.

China has also alarmed Taiwan by ramping up military exercises this year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island and sending its aircraft carrier through the narrow Taiwan Strait separating it from Taiwan.

Reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei and Lee Chyen Yee in Singapore; Writing by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bill Berkrot

Source: Reuters “U.S. warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.