What China’s Military Exercises Reveal About Its Taiwan Strategy | WSJ

What China’s Military Exercises Reveal About Its Taiwan Strategy | WSJ
Chinese state media videos and a map of live-fire exercises around Taiwan have displayed Beijing’s strategy to impose an aerial and maritime blockade on the island. Here’s how China could threaten both Taiwan and global trade in case of a military conflict.

– [Reporter] Chinese fighter jets
carried out simulated attacks
as they flew near Taiwan’s airspace,
warships sailed close to the island’s military bases
and major ports, and long range rockets flew
in the direction of the self-ruled democracy.
All this was part of war games
following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
To understand what China’s army is doing,
military analysts have been looking at footage
from state media and mapping the locations
where the drills have taken place.
Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its own territory,
and with these military drills,
it’s showing how it would seek to isolate the island
in the event of a conflict.
These are six zones
where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army
has been holding its exercises in recent days.
– China appears to be practicing its ability
to enforce a blockade in Taiwan by putting its ships
and planes basically in a big circle around Taiwan.
– [Reporter] During the drills,
China showed that different branches of its army
can work in sync.
– China’s clearly trying to show
that it can operate in various regions around Taiwan.
It can coordinate that large military
across the seas and the air and with its missiles
and its intelligence gathering its communication,
its reconnaissance.
– [Reporter] But the drills also showed
that Beijing’s military has limitations.
Military analysts say that China appears to lack the assets
to impose a total blockade of the island,
so instead, it seems to be preparing
for a sort of quarantine around Taiwan.
– A mini blockade of Taiwan, cutting off aspects
of its connections with the rest of the world,
allowing Taiwan to import food
but not allowing it to bring in other materials;
for instance, oil.
– [Reporter] Looking closer
at where some of the zones were set up
shows how China could choke off the island.
This zone located north of Taiwan
is just some 30 miles away from Taipei,
which is home to the island’s busiest international airport.
And this southwest zone
is near Taiwan’s most important commercial port.
And then there’s the Taiwan Strait,
one of the busiest trade routes in the world.
The proximity of the action
to key shipping routes in the region
triggered the delays of some commercial flights
and shipments, demonstrating the pain
China could also inflict on world commerce.
– This is a very active area for shipping, connecting Korea
and Japan with the oil markets of the Middle East,
connecting the semiconductor industry
with the rest of the world.
– [Reporter] The drills also took place
in parts of Japan’s exclusive economic zone,
an area of the sea that gives sovereign states
the rights to exploit and control marine resources.
Japan’s defense minister says
some of China’s missiles landed there.
– If there is a Chinese live-fire exercise in those seas,
commercial ships will be deterred
and that will certainly collapse trade in that area.
– [Reporter] The Chinese military said
it would continue the drills around Taiwan
beyond the initially announced four days.
So as tensions continue to mount,
the question is whether these exercises
would escalate larger military activity in the region.
– Any sustained effort like we’ve seen
with these exercises is clearly gonna result
in more military activity by the US, possibly by Japan,
and other powers in the region.
(soft tense music)


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