China invades Taiwan’s airspace 149 times in four days igniting fears of war
(Mirror.co.uk) Chinese jets have invaded Taiwan’s airspace 149 times in four days, sparking the worst fears of war in decades.
Beijing demands ownership of Taiwan, an island 112 miles off China’s east coast which broke away from the communist mainland in 1949.
Taiwan has 175,000 full-time soldiers and more than a million reservists but, if it fell, would become an outcrop of tyrannical Chinese government control.
The US and allies such as the UK and Australia are alarmed as they could be dragged into a conflict. The US naval manoeuvres in the Indo-Pacific, which includes the UK’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, have been stepped up
Taiwanese defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng called the situation “the most severe in the 40 years since I’ve enlisted”.
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen warned: “If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace.”
She believed it would show “authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy.”
Why is this happening now?
China is desperate to expand further, having effectively taken over large parts of Vietnam, Cambodia and invested money for control all over Africa and even in Afghanistan.
The US is withdrawing its military globally and its response to a Taiwan invasion is not guaranteed.
China President Xi Jinping is under constant pressure to exert influence on his people through nationalism, fear and strategic gains.
In its own eyes taking over Taiwan would boost the regime’s credibility, potency and global leverage. It would be a big victory over America. China believes Taiwan has to be the next target in its strategic quest for global domination.
What’s the chance of attempted invasion and all-out war?
As China conducted recent flights, 17 ships, including three aircraft carriers, from six navies –the US, Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand – manoeuvred off Okinawa, Japanese islands north east of Taiwan. The aim was to show commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Earlier British frigate HMS Richmond passed through the Taiwan Strait, angering China, which branded it a “meaningless display of presence with an insidious intention.”
But yesterday US President Joe Biden and Mr Xi reiterated the Taiwan Agreement, which says US diplomatic relations with China in the future depend on Taiwan’s destiny being only determined by peaceful means.
Mr Chiu claimed China is already equipped for an invasion but will be fully prepared for it in three years. He said: “It has the capacity now but it will not start a war easily.” There is a slim possibility of war in the near future but there is a much greater fear of war by 2025.
How is China exerting its global influence?
In every way possible, from economic expansion, geo-political manoeuvres, money loaning, large-scale web-hacking to stealing billions of pounds of research and development and military threats.
Its multi-billion dollar “belt and road” policy has built up a communications network of complex inter-linking roads, maritime trading routes and commercial ties to around 71 countries.
Beijing deploys “debt diplomacy” like the mafia. But governments from Malaysia to Pakistan are rethinking the costs, having witnessed what happened in Sri Lanka, where the government was forced to lease a port to a Chinese company for 99 years after struggling to make repayments.
It is believed there are eight more belt and road countries at serious risk of being unable to repay their loans and being forced to give up businesses or lease them out to China.
How would the West react to an invasion of Taiwan?
AUKUS, a new defence deal between the US, Australia and the UK, concentrating on the building of nuclear submarines, is good news for Taiwan.
It means China would never be secure in believing it knows where all the attack subs are at any one time. They can wipe out large numbers of ships very quickly – but as a Chinese fleet set sail Aukus would need to launch an assault, probably inflicting devastating damage within 72 hours.
Would the UK be dragged in?
The UK’s carrier strike force is likely to be deployed, along with a number of attack submarines, linking to Britain’s allied forces.
Its F-35B fighter jets and accompanying escort warships would be a huge asset in any maritime conflict.
If China did attack Taiwan, it could mean a very bloody war, even if only locally fought.
With a conventional war against China likely to cost tens of thousands of lives, China may gamble that the West will keep out of it.
But if it did try and stand up for Taiwan, nuclear weapons could come into play.
350 nuclear weapons
300,000 Navy personnel
527 warships including 4 aircraft carriers
708,886 tons of ships
59 submarines ( 12 of them nuclear powered)
5,800 nuclear weapons
347,044 Navy personnel
290 deployable warships including 20 aircraft carriers.
3,415,893 tons of ships
66 subs ( 52 nuclear powered)