Military drills extended: China’s plans for Taiwan?
Officially, China’s military exercises around Taiwan officially ended on 11 April, but according to the Taiwanese Ministry of Defence China is continuing drills with 9 ships and 26 aircraft. The People’s Republic still considers Taiwan, which has been independent for 70 years, to be part of its territory. Could a blockade or even an invasion be the next step? Europe’s press is divided.
Option of war is open
China could try to seal off Taiwan, fears Corriere della Sera:
“Tensions are rising with Xi because his China is increasingly nationalistic, wants to become the dominant superpower in Asia, and now seems to have the means to realise its ambitions. The option of war is open. ... One variant that Xi is keeping open involves the use of armed forces, but without the ground deployment of troops — a prolonged air and sea blockade that would lead to economic strangulation in order to achieve Taiwan’s surrender without creating a casus belli for American intervention.”
The usual drama
The immediate danger to Taiwan should not be exaggerated, The Independent cautions:
“The encirclement exercise is part of a pattern of response, triggered when America is deemed to have committed a diplomatic outrage. In this case, it was the speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, entertaining the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, in California last week. ... China is also aware that, for all its military resources, an invasion of Taiwan would be logistically difficult, such is the state of the island’s defences – and some 300,000 well-equipped troops plus 3 million ‘civilian warriors’.”
Threat of a severe production crisis
A collapse of microchip production as a result of the China-Taiwan conflict would have an even worse international impact than Covid-19, Dnevnik warns:
“If Taiwan’s microchip production capacity were blocked, it would take half a decade to create an equivalent one. The disruption of this production would provoke a global economic and political crisis far greater than that caused by Covid-19. In practice, it would affect economic processes on an almost incalculable scale from today’s perspective.”
China would benefit from Europe and the US moving away from each other on the Taiwan issue, but this is not possible right now because of Ukraine, Postimees comments:
“Europe cannot allow its relations with China to deteriorate to the point where the latter has a clear strategic interest in backing Russia in its war with Ukraine. Nor can Europe leave America alone in defending Taiwan, because that could embolden China and tie up US forces, leaving it without sufficient resources and attention for Ukraine. This dilemma highlights the uncomfortable truth behind Macron’s perhaps ill-advised words: Europe lacks strategic autonomy.”