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China's increased focus on Taiwan's military options raises risks with US

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Reuters

Beijing — As Taiwan The dust of China's military exercises around has settled, and the message is clear. The military will support China's claims to Taiwan and challenge the United States, which heightens tensions and increases the risk of confrontation.

China failed to stop US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from visiting democratically ruled Taiwan last week. China said the visit destroyed the foundation of political trust between her two largest economies in the world.

The trip likely also changed China's military calculations, analysts say.

Zhao Tong, a security scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: "The crisis has reinforced China's view that reunification with Taiwan could probably only be achieved through coercive means.

China's immediate reaction to President Pelosi's visit was to conduct its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan.

Also, for the first time, a missile flew over the island and a ship crossed the unofficial center line of the Taiwan Strait. The line was set by the United States in the 1950s but was never formally endorsed by China.

It expects to maintain extensive patrols in the vicinity and establish long-term control of the waterway beyond the centerline.

Even before the exercises, China claimed sovereignty over the Strait. , the United States and Taiwan call the strait an international waterway.

"China has shown that it has the power to enforce its own language, and that it is not just an empty diplomatic posture." said Wang Kunyi, president of the Taiwan Society for International Strategies.

"The exercises have changed the status quo in the Taiwan Strait originally established by the Americans. We are waiting to see if the Americans take any action to reverse this status quo.

The White House rejected the new status quo and vowed to implement air and sea transportation across the Straits in the next few weeks.

43} The Taiwanese government has said that the People's Republic of China has never ruled the island, so it has no right to claim Taiwan or determine its future.

Military risks

When military exercises ended Wednesday, China released a white paper on Taiwan for the first time since 2000, citing a preference for a "peaceful reunification" with the island. was reconfirmed.

However, after taking control of Taiwan, it withdrew its pledge not to station troops there.

While China's affirmation of peaceful reunification indicates that it is not planning an imminent invasion, the shutdown of some channels of military Military risks gaining traction in the long term, with weakening guardrails for managing inadvertent conflicts.

"The confrontation between China and the United States will shift to a higher gear," said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University.

"Although the likelihood of an intentional conflict remains low, China's decision to suspend military communications certainly makes it more difficult to prevent an accidental conflict."

In protest against Pelosi's visit, China also suspended cooperation with the United States on areas such as climate change and anti-drug operations, and announced unspecified sanctions against Pelosi and her family.

Passion for nationalism

Training and toughness by some Chinese diplomats sparks passion for nationalism, with many citizens online calling for 'reunification of the motherland' I was.

But sober policymakers and intellectuals say there is no danger that public outcry will force Xi to move to Taiwan before he is ready.

"Chinese leaders may use the nationalist sentiment of their people to justify policy decisions and put pressure on other countries, but the opposite does not work. Public opinion will not pressure us to act rashly, a policy source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

It is not the best solution.”

Reflecting Taiwan's economic value, China imposed some restrictions on imports of Taiwan's agricultural products, but spared it on electronics. This suggests that trade measures are largely symbolic.

Just 0 citrus fruits and fresh and frozen fish were on Beijing's trade suspension list, according to Reuters calculations based on Chinese customs data. His 01% of China's total imports from Taiwan in 2021.

Taiwanese people laughed off the release of messages from hackers protesting Mr Pelosi's visit and remained oblivious to warnings from Beijing officials. Screens at convenience stores and train stations.

Analysts say the Chinese threat is counterproductive in winning over people.

Beijing's hard-line stance during the 2000 and his 2020 Taiwan presidential elections turned voters toward candidates like Chen Shui-bian and Tsai Ing-wen, whom China sees as supporters of independence. .

Elisa Cheng, 28, who works in advertising in Taipei, told Reuters that people her age suspected that China would invade Taiwan. said.

"But if that really happened, we would be like Hong Kong. China would just eat us." (Yew Lun Tian, ​​Martin Quin Pollard (Additional reporting by Kevin Yao, Greg Torode, and Aleksander Solum; Editing by Ryan Woo and Robert Birsel)