by N. Peter Kramer
Chinese warplanes flew more than two dozen sorties near Taiwan, as Beijing staged its largest show of aerial force toward the island democracy since mid-September. The flights appear to deliver a warning to the new US President Joe Biden of the stakes involved in supporting the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its territory and has vowed to assimilate. Hours after the US issued a statement, Taipei reported that Beijing sent more flights.
The Chinese Defense Ministry called the flights a response to ‘foreign interference and provocations by the forces pushing for independence of Taiwan’. A spokesman for the ministry his warned in sharp terms: ‘Independence means war’. He also said the Chinese military will take all necessary steps to quell a ‘separatist plot’. He expressed the hope that the US will avoid confrontation.
The Chinese military flights coincided with U.S. naval manoeuvres in the nearby South China Sea, which an American aircraft-carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt entered to conduct security operations and combat drills. The commander, Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo, didn’t refer to Taiwan but was clear when he was quoted as saying that his forces are ‘promoting freedom of the seas and reassuring allies and partners’. Washington let know, that it will deepen ties with Taipei and continue to help it maintain ‘a sufficient self-defence capability. Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid’. The US will maintain the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, the key foreign policy principles regarding its relation with Taiwan.
It seems as though President Biden will continue the tough policies of his predecessor on supporting Taiwan!