China’s current large-scale military drills around Taiwan simulate a scenario in which Taiwan would be taken before the U.S. military could intervene, according to a Nikkei Shimbun report on Sunday (Aug. 7).
The report said that ships and aircraft had been forbidden from entering China’s military exercise zone during the four-day drills, which in effect has forced a blockade of Taiwan. As to why the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercise lasted four days, people familiar with the Chinese military have said that it takes about seven days for the U.S. military to arrive in Taiwan after completing relevant domestic procedures.
Therefore, the PLA might have planned the current military exercise to play out a decisive battle that immediately defeats Taiwan before the U.S. could intervene, according to the report.
China’s current military exercise differs from the one in 1996 when the PLA only fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait in the immediate area surrounding the exercise. The current exercise has added Taiwan’s eastern and southeastern sea and airspace, which signals the PLA was practicing a blockade of Taiwan, per Nikkei Shimbun.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, the Chinese military fired 11 missiles in the exercise and five fell into the sea east of Taiwan, which suggests the drill’s aim was to stop the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy from coming to help defend Taiwan.
Two of the missiles were fired into the sea southwest of Taiwan near the Bashi Channel, which is used by the PLA to circumvent Taiwan en route to the West Pacific.
Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University, said on CCTV that the southern exercise zone’s proximity to the Bashi Channel shows China could blockade the channel during an emergency and stop U.S. aircraft carriers from sailing north from the South China Sea.
As of Saturday, Chinese military aircraft have also crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait four times during the exercise.
Since 1955, there has been a tacit agreement between China and Taiwan not to cross the median line. Some have opined that China is using the exercise to invalidate the median line.