China has been explicitly labeled the hypothetical enemy for the first time in biennial US-Japan military exercise Keen Edge.
Washington and Tokyo previously used a conditional name for their enemy to avoid backlash. They also utilized maps that slightly differed from the topography of actual countries, according to a report by Kyodo News.
However, in this year’s Keen Edge, the two allied nations directly used China’s name as their main adversary — a move that could send a strong message to the Asian military superpower.
Beijing has become a growing threat for both the US and Japan, especially as it continues to assert its military power in the Indo-Pacific. It has also ramped up its military aggression around Taiwan, a close ally of Washington.
This year’s Keen Edge exercise envisions an emergency in Taiwan and simulates how the US military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces would jointly respond.
China has been conducting large-scale war games around Taiwan to simulate potential attacks to invade the island.
Beijing views Taiwan as its breakaway province and warned that it “will never commit to abandoning the use of force” to retake it.
In January 2024, the self-ruled nation said it detected several Chinese balloons, military aircraft, and naval ships crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
The CIA previously claimed that the increasing aggression of China is part of its efforts to develop the ability to take control of Taiwan by 2027.
In response to the growing threats, Taipei continues to build its military capabilities by procuring sophisticated weapons and building necessary infrastructure.
Its allies, the US and Japan, have also been conducting joint military exercises since 1986 to practice defending islands in the region.