With Taiwan drills, Xi Jinping tries to salvage Pelosi crisis

BEIJING: President of China Xi Jinping might not have been able to stop Nancy PelosiDuring his visit to Taiwan, he ordered his country’s military to exercise a much more drastic step: a major blockade to seize the island by force, security experts say.
China’s military planners have long discussed a blockade of Taiwan, but so far are likely to have found implementing such a move too provocative, security experts say.
But after the visit of US House Speaker Pelosi, the Chinese military fired missiles at Taipei for the first time, flew waves of drones over Taiwan’s offshore islands, sailed warships across the street. median line of the Taiwan Strait and encircling the self-governing island in what Taiwan’s military says is tantamount to a “blockade” practice.
Li Mingjiang, an associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said: “These first actions have in effect changed the security status quo of Taiwan.
“This gives the Chinese military a new basis to push the boundaries more in future exercises,” he said.
The show of capacity and determination comes from a far more formidable People’s Liberation Army (PLA) than during the 1996 “Third Taiwan Strait Crisis”, the last time it fired Missile near Taiwan.
The ability to enforce a blockade would give Beijing the leverage to bring Taiwan to the negotiating table in a conflict.
If Taiwan, unwilling to suffer death and mass destruction, accepts bloodless reunification, Xi will have the grand prize of his long-term goal of “rejuvenating the Chinese people.” Country”.
Although the Taiwanese public, shaken by threats from Beijing for decades, appears undeterred, some observers say its military leaders may be worried.
Michael Chang, who managed the Taiwan missile crisis in 1996 while serving as deputy secretary-general of Taiwan’s National Security Council, told local media that the drills could be a preview of the a Chinese invasion scenario.
The United States and its allies such as Japan condemned the exercise. Because they did not want the situation to escalate, they did not intervene directly to halt the blockade drills.
A former Chinese defense official told Reuters their response would be cold comfort to Taiwanese politicians and military leaders.
“Seeing how the US and its allies reacted to the exercise, how confident can Taiwan’s leaders be in trusting they will come to the rescue if the PLA attacks?” he say.
The drills are scheduled to end on Sunday.
The episode comes at a delicate time for Xi, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
Mao founded the People’s Republic of China by winning a civil war in 1949, bringing the Kuomintang government to retreat to Taiwan, which has since been self-governing.
Bringing Taiwan into Beijing’s arms is a key piece of unfinished business that will cement Xi’s stature alongside Mao and justify his move in 2018 to waive mandate limits. period.
Despite widespread frustration over the zero-Covid policy that has led the country into its third year of self-imposed and battered economy, Mr. Xi is expected to secure a second term in office. three last five years in a key position. Communist Party Conference This year.
Domestically, Beijing must balance the outrage it has engendered over Pelosi’s visit with the embarrassment of being unstoppable, observers said.
State media splashed the drills with videos and commentary praising China’s advanced military capabilities.
Former Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said the hype was partly an attempt to save Mr. Xi, who could not appear weak before the party congress.
“The hard and indisputable fact is that for all the gloom, China was unable to stop Pelosi’s visit. So the CCP has to give its own response,” he said.
Although China may have moved closer to using force against Taiwan, most experts do not believe that a war is imminent.
Charles Parton, a retired British diplomat, said: “This decade’s invasion is far from certain of success. Failure will mark the end of Xi Jinping, his dream and maybe the CCP.”
Mr. Xi, who has not spoken publicly about Pelosi’s visit but as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, indeed the PLA’s Commander-in-Chief, will be well aware of the risks of action, experts say. .
“China hopes that these exercises can stem the worrisome trend of the US, Europe and many other countries becoming more sympathetic towards Taiwan,” said security analyst Li.

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