(File Photo:China Military)
The Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting a real-combat military exercise near the Taiwan Straits starting Friday. Taiwan media reported that starting 7:16 am, aircraft of the PLA were approaching Taiwan island from four directions: the southwest, west, northwest and north of the island. Taiwan reportedly made 22 broadcasts to "dispel" the PLA aircraft, and the island used "airspace" instead of "air zone" or "air defense identification zone" in its broadcasts. The "Taiwan defense department" said 18 Chinese aircraft appeared in the Taiwan Straits, with some crossing the "middle-line."
From our point of view, the PLA is still restrained. Every time a high-ranking US official visits Taiwan, the fighter jets of the PLA should be one step closer to the island. If the US secretary of state or secretary of defense come to Taiwan, the PLA should fly its aircraft over the island and conduct exercises above it. The missiles we test should also fly over Taiwan, even its "Presidential Office Building." If Taiwan authorities continue to act aggressively, such scenarios will definitely come true.
The military exercise sent two prominent signals. First, China's Ministry of National Defense spokesperson made it clear that the exercise is aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Straits, which refers to the frequent collusion between the US and the island of Taiwan, the visit of US Undersecretary of State Keith Krach to Taiwan in particular. This indicates that the PLA won't be restrained in words anymore. Our target of deterrence is collusion between the US and the island. It shows China's upgraded determination and will.
Second, the response of the PLA is extremely quick. Taiwan and the US did not officially announce Krach's visit until he boarded the plane. Krach arrived in Taiwan Thursday. There was no announcement on the military exercise of the PLA in advance. It's more likely the exercise was a last-minute decision.
That a massive action can be organized in such a short time sends a strong signal. It shows that the PLA has the ability to mobilize and organize a military action targeted at Taiwan in a very short period of time. Although it's called a military exercise, it's more like an actual combat. It's an emergency response by the PLA and the country to the situation in the Taiwan Straits, which contains great significance, adding the weight of the mainland in dealing with the cross-Straits situation.
Through this exercise and the previous series of exercises, the PLA has accumulated experience in attacking Taiwan and mastered key data on Taiwan's defense system. They are rehearsals on taking over Taiwan. What is needed is a political reason that can turn them into real battle to smash Taiwan independence forces.
The collusion between the US and Taiwan island is becoming the most prominent source of turbulence in the Taiwan Straits. The PLA military exercise this time further focused on deterrence and a strike. If the US and Taiwan island think they can realize "normalization" of relations by adopting "salami tactics," they will be plunged into peril and risks. The mainland is determined to take all necessary means, including military options, to prevent the US and the island from upgrading their provocations.
The PLA has lifted the curtain on real-combat military exercises targeted at Taiwan, and the scale of such exercises is bound to expand in the future and meet the requirements for substantive strikes against Taiwan. In fact, the Friday exercise is a landmark in the struggle across the Taiwan Straits.
The US and Taiwan must not misjudge the situation, or believe the exercise is a bluff. Should they continue to make provocations, a war will inevitably break out. Those who have underestimated China's determination recently have all paid the price. China decisively put forward the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong. China has shown that it doesn't fear war on the China-India border. The Taiwan Straits is by no means a place where separatists can act recklessly. If Taiwan authorities try, they will definitely be met with the mainland's military solutions.
Taiwan is a small place. It has no conditions for a modern military confrontation. Taiwan independence is a dead end.