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China conducts “Lockup”Exercises after Pelosi Leaves Taiwan

Posted by on 2022/08/04. Filed under Breaking News,Headline News,International. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

For years, the deliberate “strategic ambiguity” in Washington’s China policy has left it uncertain how the US would respond to a full-scale amphibious invasion of Taiwan.But an equally difficult question — and perhaps even trickier in the minds of many senior White House and defense officials — is how to respond to a slow push by the Chinese military to cut off much of the island’s access, either physically or digitally.

That question may soon be tested for the first time in a quarter century.China announced during a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it would hold live-fire military exercises at six sites around Taiwan, potentially triggering the biggest cross-strait crisis since 1996, when President Bill Clinton ordered a US aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait.

But the exercises at that time were much farther off Taiwan’s coast than the one the Chinese government has warned ships and aircraft it plans to conduct.

The strategic environment was much more moderate than it is today, with the belief that China would change its behavior as it entered the global economy, and in her speech to Chinese students, Mrs. Clinton told them that the spread of the Internet would promote freedom and dissent.
At the same time, the Chinese military had only a fraction of the capabilities it now boasts, such as the anti-ship missiles it has developed to keep American warships away.

Government officials say that, in their assessment, a complete cut-off of access to Taiwan is unlikely – in large part because it would hurt China’s own economy at a time of a severe economic slowdown.

On Friday, the Group of Seven, the core of the Western alliance, warned China not to retaliate against Ms. Pelosi’s visit, an apparent hint that China would be widely condemned for overreacting, as with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But US officials say they are concerned that events in the coming days could spark a clash between Chinese and Taiwanese forces, particularly if the Chinese military fires missiles over Taiwan or incurs into disputed airspace, leading to a clash in the air.

Something similar happened 20 years ago, when a Chinese military plane collided with an American surveillance plane.

The exercises began early Wednesday, with China announcing the closure of several areas off the coast of Taiwan, and the White House and Pentagon watching the situation closely to try to figure out whether China is sending troops to each area.

But their assessment is that China’s current strategy is designed to intimidate and coerce rather than provoke direct conflict.
Outside experts are more concerned that the exercises could escalate.”
This is one of those difficult situations,” said Yang Lin, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

She previously headed the Taiwan Affairs division at the Pentagon and held other defense positions.”If a military exercise turns into a blockade, when will it become clear that the exercise has become a blockade?Who should be the first to respond?

Taiwan’s military? The United States? It’s not clear.” Shifting from a drill to a lockdown is one of many scenarios in which Washington often conducts “mock exercises,” as U.S. officials try to map out options ahead of a crisis.
But nothing really recapitulates the real confrontation.
Aides said Mr. Biden must try to walk a fine line between avoiding caving in to China and avoiding escalation.

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