China Is Playing a Dangerous Game of Chicken with Taiwan

J-20 stealth fighter jet of the Chinese PLA Air Force.
A J-20 stealth fighter jet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force performs during the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 in Zhuhai in southern China's Guangdong province. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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What is China Planning When it Comes to Taiwan? 

Just days after a top U.S. military official warned that the United States should be prepared for a war with China over Taiwan in 2025, Beijing on Wednesday conducted the largest incursion of Taiwanese airspace in weeks.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense reported that 34 Chinese military aircraft, along with nine naval vessels, were detected near the self-governing island at around 3 a.m. local time.

Twenty of the detected Chinese aircraft had reportedly crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan's southwest Air Defense Identification Zone, according to the Ministry. The median line is at the central point of the Taiwan Strait and has been the unofficial buffer zone between the two sides.

However, Beijing insists that Taiwan is a breakaway province that will be returned to mainland control, by force if necessary – despite the fact the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled the island.

Beijing conducts these sorties near Taiwan to reinforce its stance. The vast majority of Taiwanese are not swayed, and they oppose unifying with the People's Republic of China.

Though Wednesday's incursion is the largest of the new calendar year, at the end of December China deployed a record 71 aircraft and seven ships toward Taiwan, the largest such sortie of 2022.

Standing by Taiwan

A day before the Chinese military incursion, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent thanks to the governments of France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan.

On Monday, Paris and Canberra pledged to deepen ties with Taipei and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations.

In addition, in a visit to Japan on Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that China's growing assertiveness and its increased collaboration with Russia could pose a grave threat not only to Asia, but also to Europe.

The NATO chief had previously criticized Beijing for "bullying its neighbors and threatening Taiwan," but he also added that "NATO needs to make sure we have friends," and called for Tokyo and other democracies in the region to work together and stand up to such aggression.

China's Foreign Ministry responded by accusing the international military alliance of exceeding its mandate, with a spokesperson on Wednesday claiming that China is a force for regional and global peace.

It was just last week that U.S. Air Force General Mike Minihan sent a memo to every airman with Air Mobility Command that warned of a war with China by the middle of the decade.

"I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025," the Feb. 1-dated memo stated, and Minihan speculated that the presidential elections in Taiwan and the United States could serve as a catalyst. "Taiwan's presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason," he said.

"United States' presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi's team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025."

A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs.

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