Taiwan referendum to cause ‘severe’ Chinese reaction says expert
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Beijing’s show of force crossed into Taiwan’s air defence buffer zone and ignored radio warnings. Taipei scrambled its own fighters and readied surface-to-air missiles to counter against China’s military exercise.
This latest exercise was the largest incursion in China’s intimidation against Taiwan and sent fears across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan has been in a longstanding dispute with mainland China since a separate government was established on the island following the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
The nation remains an important ally of Western countries due to its close proximity to Communist China.
Fears have erupted over recent months that under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing will use military force to reunify Taiwan with mainland China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said last month: “I wish to emphasise that abiding by the One China principle is one of the things that is key to China-Australia relations.
“Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory which cannot be separated.
“The Taiwan issue is entirely China’s internal affair and is related to China’s core interests and we won’t accept any external forces meddling or interfering in this.”
It was 25 years since the last crisis in the Taiwan Strait when the US sent two aircraft carrier groups to stop China from disrupting the island’s first fully democratic presidential election.
Rear Admiral Jim Ellis, the commander of the battlegroup, told the Times: “They [China] swore that it would never happen again, and they’ve now fairly successfully been able to craft a strategy that would make it much more challenging and much more difficult.
“China’s gone from ‘bide our time’ to ‘this is our time’.
“There are fewer and fewer inhibitions.”
On Monday, NATO warned China posed “systemic challenges” to the rules-based international order.
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Beijing retaliated and called the statement “slander of China’s peaceful development”.
Pressure is mounting on ‘Quad’ members – including Australia, Japan, India and the US – to counter against China’s dominance over Taiwan.
Earlier this month, the UK deployed HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Indo-Pacific region in a bid to aid in countering Beijing’s dominance.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned about China’s increasing maritime assertiveness and stressed troops would be “confident but not confrontational”.
Mr Wallace added: “We must stand up for our values and rights wherever they come under threat, not just in our backyard, but far from our shores.
“This deployment shows that we are strong on our own but even stronger with our allies.”
Back in April, Taiwan unveiled a new amphibious warfare ship to land troops in the contested South China Sea region.
The huge 10,600-tonne ship – named after Taiwan’s tallest mountain Yu-Shan – is the latest part of Taipei’s programme to modernise its armed forces amid growing tensions with Beijing in the South China Sea.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have escalated over recent months after China conducted military exercises close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
Back in January, a total of 15 Chinese aircraft including 12 fighter jets entered the southern part of Taiwan and Pratas Island.
A further eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets entered Taiwan’s ADIZ urging the nation to deploy missiles to “monitor” the incursion.
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