Seoul: China’s military exercises show Beijing doesn’t need to invade Taiwan to control it — rather it can strangle the self-ruled island, cutting it off from the outside world, Chinese and American analysts say, media reports said.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drills, which officially began last Thursday, focused on six zones that essentially encircled Taiwan, restricting access to civilian ships and aircraft in the area, as forces conducted live-fire drills and missile launches, CNN reported.
Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the PLA National Defense University, said the six areas were chosen to show how China could cut off Taiwan’s ports, attack its most important military installations, and sever access for foreign forces that may come to Taiwan’s aid.
“Connect the six areas in a line, like a noose, with the knot of the noose right in the southwest direction,” Meng said in an interview with state-run broadcaster CCTV, CNN reported.
China’s Communist Party views democratic Taiwan as its territory — despite never having controlled it. Uniting Taiwan with the mainland is a cornerstone of Chinese policy and President Xi Jinping has not ruled out the use of force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.
Meng noted the northern exercise areas had successfully sealed off Taiwan from Okinawa, the island where both Japan and the United States base substantial military assets. In the southern areas, the PLA showed it could control the Bashi Channel, “the only way to enter and exit the South China Sea,” he said. And in the eastern areas, China’s forces showed that accurate Chinese missile fire could force foreign warships to back away from Taiwan’s waters, he added.
“This is an unprecedented encirclement of Taiwan Island,” Meng said, CNN reported.
And on Monday, China issued a notice to say drills were continuing.