Taiwan braces for conflict as China doubles air intrusions and US readies $500 million arms aid

For numerous months, the frequency of China's military aircraft intrusions into Taiwan's air defense zone has almost doubled. This escalation includes an increase in fighter jets and bomber missions, as Beijing amplifies its intimidation tactics towards the island democracy. Taiwan's foreign minister has expressed readiness for the potentiality of a conflict with China in 2027. To respond to this threat, the United States administration is preparing a $500 million weapons package for Taiwan.
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The United States has already delivered Stryker armored vehicles to Taiwanese armed forces. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

China's interest in invading Taiwan is driven by a combination of historical, political, and strategic factors. The complex history between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan can be traced back to the Chinese Civil War when the defeated Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan, while the Communist Party established the PRC in mainland China. Since then, both the PRC and Taiwan have claimed to be the legitimate government of all China.

The PRC upholds the "One-China policy," considering Taiwan as an integral part of its territory, and has never renounced the use of force to achieve reunification. Reuniting with Taiwan is viewed as a crucial step towards national unity and the fulfillment of its territorial claims.

Politically, Taiwan's thriving democracy contrasts with the PRC's one-party, authoritarian system. Taiwan's democratic success could be perceived as a challenge to the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party's rule in mainland China. By reunifying with Taiwan, the PRC would be able to exert direct control over the island's political system and eliminate this ideological contrast.

In terms of strategic and economic importance, Taiwan occupies a significant location in the Western Pacific, between the South and East China Seas. Gaining control of Taiwan would allow China to expand its military and economic influence in the region. Additionally, Taiwan is a global leader in the high-tech industry, particularly in semiconductor manufacturing. Acquiring these resources and capabilities could boost China's economic growth and global competitiveness.

In an open conflict, some Western experts predict that Taiwan could at best aim to slow a Chinese attack, try to prevent a shore landing by Chinese amphibious forces, and mount guerrilla strikes while waiting for outside help.

US intelligence suggests that China's leader, Xi Jinping, has directed the nation's military to prepare for the annexation of Taiwan by 2027. Taiwan, a democratic and self-governed island, is considered by China as a breakaway province that needs to be integrated with the mainland.

Taiwan braces for conflict as china doubles air intrusions and US readies 500 million arms aid 925 002
The military aid for Taiwan could include Javelin anti-tank missile weapon systems. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

Citing information published by International press agencies Reuters and Bloomberg, the Biden administration intends to provide Taiwan with $500 million in weapons assistance, employing the same emergency authority that has been utilized over 35 times for Ukraine, according to a source familiar with the proposal on May 5, 2023.

The U.S. government and its partners are becoming more apprehensive about the speed of China's military advancement. They caution that the nation's leaders aim for their military forces to be capable of invading Taiwan by 2027. China perceives Taiwan, which is governed democratically, as part of its own territory. Over the past three years, it has intensified military pressure on the island and has not ruled out the use of force to assert control over it.

In recent news, the Ministry of National Defense expressed gratitude for assistance from partner nations. Premier Chen Chien-jen emphasized the importance of Taiwan's ability to defend against an attack in order to prevent one from happening and stressed the need for enhancing defense capabilities.

Su Tzu-yun, a fellow at the Institute of National Defense and Security Research, mentioned that the $500 million aid could potentially procure 3,000 FGM-148 Javelin missiles, 6,000 FIM-92 Stinger missiles, 500 Harpoon missiles, or 120 Patriot PAC-3 missiles.