By Hu Yidao and Zhan Podao
"The People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducts real combat exercises across the Taiwan Strait and its northern and southern ends." This news released by a spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command on August 13 has drawn great attention.
Just as former Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou has said, the Chinese mainland's offensive on Taiwan would possibly be accomplished in a single battle within a short period of time. If the PLA really launches military operations against Taiwan, it is capable of launching a general offensive from all directions across the Taiwan Strait, forming a strategic posture to take over the island by the hour.
Therefore, the exercises held by the PLA Eastern Theater Command send an unmistakable message: the military pressure of the Chinese mainland heaped on Taiwan is sure to increase with increasing collusion between the US and Taiwan. As long as Taiwan and the US can withstand the deterioration of military situation across the Taiwan Strait, China is not afraid of the shocking consequences thereby resulted. Regardless of the US military assistance to Taiwan or the strength of the US military, the determination of the PLA and the strong will of the Chinese people can never be swayed and defeated.
Recently, taking advantage of the intensified strategic competition between China and the US, Taiwan and the US have been constantly coming closer and engaged in "salami-slicing tactics", seeking their own political interests at the expense of the Chinese mainland’s core interests. Definitely, China will not let things drift. There is no doubt that the exercises launched by the PLA Eastern Theater Command are a clear warning sent to both Taiwan and the US.
On the one hand, this move demonstrates that the PLA's military strength has been greatly enhanced, it is capable of launching military strikes against "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces from any direction across the Taiwan Strait, and securing a full-scale strike across the board.
On the other hand, this also shows that China has stayed restraint and reason. Firstly, this is a piece of news released by a spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command rather than the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of National Defense. Obviously, the move is limited to a joint operation within the PLA Eastern Theater Command, meaning this is a "low-key approach" to the affair. Secondly, the exercises are significantly smaller in terms of scale, compared with the large-scale military exercises and trial fire of missiles during the Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1996.
The PLA actually has more options to impose military pressure, including fighter jets flying around the island, and even flying over Taiwan Island, testing ballistic missiles over the Taiwan Island, and carrying out military exercises in the eastern waters of Taiwan.
Next, it depends on whether the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities could accurately interpret the signal and rein in on the brink of the precipice in a timely manner. It is up to the DPP authorities to choose between a Taiwan of peaceful development and one involved in severe military confrontation across the Strait, even with the final breakout of war to be ignited by only one spark.
Surely, some experts still hold that although a series of vicious interactions triggered by the US and Taiwan has dramatically escalated the situation across the Strait, there is still little possibility of a large-scale military conflict.
Disclaimer: This article is originally published on WeChat Official Account: Buyidao and translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.