The Taiwanese navy is on high alert as Beijing announced on Monday the continuation of its military exercises.
The unprecedented military exercises of the Chinese army, presented as a reaction to the visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, carried out in conjunction with other tactics of threats, intimidation and coercion, may have permanently changed the dynamics in the Taiwan Strait.
By using ballistic missiles and simulating an attack on Taiwan, China wanted to project to the international community the image of a modernized, powerful and combat-ready army in the Taiwan Strait. To invade Taiwan, but also to repel possible allies like Japan or the United States.
The People's Liberation Army of China has stepped up on several fronts and is setting precedents. The use of MLRS-type long-range artillery from Fujian wants to send the message of an ability to strike ''Russian style'', analyzes on his Twitter account Mathieu Duchâtel, public policy specialist at the Institut Montaigne. The firing of eleven ballistic missiles, including flying over the island of Taiwan, is calibrated to do more than in 1995-1996, but does not demonstrate any new capability.
The Chinese military conducted “joint practical exercises at sea and in the airspace surrounding the island of Taiwan on Sunday,” the Chinese military's Eastern Command said.
Dozens of Chinese military maneuvers have taken place near the median line in the Taiwan Strait and dozens of planes are said to have crossed it. The middle line is the unofficial border between China and Taiwan. If international law does not officially recognize this border, it was nevertheless traditionally respected.
China has always considered this demarcation to be imaginary and since 2020, it ignores it, claiming that the median line was imposed unilaterally by the Americans during the Cold War. The incursions have since multiplied and the Chinese army announces that it will henceforth carry out frequent exercises near this demarcation.
Crossings of the median line in the strait have become so frequent that the PLA [People's Liberation Army of China, editor's note] can now repeat everywhere that it no longer exists as a delimitation line for each other's operations, continues Mathieu Duchâtel. It is also the first time to my knowledge that China communicates on a crossing of the median line by buildings of its navy, usually it is mainly fighters of the air force.
Beijing presents Taiwan as part of its territory.
Because here, to prove how close it had come to the Taiwanese coast, the Chinese army released a photo taken, according to it, from one of its warships, where we see a Taiwanese power plant in the distance.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense denounced the claims as disinformation, adding that no Chinese ships entered its territorial waters during the military exercises.
There is military tension, but also a disinformation campaign and numerous cyberattacks, argued Ting Ting Liu, Taiwanese defense and foreign policy correspondent for the TVBS News channel during an interview with Radio-Canada on Thursday. There are several actions simultaneously.
In an interview strongly denounced by Taiwanese, the Chinese ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, not only affirmed the desire to reunify China and re-educate Taiwanese, he added on Sunday that Taiwan had always been part of China since 230 BC.
Analysts immediately recalled that part of Taiwan belonged to the Qing dynasty at the end of the 17th century, but that the island belonged to Japan from 1895 to 1945 and never to the current People's Republic of China.
Disinformation from China was also spreading on social networks and cyberattack attempts have multiplied since Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, a territory that Beijing considers to be its own and wishes to reunite.
The servers of several Taiwanese ministries have been targeted by hackers and the popular convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, has been the target of cyberattacks in an attempt to spread pro-China messages. Officials from several government agencies, even Taiwanese museums, have issued directives to their employees to monitor and prevent mass cyberattacks.
The Taiwanese government has been careful not to blame China directly for these online attacks, but many analysts believe that they are the work of Chinese hackers, tactics that are likely to persist in order to destabilize or insecure a party. of the public on the island.
At the same time, the noose continues to tighten on the Taiwanese economy and the consequences are already being felt. Economic sanctions announced by China last week on the import of products such as dried tea leaves, citrus fruits, dried fruits and two kinds of Taiwanese fish come on top of the bans already on grouper fish and mangoes.
In southern Taiwan, grouper farmers, banned from exporting to China for supposedly high levels of chemical contaminants, have been deprived of 80% of their market since June. They must find ways to sell their fish perceived as a luxury product.
They are eyeing the Canadian and American markets and are trying to find new outlets in Taiwan, but several breeders are anticipating losses this year and they are already planning to reduce the number of fish being farmed next year.
The Chinese fury expressed since last week is also scaring foreign companies. In order to protect its commercial interests in China, the Apple company requires that its suppliers no longer indicate made in Taiwan on their products. For its part, the American confectionery giant Mars Wrigley, has apologized to China for having presented Taiwan as a country in one of its advertisements for Snickers chocolate bars.
“It seems that in recent years, China's response to deepening ties between Taiwan and the United States has been to disproportionately punish Taiwan, so that Taiwan will have to bear the majority of the consequences [of Nancy Pelosi's visit].
— Jessica Drun, Researcher at the Atlantic Council Global China Hub
That said, I think the narrative that Taiwan is a pawn is overblown and co-opted by China to take away decision-making rights from the Taiwanese people who, on the whole, seemed generally supportive of the visit, Ms Drun adds. in an interview with Radio-Canada.
Commentators and political scientists believe that the military tension in the Taiwan Strait should decrease after the Chinese exercises even if the Taiwanese army will organize Tuesday and Thursday its own exercises. The pressures exerted on Taiwan will continue.
Our correspondent in Asia Philippe Leblanc will be based in Taiwan for the next few months, to help us discover this island up close of 24 million inhabitants, its society and the challenges that drive it. And also to cover current issues from the entire Asia-Pacific region.