Straits drill to deter separatists
Editor’s note: The Chinese navy will hold a live-fire drill in the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday, days after it organized a large naval parade in the South China Sea. Two experts share their views on the navy drill with China Daily’s Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow: Help Taiwan compatriots but strictly deal with Tsai Cross-Straits relations have been at a low ebb due to the Democratic Progressive Party’s pursuit of “Taiwan independence” since it took office in May 2016, and have deteriorated further after the aggressive Lai Ching-te became the island’s executive head in September 2017.
In a way, therefore, the live-fire drill in the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday is the mainland’s response to those seeking “independence” of the island. And it is a warning that the situation will further worsen and the trouble mongers will face severe punishments once they cross the red line.
Ignoring people’s interests and achievements, which the previous government paid great heed to, the Tsai Ing-wen administra- tion on the island has refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus and thus jeopardized cross-Straits ties. So, while helping Taiwan compatriots with more favorable policies such as the latest 31 measures giving the Chinese mainland and Taiwan residents equal treatment, Beijing should deal with the Tsai administration with a firm hand and take measures to deter the separatists from creating more trouble.
As part of its political and economic agenda to curb China’s rise, the United States has been stirring up tension across the Straits in recent months by, for example, passing the Taiwan Travel Act that allows “mutual visits of all levels of officials” between Washington and Taipei, and promotes the construction of a new building for the American Institute Association in Taiwan.
Also, the military drill sends a message to the US that it should stop backing the separatists on the island, because once its wrong policies prompt the separatists to cross the red line, the situation could become very difficult for even the US to handle.
The mainland has repeatedly made it clear that it seeks peaceful cross-Straits relations but only under the one-China principle. And the live-fire drill is an important strategic step to warn Taiwan separatists that they should mend their ways. Military prowess can promote unification Military exercises are held primarily to enhance a military’s comprehensive combat capabili- ty. Apart from that, the live-fire drill in the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday is also aimed at preventing Taiwan “independence” seekers from causing more harm to national unity by crossing the red line.
The drill has to reach a certain scale to demonstrate Beijing’s resolve to deter the island’s separatists and safeguard national interests. But the fact that the military drill was announced by the Fujian Maritime Safety Administration rather than some higher level authority — since the waters are under the jurisdiction of Fujian province — indicate the mainland is treating the situation rationally, unlike the cross-Straits crisis in 1996. Although the separatists have been consistently making provocative moves, the mainland is still waiting for more rational voices on the island to rise in support of the 1992 Consensus.
It has always been a priority for Beijing to maintain peaceful and prosperous cross-Straits ties. On the one hand, Washington has never ceased to trigger tensions across the Straits to fulfill its own strategic interests, especially with Beijing making great progress on the economic and military fronts.
China follows the military principle of proactive defense, and its navy’s mission is to safeguard the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as to fulfill its international obligations. And to safeguard its national interests, China is developing its navy.
This should be a stern warning to the island’s separatists that they should desist from creating more trouble, and not forget that the US will abandon them lock, stock and barrel once tensions spiral out of control and they no longer serve its interests.
Li Zhenguang, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University
Wang Xiaoxuan, a Beijing-based expert on military affairs