If China and Taiwan Were To Go to War, Which Side Should Japan Take? Japanese Archipelago in a Position of Military Importance

149 Chinese Aircraft Entered Taiwanese Airspace over 4 Days

China’s military threats against Taiwan are intensifying.

According to an announcement by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, on Oct. 4, a total of 56 Chinese fighter jets and bombers entered the air defense identification zone (an airspace established outside Taiwan’s airspace for air defense) in southwest Taiwan. This is far more than the previous record of 39 aircraft on Oct. 2. In the end, the number of aircraft that entered the zone from Oct. 1-4 reached 149 in total.

Taiwan has responded to the threat by scrambling its aircraft, but the risk of an accidental collision between Taiwan’s scrambled aircraft and Chinese military aircraft is high. It has been pointed out that this could spark a war between Taiwan and China.

Why is China threatening Taiwan to this extent?

This time, the entry of Chinese military aircraft began on Oct. 1. This day corresponds to National Day in China. The People’s Daily newspaper Global Times (online version) has claimed, “The approach is a military parade celebrating National Day.” In Europe and the United States, some see it as a countermeasure to joint military exercises by Japan, the United States, Britain and Australia.

Whether it is a show of military power or a reaction to military exercises, China’s threatening behavior toward Taiwan is unacceptable.

American Military Leaders Fear China Could Invade Taiwan in 6 Years

The Biden administration recognizes China as its biggest military and economic competitor, and has taken the same stance as the previous Trump administration. There is no doubt that the U.S.-China conflict will further intensify China’s military threat to Taiwan. Taiwan has become a symbol of U.S.-China conflict.

Even though the U.S. is pressuring China with joint military exercises and the export of military aircraft to Taiwan, China is not flinching. This is because the Xi administration is serious. China has repeatedly asserted that Taiwan is part of China and that it is a core interest of China, and it strongly protests against criticism from other countries as interference in its internal affairs. The Xi administration wants Taiwan to fall prey to the Chinese Communist Party, just as Hong Kong’s democracy did.

If this trend continues, China is likely to invade Taiwan and seek annexation. As evidence of this, Philip Davidson, then commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, pointed out in March of this year that “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before then. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.”

President Xi Jinping also made this speech on Taiwan reunification: “The historical mission of unification must be realized, it can be achieved without failure. Taiwan will be covered by the one country and two systems principle, like Hong Kong and Macau.”

Xi’s speech was presented on Oct. 9 at a ceremony marking the 110th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution.

Chinese Military Strategy and Capabilities Show the Seriousness of the Xi Administration

China is currently working on a military strategy and capability called A2AD — Anti-Access, Area Denial — to prevent U.S. military intervention in case of Taiwanese emergency.

China is planning to block U.S. military operations inside the second island chain, from Japan’s Izu Islands to Guam, and to stop U.S. forces from entering inside the first island chain near China, which connects the Nansei (Ryukyu) Islands to the Philippines.

Taiwan is located inside this first archipelago line. China aims to protect the East and South China Sea and advance into the Pacific Ocean, which are important points from a geopolitical and military strategic point of view. This is why China wants to bring Taiwan under its control.

China is fully committed to its A2AD strategy, blocking the progress of U.S. troops into the airspace and waters around Taiwan and plotting to take military leadership.

The deployment of ballistic missiles intended as “U.S. Aircraft Carrier Killers” and “Guam U.S. Military Base Killers” in the range from 1,500 to 4,000 kilometers off the coast of mainland China are examples of this. In the future, the A2AD strategy will be based on three elements: detection, guidance and attack of enemy aircraft and ships by highly developed drones.

These show the seriousness of the Xi administration’s military strategy and capabilities.

If It Comes to a Taiwan Emergency, Japan Will No Longer Be at Peace

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is reviewing its deployment of troops and military strategies on bases such as Guam and Okinawa in order to respond to China’s A2AD strategy.

Specifically, according to the Force Design 2030 released by the U.S. Marine Corps in March last year, the U.S. Marine Corps will establish marine coastal regiments at bases in Okinawa and other bases in response to China’s expansion into the Nansei Islands’ waters, with the aim of decentralizing forces and making thorough use of drones.

As an anti-unmanned aerial vehicle operation, the communication frequency of the unmanned aerial vehicle is identified. Jamming radio waves are emitted, cutting off communications and disabling the Chinese drones. The U.S. aircraft carriers’ durability has been improved to prepare for attacks.

If China invades Taiwan and sparks a Taiwanese emergency, Japan will also not be at peace.

The distance from Taiwan, the battleground, to Yonaguni Island in the southwestern archipelago of Okinawa Prefecture, the westernmost point of Japan, is only 110 kilometers. Moreover, it has been pointed out for some time that if China were to invade Taiwan, there is a risk that it would militarily occupy the islands of Okinawa in advance and use them as a base for military operations.

For this reason, Japan is strengthening and developing Okinawa’s defense capabilities in preparation for an invasion by Chinese forces. The Ministry of Defense plans to deploy a Ground Self-Defense Force surface-to-ship and surface-to-air missile unit to Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture in fiscal 2022, and an electronic warfare unit to Yonaguni Island by 2023.

Chinese Forces Must Be Stopped from Advancing into the Pacific

Now think about the “upside-down map” of East Asian countries and the Sea of Japan used by the Defense Ministry in defense white papers, etc. This map is particularly useful for visualizing the Japanese archipelago from the Chinese mainland’s perspective.

In order for the Chinese navy to advance into the Pacific Ocean, it would have to cross the Japanese archipelago. It would have to pass through the Tsugaru Strait between Hokkaido and Honshu, the Osumi Strait between Cape Sata and Tanegashima in Kyushu, and the Miyako Strait between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island. The Japanese archipelago is not only militarily important in the case of an emergency in Taiwan.

In order to maintain international security, Japan is required to cooperate with the United States and other allies to prevent Chinese forces from advancing into the Pacific Ocean.

Military Tensions between China and Taiwan Are at Their Highest Level in More than 40 Years

As usual, let’s take a look at the editorials in the newspapers.

First, there was an editorial in the Sankei Shimbun dated Oct. 8. Under the headline, “China’s Threats to Taiwan: Stop the Unusual Entry of Military Aircraft.” The editorial said, “China’s Xi administration must not engage in dangerous military threats again, and must refrain from behavior that disturbs regional peace and stability.”

China’s intimidation of Taiwan is extremely dangerous. What does Xi think about international and regional peace and security? This is pathetic behavior from someone in a position of power.

The Sankei editorial points this out: “Taiwan’s Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng expressed a sense of crisis, saying that military tensions between China and Taiwan are at their highest level in more than 40 years. He analyzed the capabilities of the Chinese military, saying a full-scale invasion [of Taiwan] will be possible as early as 2025.”

The possibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is high, as the author has noted above.

The Sankei editorial added, “Chinese warplanes, including fighter jets and bombers, flew in formation to show off their ability to attack Taiwan, the Dongsha Atoll ruled by Taiwan, and ships of the U.S. Navy and other navies. The Chinese planes flew in at night as well as during the daytime.” The Sankei editorial further said, “The Chinese may want to use relentless military intimidation to bring the Taiwanese people to their knees and annex Taiwan.”

There is no need to use the difficult word “annexation.” The point is that China wants to subjugate and control Taiwan.

China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory. This distorted Chinese claim has led to Taiwan’s inability to become a full member of the United Nations.

The Kishida Administration Should Show a Resolute Attitude

The Sankei editorial writes: “But Taiwan is poised to strengthen its opposition and improve its deterrence.” Premier Su Tseng-chang, who is equivalent to the (Japanese) prime minister, said, “We need to unite to prevent China from using force and strengthen our defense capabilities.” The United States plans to cooperate.

The author supports Taiwan. Taiwan should fight China by making good use of the military and economic power of the United States, which is willing to cooperate. However, I want them to avoid actual battles. Taiwan should take military action only for deterrence.

At the same time, Taiwan should take advantage of international conferences where democratic countries such as Japan, the U.S. and the U.K. gather to continue to strongly call out China’s inhumanity. Even if it is not a strong punch, a series of jabs will fatigue the opponent. A relentless appeal to the international community will surely be successful.

Finally, the Sankei editorial touches on Japan’s response, noting that: “‘I would like to refrain from commenting on every move,’ Hirokazu Matsuno, Chief Cabinet Secretary, said. ‘It is important for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and we are watching the situation closely.’ I would like Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to make it clear that China’s actions are unacceptable.”

The author feels that this is not enough. No matter how one looks at it, China’s threat to Taiwan is “nothing short of extraordinary,” according to Sankei. The Kishida administration should take a firm stand.

Attempting To Justify by Repeatedly Executing Distorted Acts

The Asahi Shimbun’s editorial on Oct. 7 ran with the headline, “We Are Concerned by the Dangerous Provocation in the Taiwan Strait,” and went on to write: “For global security, the Taiwan Strait is considered one of the most important and dangerous flash points. It’s a sea of tensions that requires the utmost attention and vigilance for the fates of the three major economies of the United States, China and Japan.”

The Taiwan Strait is located between Fujian Province in southeastern China and the island of Taiwan. Although it is 380 kilometers long from north to south, it is only 130 kilometers wide from east to west at its narrowest point. Because of its proximity, it is truly a tense sea area and is a matter of global security.

The Asahi editorial asserts: “Without saying anything, [the Xi administration] poses a threat to the people of Taiwan. They will try to normalize their intent by repeated invasion-like incidents. Using such a method to pressure the Tsai Ing-wen administration will undermine the stability of the region. We should stop it immediately.”

“Without saying anything” means that China refuses to explain why military aircraft entered the Taiwanese air defense identification zone. However, if Japan were to suffer this repeatedly, as has Taiwan, the people of Japan would feel anxious. This is one of China’s aims. Furthermore, the Chinese approach is to justify distorted behavior by executing it repeatedly. The government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen should explain this point to the public and ask for understanding, to relieve anxiety as much as possible. Diplomacy here is key to domestic administration.

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