China Flexes Military Muscle After US Senators Visit Taiwan

June 11, 2021 Updated: June 11, 2021

Beijing recently ramped up its warmongering rhetoric against its democratic neighbor Taiwan, following a recent visit by three U.S. senators to the self-ruled island.

Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), made a three-hour stop in Taiwan on June 6 to announce that the United States would donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to the island. Prior to the announcement, the Taiwanese government has repeatedly slammed Beijing for interfering in its efforts to buy vaccines from major COVID-19 vaccine makers.

Two days after the senators’ trip, on June 8, the Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced on its WeChat account that its 72nd Group Army recently held a military exercise in the waters off the coast of southern China’s Fujian Province. The exercise, involving landing ships and ambitious vehicles, was aimed at improving the unit’s amphibious abilities.

Also on June 8, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, told local media that the senators’ trip to Taiwan was a “political show” and a “vile political provocation” against China. Wu also accused the United States of “seriously undermining” the stability of the Taiwan Strait.

Without naming any country, Wu threatened that anyone who dared to “split Taiwan from China” would see a “resolute attack head-on” from the Chinese military.

In an article published on June 9, China’s hawkish mouthpiece Global Times claimed that any PLA exercise should not be seen as merely a “deterrence move.” In fact, Beijing was preparing to win “any possible military conflicts in the future.” The same article also boasted China’s ever-increasing amphibious warfare capability.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sees Taiwan as a part of its territory despite the fact that the self-ruled island is a de-facto independent country—with its own democratically-elected government, military, constitution, and currency.

As a result, Beijing opposes any government from establishing ties with Taipei or interacting with Taiwanese government officials.

Last year, Beijing also reacted angrily when two Trump administration officials visited Taiwan—Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and former Under Secretary of State Keith Krach.

Washington currently has no diplomatic ties with Taipei but has been the island’s main weapons supplier in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

On June 7, U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) took to her Twitter account to say that Beijing should stay out of any interactions between Washington and Taipei.

“Americans are allowed to travel to #Taiwan whenever they want and the #CCP has no control or right dictating to a US Congressional delegation visiting the country,” she wrote.

Taiwan, which sits 81 miles off the coast of China, has been upgrading its military defense capacities to thwart any invasion attempt by Beijing. Some China experts have stated that the Chinese invasion is a real possibility in the near future—perhaps within the next three years.

In March, Adm. Philip Davidson, who was then-head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned during a Senate hearing that the communist regime could invade Taiwan in the “next six years.”

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer