US, Allies Must Surge Forces to Show Support to Taiwan

September 10, 2021 Updated: September 12, 2021

Commentary

America’s credibility lies in tatters following the defeat in Afghanistan. The Pentagon must surge forces to the seas off Southeast Asia and East Asia in cooperation with allied nations to send the message to China that the United States is down but not out. Afghanistan exposed America’s weakness, commentators in China’s media say.

The Chinese Communist Party propaganda outlet The Global Times warned Taiwan that the U.S. surrender in Afghanistan showed that Americans wouldn’t stand with the island.

Time is crucial.

This is especially necessary in light of China’s new law that demands foreign vessels in the South China Sea report their position to Chinese authorities because Beijing considers the sea to be its “territorial waters.” Thankfully, Australia is standing up to Beijing by sending warships to the South China Sea to guarantee freedom of navigation.

One way to send a message to Beijing is to send the USS Ronald Reagan battlegroup through the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait to challenge the new Chinese edict.

China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, delivered terse words at an event sponsored by the National Committee on U.S.–China Relations Board of Directors and to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger personally. Qin argued that Taiwan had been part of China since ancient times, even though China first asserted sovereignty over the island in 1683. It had previously been ruled by the Dutch and Spanish, and its native population.

“The Cold War is not too far in our memory. The conflict between major countries is just like yesterday. It would be absurd and dangerous to apply the ‘Cold War playbook’ to today’s China-U.S. relations, and to take China as its rival and imaginary enemy, just like when Don Quixote tilted at windmills. Is any country willing to take sides between China and America?” Qin asked.

“It is hoped that the U.S. side will exercise caution on issues concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Xizang, and the South China Sea, respect China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and avoid touching or challenging China’s red line [in the South China Sea].”

The new Maritime Traffic Safety Law (MTSL) requires Chinese pilots to board oil tankers and other vessels that transit through the South China Sea, which international law regards as international waters under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China authorized the use of live ammunition by Chinese coast guard vessels against fishing vessels entering contested areas.

The Pentagon refuses to back down with its ongoing freedom-of-navigation patrols.

“The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners told Stars and Stripes recently.

Taiwan’s defense ministry warned that China can “paralyze” the island’s defenses and use “soft and hard attacks” to shut down communications in the island chain that runs between Japan and The Philippines. China can use “its internet army to launch wired and wireless attacks against the global internet, which would initially paralyse our air defences, command of the sea and counter-attack system abilities, presenting a huge threat to us,” Reuters reported the defense ministry analysis as stating.

China’s own GPS and regular use of spy planes could be used to monitor all military activities on the island.

Chinese spies could launch a “decapitation strike” to destroy the island’s political and economic infrastructure, the report said.

President Joe Biden authorized a $750 million arms agreement with Taiwan for 40 M-109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers at the same time he was in the process of surrendering to the Taliban last month.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is taxing Taiwan’s air force with its continual incursions into Taiwanese air space. So far this year, there have been 435 incursions, and the response has cost Taiwan nearly $1 billion in terms of operational and facility requirements. It also taxes Taiwan’s planes in terms of wear and tear.

“The air force also needs to buy new parts and facilities for its aircraft to make sure that its fleet remains in good condition,” Su Tzu-yun, a senior analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defence and Security Research, told the South China Morning Post.

This is a time of peril. China will pocket every show of weakness. The Biden administration must work with allies including Japan, Australia, India, The Philippines, Vietnam, and others to beef up military activity in the region to show China that hostile actions against Taiwan will be met with force.

On Aug. 17, China’s Eastern Theater Command deployed warships, anti-submarine aircraft, and fighter planes as part of an exercise in the seas and airspace southwest and southeast of Taiwan. China held this exercise to send the message that it intends to defend its claims to sovereignty over the waters around Taiwan against the United States and its allies, Eastern Theater Command spokesman Shi Yi said.

The United States should organize additional naval exercises in the region. Last month, China’s defense ministry protested the presence of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter in the Taiwan Strait. The Biden administration should press ahead with cooperation with the Taiwanese coast guard in the wake of the agreement between the United States and Taiwan reached last March.

China clearly feels threatened by Japan’s increased military budget. The Global Times warned in an article about Japan’s increasing military budget that Japan would “suffer massive retaliation” if it intervenes on behalf of Taiwan in the event of an invasion. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) moved a warship to the east of Taiwan as a reminder to both Japan and Taiwan.

The United States should also consider permanently basing a second carrier battlegroup in Japan to counter China’s looming launch of its Type 003 carrier, which is expected to enter service by 2025.

Submarine exercises should also be held to remind the CCP that the United States can launch massed cruise-missile strikes against targets in China with impunity and that it can wage unrestricted submarine warfare against Chinese shipping in a time of war.

A strong challenge merits a stronger response. A U.S. and allied operation in support of Taiwan would send the message to Beijing that Taiwan is not alone.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Rossomando is a senior analyst for defense policy at the Center for Security Policy and served as senior analyst for counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years.