Dozens of fighter planes daily fly over the central line of the Taiwan Strait and warships roaming the coastal waters represent a grave and ominous change to the status quo, with enormous implications for Taiwan’s future defense. experts say it can give said the official.

Pushing these fighters over the line not only erases the former boundaries, but cooperating with warships and avoiding missiles flying close together is a huge undertaking for a modern military to perfect. It’s the kind of real-time interaction that takes a lot of time and effort. , famous for confusing Russians in Ukraine. Coordinating these systems while looking at Taiwan’s reaction will yield important knowledge of both Beijing’s capabilities and preparedness should Beijing launch a military strike against Taiwan or American interests in the Pacific.

China’s military planners say Taiwan has activated missile defense radars and moved troops and equipment around the island, giving Beijing important insight into how it would react in times of war. There is no doubt that the reaction to their efforts has been absorbed.

Randy Schreiber, the Pentagon’s top Asian policy officer in the Trump administration, said China’s training so far “was more like driving a new car over and over instead of taking it to the highway.” rice field. “Island’s adjusted bracket is the kind of exercise that’s better suited for an actual attack.”

So far, the United States has said little and publicly withheld from the exercises, while keeping the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group in the region. The amphibious ship Tripoli is near Okinawa, and the amphibious ship America is in the East China Sea. Both carry her F-35 fighter jets.

More importantly, it’s a glimpse into how China deploys and uses its military. Colin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s Defense Strategic Institute, said it was likely to be “jackpot information” that could provide insight into “the strengths and weaknesses of PLA mobilization.”

These peeks were “pre-planned in mainland China about how the PLA will prosecute future aggression against Taiwan, or more generally how it will conduct large-scale military operations. It would give a better picture than the exercise,” added Koh.

Defense officials said the military is closely monitoring the exercises, but has generally remained silent on China’s actions. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated this week that the United States does not want conflict with China.

“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response,” Secretary of State Antony Brinken said during a visit to Cambodia on Friday, adding that China’s move was “a major escalation” in the region. There is,” he added.

Although the Chinese military has tested missiles for years, launch crews have never worked in operational scenarios that have to deal with the complexities of military and civilian air and sea traffic. Land safely in the designated water area.

Ahead of this week’s live-fire exercises, Beijing has released a map of the six zones it plans to conduct exercises in, forming a virtual ring around Taiwan. Missiles were launched and scattered across the waters to the northeast, east, and southeast of the island. Some landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, while others flew over Taiwan, an unprecedented move.

China sent 30 fighter jets across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait in half on Friday, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry. The move “endangered the status quo in the Strait,” the official tweeted, noting that Taipei responded by activating aircraft and ship scrambling, surveillance and anti-aircraft. missile system.

“We condemn such actions that have disrupted the surrounding airspace and waters and will continue to ensure democracy and freedom without threat,” the ministry said on Twitter.

The training may have been designed as an intimidation, but the highly choreographed and coordinated movements are much more complex than previous power shows.

“This is multiple shots aimed at different enclosed areas in specific ways, more like if you were actually using missiles to hit Taiwan,” he said.

The exercise is also an opportunity for China to find out whether Taiwan’s air defense system was able to intercept the missile launch and how Taiwan’s civil defense system would respond to an attack, Schriver said.

“They probably know, Taiwan’s air defenses picked us up? Did they light us up with fire control radar?” he said.

The exercise provided an opportunity not only to test whether missiles could hit targets in operational scenarios, but also whether Chinese ships and aircraft could effectively blockade the island through military action.

The last time China made a move of this magnitude around Taiwan was in 1996, when Beijing launched a missile into the Taiwan Strait in anger at Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the United States to give a speech on Taiwan’s democratization. It is time.

But today’s modernized Chinese military bears little resemblance to that of 1996, with new missiles, the world’s largest navy, two aircraft carriers, and a fighting force that rivals Taiwan’s F-16s and U.S. carrier-based aircraft. I am proud of the machine.

“The PLA at the time could not have done this,” said Ronnie Henry, a lecturer at George Washington University and a former East Asian Defense Intelligence Officer.

“What the PLA is doing is completely routine for the PLA to do these days,” Henry added. “They are just doing them all at once, encircling Taiwan, rather than spread out over several months in several training areas across the East and South China Seas.”

But Taiwan has not sat on that hand for decades. For years it has been buying US F-16 fighter jets and other equipment, with the goal of turning the island into a “porcupine” in late 2020 to better deter or resist Chinese aggression. A series of arms deals with Washington about highly sophisticated systems such as The deal included four armed MQ-9B drones, 11 high-mobility artillery rocket systems (the same weapons Ukraine has made famous), and Harpoon ship-destroying missiles.

But Taiwan and the US military are now, for the first time, seeing signs that they may soon have to fight.

Decades of carefully planned training exercises are very different from rapid military operations in unpredictable environments. This latest crisis brings China closest to the real world and its complexities. Readiness exercises allow the PLA to test and validate the achievements of the “modernization” efforts and reforms that have been carried out over the past decades,” Ko said.

“This latest Taiwan Strait crisis provides an opportunity to assess their capabilities and identify weaknesses that need to be addressed,” he added. “The PLA is likely to gather a lot of information about itself in the process.”

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