Taiwan fired warning shots and live round at Chinese drones on Tuesday. The drones were sighted over the Taiwan-held Kinmen Islands — a group of islands less than 10 miles off the coast of mainland China. These events follow weeks of provocation by China.
Tensions have been rising since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) August 2 visit to Taiwan. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian remarked on Monday: “Chinese drones flying over China’s territory, what’s there to be surprised at?” This attitude is consistent with China’s denial of Taiwanese legitimacy.
In response, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry stated that “uninvited people are called thieves.” This hostile rhetoric highlights the rising tensions in the region.
Taiwan has preserved its independence for over seven decades. However, over the past twenty years, Chinese industrial, technological and military power has advanced rapidly. Paired with these advances has been an increased willingness to test the resolve of the West.
Chinese maneuvers in the South China Sea have persisted for years. And despite American support for Taiwan, they continue to occur.
Amid mounting Chinese aggression, Taiwan has made plans to increase its annual Defense Ministry budget by 12.9% next year. Improvements to anti-drone defenses are among the measures being taken.
Having retreated to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war in 1949, the exiled government has formed delicate ties with the United States. Although the U.S. does not officially recognize the country’s independence, it has granted its implicit support. Taiwanese pilots have even received training at Luke Air Force Base for over 25 years.
However, this is not simply a matter of preserving liberty in Asia, or of limiting Chinese power. Over half the world’s high-end processor chips are produced in Taiwan. The annexation of the island by China would not just be an ideological crisis — it would be an economic and strategic crisis.