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Taiwan invasion fears grow after China rehearsed blockade

Concerns about the possibility of a Taiwan invasion by China have grown, as more details have come to light about Beijing’s stance.

The main concern, of course, is the safety and human rights of Taiwanese residents, but the situation does also have the potential for substantial disruption to production of Apple products …

Background

We reported earlier this week that Pelosi had met with Apple chipmaker TSMC during her visit, and it later emerged that she also met with iPhone assembler Pegatron.

A visit to Taiwan by the speaker for the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was intended to show US support at a time when there are increasing concerns about a possible invasion by China. It was designed to signal to Beijing that the US is serious in its legal commitment to help Taiwan defend itself against any military attack by China.

However, many expressed concern that the visit was more likely to provoke China than to deter it, and it’s become increasingly clear that this is indeed the case. It provoked military exercises by China, as well as disruptions to Apple’s supply chain.

Taiwan invasion fears grow

It’s now being reported by Reuters and others that Chinese military exercises in the Taiwan Strait were rehearsals for a blockade, and China has reiterated its desire for a “reunification” with Taiwan.

For the first time, the People’s Liberation Army practised operations aimed at a blockade of the island, the likely first step towards an invasion […]

The trip likely also resulted in a shift in China’s military calculations, analysts say. “This crisis strengthened the view in China that unification with Taiwan is probably only achievable through coercive means,” said Zhao Tong, a security scholar with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

It has also fuelled concerns about direct confrontation between China and the US.

As the dust settles […], the message is clear: the military will uphold China’s claim on the island in a challenge to the United States that will keep tension high and ramp up the risk of confrontation […]

For the first time, missiles flew over the island and ships crossed the unofficial median line in the Taiwan Strait, set down by the United States in the 1950s but never formally recognised by China.

Security analysts expect Chinese forces, particularly the navy, to maintain extensive patrols around Taiwan, pushing over the median line and establishing long-term dominance over the waterway.

Even before the exercises, China has claimed sovereignty over the strait, which the United States and Taiwan say is an international waterway […]

The White House has rejected any new status quo, and vowed that it will conduct air and maritime transits through the strait in coming weeks.

China has issued a white paper indicating a “preference” for a peaceful resolution, which security analysts say indicates a low likelihood of any imminent threat of invasion, but medium- and long-term risk to Taiwan’s independence currently look poor.

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