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U.S. scholar calls for U.S.-Taiwan military drills to counter China

2018/08/15 17:12:57

Photo courtesy of Reuters

Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) Amid China's increasing pressure on Taiwan, the United States and Taiwan should conduct joint military exercises now that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 has been signed into law, an American think tank scholar said in an article published Tuesday.

In the article published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), June Teufel Dreyer, a professor of political science at the University of Miami and a senior fellow in FPRI's Asia Program, said Beijing has adopted what might be called an "anaconda strategy" to force Taiwan to surrender.

The pace of the strategy includes diplomatic, economic and military efforts, as well as attempts to destabilize Taiwan society from within, Dreyer said.

Although the United States -- which is bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to maintain a balance of power in the Taiwan Strait -- has taken measures to show its concerns over China's increasing pressure on Taiwan, including accusing the Chinese government of "Orwellian nonsense" for controlling how U.S. airlines refer to Taiwan, U.S. responses have been largely symbolic, according to Dreyer.

"More needs to be done to counter the anaconda," she suggested, for instance, "the U.S. Navy should regularly send ships, including aircraft carrier battle groups, through the Taiwan Strait; its air force should conduct patrols in the area. Joint military exercises between the U.S. and Taiwan should become routine, with Taiwan invited to participate in the annual multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises."

For all of Beijing's bravado about its determination to defend sovereignty over Taiwan that it has never actually exercised, China will hesitate to attack the U.S. military for fear of escalation into an uncontrollable confrontation. "It could, however, punish Taiwan," Dreyer wrote in the article.

Chinese sources have warned of further actions, with Beijing's foreign supporters urging that Washington refrain from doing anything that might anger Beijing, she said.

American immobilism for fear of triggering a response plays exactly into the anaconda strategy -- a gradual tightening that will go on, Dreyer said.

Touching on U.S.-Taiwan relations, Dreyer said that although no high-profile visits or port calls have yet taken place, Taipei and Washington have signed an agreement to allow personnel of Taiwan's research institutions to visit national defense facilities and laboratories in the U.S., thereby benefiting Taiwan's ability to produce military vessels and aircraft. According to the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, Taiwan is to build submarines with U.S. help.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the national defense authorization act for fiscal 2019 act a day earlier, which includes provisions supporting the strengthening of Taiwan's armed forces.

Section 1259 of the act includes a statement that prohibits the secretary of defense from involving China in any RIMPAC naval exercises until he is able to certify to relevant congressional committees that China has ceased its land reclamation and related military activities for at least a four-year period.

(By Rita Cheng and Evelyn Kao)
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