China using force against Taiwan counter-productive: ex-U.S. official

04/13/2021 09:27 PM
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A PLA Y-8 plane, one of the types of the Chinese military aircraft that entered Taiwan
A PLA Y-8 plane, one of the types of the Chinese military aircraft that entered Taiwan's ADIZ on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense

Singapore, April 13 (CNA) A former U.S. defense official said Tuesday that China's continuing military pressure on Taiwan is counter-productive amid the deteriorating cross-Taiwan Strait relations.

Drew Thompson, who served as director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2018, made the remarks when asked by CNA to comment on Beijing's decision a day earlier to send 25 military aircraft into the southwestern part of Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

It was the 10th consecutive day since April 3 that China had flown sorties into Taiwan's ADIZ and the number of aircraft was the highest in a single day since the nation's Ministry of National Defense began to publish the movements of Chinese aircraft near the country on its website on Sept. 17, 2020.

Thompson, who is now a visiting research fellow at the National University of Singapore, said Beijing's deployment of military aircraft near Taiwan's airspace on an almost daily basis shows its concern "about the deteriorating cross-strait relationship and perceived inability to influence calculations in Taiwan."

"Despite the fact that such shows of force alienate Taiwan's population, Beijing must feel it has no better options than to threaten the use of force to apply pressure on Taipei, however counter-productive," he said.

The record high incursion of Chinese military aircraft into Taiwan's ADIZ came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about China's aggressive actions toward Taiwan.

On Sunday, Blinken said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the U.S. is concerned about the increasingly aggressive actions by the government in Beijing directed at Taiwan, raising the tension in the strait.

"It would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change that status quo by force," Blinken warned.

Commenting on the potential for conflict between the U.S. and China in the Indo-Pacific region, Thompson told CNA that he believes it is not likely to happen.

"Neither side wants a military conflict and initiating one would be incredibly risky for Beijing, which I think makes it unlikely that either side would intentionally start a conflict," he said.

He said the two world powers have also invested in military risk-reduction activities, including agreements on rules of behavior and communication norms to reduce the risk of an incident or accident sparking a conflict.

(By Elaine Hou and Joseph Yeh)

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