Cross-strait tensions rose as China rejected new U.S.-Taiwan coast guard cooperation deal and deployed dozens of military aircraft in Taiwanese air zone. In their first major accord under U.S. Biden administration, U.S. and Taiwan 25 March established Coast Guard Working Group to “improve communications, build cooperation, and share information” on related matters; China next day denounced deal, warning Washington to “be cautious with its words and actions on Taiwan-related issues”. Beijing same day deployed 20 military aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zones (ADIZ), in largest ever incursion reported by Taiwan’s defence ministry since it started making public Chinese military plane movements in area in Sept 2020. China deployed further ten aircraft on 29 March. Prior to deal, Taiwanese defence ministry claimed series of Chinese military aircraft entered ADIZ, including: one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft 1, 10, 11, 14, and 17 March; one Shaanxi Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft 2 March; one Shaanxi Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft and one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft 4,8, and 15 March; two Chengdu J-10 fighter jets 22 March. In response, Taiwan scrambled jets, broadcast radio warnings and tracked planes with air defence system on each occasion. Taiwan Coast Guard Administration 1 and 9 March held live-fire artillery drill. Earlier in month, Chinese Premier of State Council Li Keqiang 5 March stated govt remained committed to “China’s reunification” and would “resolutely deter any separatist activity seeking Taiwan independence”; Taiwanese Mainland Affairs Council responded “healthy and orderly exchanges are better than enforced pressure”. Chinese FM Wang Yi 7 March said there was “no room for compromise or concessions” in China’s sovereignty claim over Taiwan and that U.S. should recognise this. U.S. and Japanese defence ministers 16 March agreed at meeting in Japanese capital Tokyo to cooperate closely in case of military clash between China and Taiwan. Taiwanese Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng 17 March confirmed that U.S. had approved export permits for sensitive technology for Taiwan’s indigenous submarine fleet. After Chinese ambassador in France warned French lawmakers against meetings with Taiwanese officials, French MFA 17 March stated that French parliamentarians were free to meet with whomever.
After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved.
Each side’s most preferred solution for resolving the continuing Taiwan Strait issue – in the case of Taipei, widely recognised de jure independence; and in the case of Beijing, reunification of China on the same ‘one country, two systems’ basis as Hong Kong – are both non-starters.
Apparently irreconcilable positions on the ‘one China’ principle have emerged between China and Taiwan over the last decade, with Taiwan for some time now asserting not only that it is a separate political entity but an independent sovereign country.
China's underlying position on its cross-Strait relations, however strong its current commitment to peaceful diplomacy, is that Taiwan must make sustained, visible progress toward a peaceful settlement or risk a resort to armed hostilities.
In the last decade, Taiwan has moved slowly but surely away from its commitment to the idea of ‘one China’, the proposition, long agreed on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, that Taiwan and the mainland are parts of one country.