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China launched three-day military drills in response to meeting between President Tsai and U.S. House Speaker, fuelling temporary uptick in tensions.
China launched military drills as President Tsai met Speaker McCarthy. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen 5 April met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, where both reaffirmed strong partnership between countries. In response, China 8-10 April held military exercises around Taiwan; notably, Taiwan 10 April recorded 91 Chinese military aircraft and 12 naval ships around island, with record high 54 aircraft crossing unofficial demarcation “median line”. China’s reaction was relatively muted in comparison to military drills held in response to Speaker Pelosi’s visit in Aug 2022. Chinese military activity continued during month: as of 28 April, Taiwan detected 548 Chinese military aircraft in its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) and recorded 148 sightings of Chinese vessels in surrounding waters. French Navy frigate 8-10 April and U.S. guided missile destroyer 16 April transited Taiwan Strait; U.S. Navy P8-A Poseidon patrol plane 28 April flew through strait.
China protested U.S. support for Taiwan, Europe debated its role. China 14 April announced sanctions on U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul for his recent visit to Taiwan. Beijing 19 April opposed Taiwan’s purchase of 400 Harpoon missiles from U.S. Following his state visit to China 5-8 April, French President Macron triggered controversy with remarks that France and Europe should not be drawn into conflict over Taiwan by U.S.; German FM Annalena Baerbock 13 April said conflict over Taiwan will have disastrous consequences and Europe cannot afford to be indifferent.
Former Taiwanese president concluded historic China visit, Taiwan's election campaigning picked up speed. Former Taiwanese President and opposition party Kuomintang member Ma Ying-Jeou 27 March-7 April visited China, becoming first former or current Taiwanese leader to visit mainland China since civil war; trip highlighted different approaches of Taiwan’s two main political parties with regards to cross-strait relations ahead of presidential election slated for Jan 2024. Meanwhile, Foxconn founder Terry Gou 18 April announced bid to become Kuomintang’s presidential candidate, while current Taiwan VP William Lai was officially confirmed as ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate.
China continued aerial and maritime activity around island, while Taiwan’s President Tsai visited U.S. as Beijing vowed retaliation over possible meeting with U.S. House Speaker.
China continued military activities in Taiwan Strait. As of 26 March, Taiwan detected 316 Chinese military aircraft entering its Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), of which at least 117 crossed unofficial demarcation “median line” or were detected in south west ADIZ; Taiwan detected 92 Chinese naval vessels in surrounding waters. Taiwan’s defence minister 6 March warned of China’s potential “sudden entry” into areas close to island amid rising tensions. Taiwan 8 March said it suspected Chinese ships of cutting internet cables to outlying Matsu Island.
President Tsai’s stopover in U.S. prompted Beijing’s warnings. Tsai 29 March arrived in U.S., en route to Guatemala and Belize, and is expected to meet U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in early April; Beijing late March threatened “serious confrontation” and to “fight back” if meeting goes ahead, raising prospect of China increasing military or economic pressure on Taiwan. Earlier, U.S. 3 March approved package for Taiwan worth $619mn related to F-16 fighter jets. Taiwan 7 March announced $236mn deal with U.S. arms company to refurbish Taiwan’s tank fleet and 18 March $47.1mn deal with U.S. related to Apache helicopters. U.S. House of Representatives’s Committee on Foreign Affairs 1 March approved bill supporting Taiwan’s inclusion in International Civil Aviation Organization; U.S. Congress 10 March introduced bill for U.S. to lend or lease material support for Taiwan’s national defence.
Beijing emphasised peaceful cross-strait relations, Honduras sought ties with China. Chinese leader Xi Jinping 13 March said peaceful development of cross-strait relations will be actively promoted and vowed to oppose all external interference and Taiwan’s separatist activities. Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou 27 March began visit to China, making him first former or sitting president to visit mainland. Meanwhile, Honduras – one of 14 states that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan – 16 March announced it will seek official ties with Beijing, ending recognition of Taiwan. Separately, Taiwan’s Election Commission 10 March set general election for 13 Jan 2024.
China maintained frequent aerial and maritime activity around island, while opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) went to China, and U.S. and Taiwan exchanged visits by senior officials.
China continued military presence around island. As of 27 Feb, Taiwan detected 311 Chinese military aircraft entering its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) during month, of which at least 110 either crossed unofficial maritime demarcation known as “median line” or were detected in south-western ADIZ near strategic Bashi Channel; Taiwan reported 109 sightings of Chinese naval vessels in surrounding waters in course of month. Notably, Taiwan 1 Feb activated missile systems and scrambled jets in response to operations by 34 Chinese military aircraft and nine warships, including 20 aircraft crossing median line.
Taiwan opposition delegation visited China. Ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election in Jan 2024, main opposition party KMT’s Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia 8-17 Feb led delegation to China, meeting with newly appointed Director of Taiwan Affairs Office Song Tao and China’s top Taiwan affairs official Wang Huning; KMT said visit concerned needs of Taiwanese based in China, Chinese business regulations and developing ties with Chinese officials; Song and Wang both expressed China’s desire to enhance mutual trust and cooperation with KMT on basis of “1992 consensus”. Shanghai’s Taiwan Affairs Office officials 18-20 Feb visited Taiwan following invitation by Taipei city authorities, marking first visit by Chinese officials to Taiwan since borders reopened last Oct.
Taiwan and U.S. continued defence ties and exchanged visits by senior officials. Taiwan 8 Feb signed two contracts with U.S. worth total of $85mn to maintain its fleet of F-16 fighter jets. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Chase 17 Feb arrived in Taiwan, marking visit by most senior U.S. defence official since 2019. Bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation 21 Feb met President Tsai, who confirmed two countries “continue to bolster military exchanges”. Reports late month indicated U.S. looking to expand its small troop presence in Taiwan to help train Taiwanese forces. FM Joseph Wu and National Security Council Sec Gen Wellington Ku 23 Feb visited Washington for security dialogue with senior U.S. officials, including Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman.
China maintained frequent aerial and maritime activity around island, while Taiwan’s ruling party appointed new leader ahead of 2024 election.
China continued military presence around island. China 8 Jan announced military drill around Taiwan practicing land attack and sea assault. As of 30 Jan, Taiwan detected 346 Chinese aircraft entering Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), of which at least 119 either crossed unofficial maritime demarcation known as “median line” or were detected in south west ADIZ near strategic Bashi Channel; Taiwan reported 104 sightings of Chinese vessels in surrounding waters. In first transit of 2023, U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chung Hoon 6 Jan transited through Taiwan Strait. In New Year’s message, newly appointed head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 2 Jan reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to “peaceful reunification and one country two systems on the condition of One-China principle and 1992 consensus”; Taiwan same day responded Beijing must stop military coercion and imposing political frameworks.
Taiwan continued active engagement with partners. U.S. and Taiwan 17 Jan concluded second-round talks on Initiative on 21st Century Trade, which will lay groundwork for de facto free trade agreement; U.S. said that both sides have “reached consensus in a number of areas” covering trade “facilitation”, anti-corruption, small and medium-sized enterprises and regulatory practices. German and Lithuanian parliamentary delegations 9 Jan arrived in Taiwan. President Tsai 30 Jan held telephone call with Czech President-elect Petr Pavel in which pair highlighted countries’ shared values.
Ruling party prepared for upcoming polls. Ahead of presidential elections scheduled for Jan 2024, VP Lai Ching-te 16 Jan took over as new chief of ruling Democratic Progressive Party after Tsai stepped down following bad showing at local elections; Lai vowed to continue to follow Tsai’s approach to maintain status quo and reiterated that there is no need to declare independence for Taiwan.
China maintained frequent aerial and maritime activity around island, including largest-scale single day aerial incursion this year, while U.S. continued military support for Taiwan.
China continued military presence around island and coercive trade practices. At least 472 Chinese military aircraft were detected entering Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) during month, of which at least 191 either crossed unofficial maritime demarcation known as “median line” or were detected in south west of ADIZ near strategic Bashi Channel; Taiwan reported 112 sightings of Chinese navy vessels in surrounding waters. Notably, China 27 Dec sent 71 warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ, of which 47 crossed the median line – marking biggest number in single day reported this year. Policy chief of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party Koichi Hagiuda same day became most senior member of ruling party to visit Taiwan in 19 years; Haguida remarked that Beijing should refrain from using force to change status quo. China 10 Dec suspended shipments of seafood, beer, liquor and other beverages from key suppliers from Taiwan, citing failure to comply with new customs registration system introduced last year; move is widely seen as latest attempt to economically coerce Taiwan. Taiwan 27 Dec announced extension of its conscription military service from current four months to one year, which will come into effect in Jan 2024.
U.S. continued militarily supporting Taiwan. U.S. Congress 8 Dec passed National Defense Authorisation Act, which will provide as much as $10bn loan to Taiwan over five years to acquire weapons in bid to enhance its defence capability against China; Beijing responded that it “firmly reject[s] the negative content about China from the bill” and urged U.S. to stop using Taiwan to contain China. Canada’s FM Melanie Joly 5 Dec said Ottawa plans to send more warships through Taiwan Strait, as it aims to play bigger role in Indo-Pacific; Canada recently launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy in which it described China as “increasingly disruptive power”.
Military activities around island continued as China maintained frequent aerial and maritime incursions, while U.S. and Chinese presidents discussed Taiwan in first face-to-face meeting.
China continued military presence around island as U.S vessel transited strait. As of Nov 20, Taiwan detected 436 Chinese aircraft entering its Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), of which estimated 170 either crossed unofficial demarcation “median line” or entered south-western ADIZ; Chinese naval vessels in surrounding waters were sighted 98 times. U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold 5 Nov sailed through Taiwan Strait; Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet 20 Nov said that U.S. has been sending warships through strait approximately every month. Meanwhile, Taiwan 7 Nov began its annual “Sky Dragon” military drills involving aerial combat exercises and ground-based support operations over six days, while Taiwan’s army 19 Nov conducted live-fire drill on outlying Penghu Islands; routine drills are expected to be held monthly in response to growing intimidations from China.
U.S. and China leaders held first face-to-face meeting, agreeing to manage Taiwan differences. In bilateral meeting at G20 summit, U.S. President Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping 14 Nov agreed to manage their differences and competition, including on question of Taiwan; Xi said that Taiwan is “at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations”, while Biden reportedly expressed objections to Beijing’s coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan. Taiwan same day thanked Biden for reiterating U.S. support. Taiwan and U.S. 16 Nov reportedly signed deal to maintain long-range early-warning radar systems. U.S. and China defence chiefs 22 Nov met and agreed to improve communication channels and crisis management mechanism, suspended since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August.
China’s President Xi reiterated goal of reunification, if necessary by force, as Beijing continued high level of aerial activity around island.
China and Taiwan stated respective positions on island’s status. In his speech at opening of 20th Party Congress, Chinese President Xi 16 Oct said China will strive for peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but it will never promise to renounce use of force and it reserves option of taking all necessary measures; he warned of “interference by external forces”. In response, Taiwan’s President Tsai same day reiterated Taiwan’s “territorial sovereignty, independence and democracy cannot be compromised” and “military conflict is not an option”. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 26 Oct said Beijing had decided “status quo was no longer acceptable”. Earlier, Tsai’s 10 Oct expressed willingness to work with Beijing “to find a mutually agreeable arrangement”, potentially signalling Taipei’s goodwill to improve cross-straits relations. As of 30 Oct, 425 Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ); 97 aircraft crossed unofficial demarcation known as median line. Chinese naval vessels were sighted 104 times during month.
U.S. reportedly sought deeper defence cooperation with Taiwan. Nikkei Asia media outlet 19 Oct announced U.S. was considering plan for joint weapons production with Taiwan as part of broader move towards greater security assistance; announcement came after Taiwan 1 Oct commissioned largest locally built ship, 10,600-ton amphibious vessel Yu Shan, in significant milestone in govt’s effort to boost indigenous defence production. German-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman Klaus-Peter Willsch 2 Oct commenced five-day visit to Taiwan; members of Bundestag's Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid 23 Oct also visited.
China maintained high-level of incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone, while U.S. continued to signal strong support to Taipei as President Biden vowed to aid island in event of attack.China conducted daily aerial incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ). China dispatched 377 planes as of 21 Sept into Taiwan’s ADIZ; notably, 181 aircraft crossed unofficial demarcation known as median line, which has become near-daily routine since visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Aug. Chinese naval vessels were sighted 133 times in surrounding waters in Sept. Taiwan 1 Sept shot down Chinese civilian-operated drone in Kinmen county, off China’s Fujian province; Taiwanese military 5 Sept confirmed Chinese UAVs crossed median line for first time. U.S. and Canada 20 Sept held joint operation with destroyer USS Higgins and frigate HMCS Vancouver, transiting strait for second time in three weeks; China slammed exercise as provocative.U.S. representatives continued visits, U.S. legislators approved new Taiwan act and President Biden vowed to defend island. Following Pelosi’s 2 Aug visit, U.S. engagement remained high. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey 1 Sept and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy 8 Sept began visits. Five Taiwanese legislators 13 Sept visited U.S. capital for closed-door meetings with U.S. officials. Members of Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, hosted by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, 15 Sept called for greater support for Taiwan and expressed opposition to any unilateral change of status quo. U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee 15 Sept approved Taiwan Policy Act; Chairman Bob Menendez called it “most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy toward Taiwan since […] 1979”, with notable provisions including $6.5bn military aid to Taiwan through 2027; China same day said bill will “greatly shake the political foundation of China-U.S. relations” if passed. In fourth and clearest remark since assuming office, Biden 18 Sept said U.S. would defend Taiwan from any “unprecedented attack”. China 23 Sept accused U.S. of sending “very wrong, dangerous signals” during meeting with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken, who same day affirmed “long-standing one-China policy”.
Tensions soared as China conducted large-scale live-fire exercises around Taiwan as part of its multi-pronged response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to island. As U.S. congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi 2 Aug landed in Taiwan, China announced live-fire air-naval drills in six strategic maritime areas around Taiwan running 4-7 Aug and later extended to 10 Aug, with over 100 planes flying in first two days. Taiwanese defence ministry 3 Aug decried exercise as akin to blockade and claimed China fired 11 ballistic missiles into waters near Taiwan and over island for first time (some of which landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone – see China/Japan). Additionally, Chinese aerial incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone skyrocketed, totalling 751 planes 1-28 Aug with 337 crossing median line; Chinese naval vessels were sighted 173 times 5-28 Aug, with many vessels also crossing median line. Responding to surge in Chinese activities, Taiwanese troops 4 Aug fired warning flares at two drones spotted near Kinmen county, 10km from China’s Fujian province; 30 Aug fired warning shots at Chinese drone operating in same area. Taiwan 9, 11 Aug held live-fire artillery drills in Pingtung county and 17 Aug held fighter jet drill. Alongside military action, Taiwan govt websites suffered increased cyberattacks, and China 3 Aug banned imports of many Taiwanese goods. China 5 Aug imposed economic sanctions on Pelosi and her direct family, and same day cancelled eight planned dialogues with U.S., including theater command talks, defence policy coordination and climate change talks. U.S. 4 Aug called Chinese response overreaction and effort to “change a status quo”. G7 3 Aug condemned Beijing’s “aggressive military activity” and Japan, U.S. and Australia 7 Aug urged China to cease military exercises. China 15 Aug announced new round of joint combat readiness patrols around Taiwan following U.S. Democrat Senator Ed Markey's visit to island, and next day announced sanctions on ten Taiwanese political figures. Two U.S. warships, USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville, 28 Aug transited Taiwan Strait; Beijing said it was monitoring movement in comparatively restrained response. U.S. governor of Arizona 30 Aug visited island.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit in August raised risk of unintended crisis; Chinese aircraft continued incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone and made rare crossing of unofficial “median line”. Speculation over potential visit to Taiwan of U.S. Senator Nancy Pelosi during her regional tour that began 31 July significantly raised tensions between U.S. and China and risk of unintended crisis in Aug. China late month warned of military response and said visit would seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and political foundation of China-U.S. relations, as it 30 July announced live-fire drills off of Fujian province, which sits across from Taiwan. U.S. military assets, including aircraft carrier, were also moved closer to Taiwan at end of month. Meanwhile, Chinese incursions into Taiwanese air defence identification zone continued during month, totalling 70 aircraft as of 30 July. Notably, Taiwan 8 July scrambled jets and “forcefully expelled” Chinese fighters that crossed median line – unofficial and tacitly recognised demarcation in Taiwan Strait – in rare “provocative” act that coincided with U.S. Senator Rick Scott’s visit to Taiwan; Chinese military same day announced it had conducted joint combat readiness patrols and combat drills in sea and airspace around Taiwan in response to U.S. support for Taiwan independence. In 7 July joint chiefs of staff meeting between U.S. and China, China demanded U.S. “cease U.S.-Taiwan military collusion”, warned provocations against China’s core interests would “be met with a firm counter-attack”. In talks with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken, Chinese FM Wang Yi 9 July said U.S. should “stop hollowing out or distorting” one-China policy; Blinken same day said U.S. had no intention of supporting Taiwan independence or changing the status quo in Taiwan Strait. U.S. State Dept 15 July announced $108mn sale of arms to Taiwan; China 18 July demanded U.S. cancel sale. Former U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper 18 July visited Taiwan, and urged Washington to move away from policy of strategic ambiguity. EU Parliament VP Nicola Beer 19 July visited Taiwan, affirmed island as member of “family of democracies”.
China conducted third-largest aerial incursion into Taiwan’s air defence zone this year and vowed to fight at all costs if Taiwan pursued independence. Chinese incursions into Taiwanese airspace continued through month, totalling 81 planes as of 27 June. Notably, 29 aircraft 21 June entered air defence identification zone in third largest sortie this year; Taiwan same day scrambled jets to warn off Chinese aircraft. U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft 24 June flew over Taiwan Strait. Earlier, China’s Eastern Theatre Command 1 June conducted “joint combat-readiness patrol” around Taiwan, following large-scale exercise around island one week prior. U.S. 9 June approved $120mn arms deal to Taiwan in fourth such sale under U.S. Biden administration; China same day strongly condemned deal as violation of past U.S.-China agreements. U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin 10-12 June affirmed Biden administration’s unchanged Taiwan policy at Shangri-La Dialogue international summit held in Singapore and accused China of growing coercion; Austin also committed to strengthening “guardrails against conflict” by maintaining communication with Beijing. During meeting with Austin on sidelines of summit, Chinese Defence Minister Wei Feng reportedly said China would not hesitate to commence war if Taiwan pursued independence; Wei also publicly warned Chinese military will fight at all costs against Taiwan’s pursuit of independence. Chinese foreign ministry 13 June said “China enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait” and “there is no such thing as ‘international waters’ in [UN Convention on the Law of the Sea]”; U.S. same day affirmed Taiwan Strait is “international waterway”, while Taiwan next day rebuffed Beijing’s statement as “false claim”. Leader of Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party Eric Chu during visit to U.S. 6 June said that “1992 consensus” remains key to KMT engagement with Beijing, but both sides are free to interpret what “one China” means.
China continued incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone and conducted rare breach of unofficial median line, while U.S. President Biden vowed to intervene in event of attack. Chinese aircraft continued incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone through month, totalling 74 planes as of 19 May over 14 consecutive days; notably, 18 Chinese planes 6 May entered zone. Taiwanese defence authorities 5-8 May reported 31 aircraft sorties south east and south west of island, coinciding with Chinese Liaoning aircraft carrier group drill east of Taiwan, near Japan’s Okinawa islands. USS Port Royal 11 May transited Taiwan Strait in second such passage of U.S. vessel in two weeks. Taiwanese defence ministry same day reported rare crossing of Chinese attack helicopter over median line of strait. Taiwanese annual military exercises 17 May commenced simulating defence against possible Chinese invasion and incorporating lessons of Ukraine war. China continued to warn U.S. of rhetoric and actions supporting Taiwan. U.S. State Dept 5 May updated factsheet on its website without usual statement that U.S. “does not support Taiwan independence”; China urged U.S. to abide by “one-China principle”. Chinese Politburo official Yang Jiechi in 18 May phone call with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reiterated centrality of Taiwan issue in U.S.-China relations, warning recent U.S. actions have been “widely distant from its statements.” In notable statement during five-day trip to Asia, U.S. President Biden 23 May said U.S. was willing to intervene militarily to support Taiwan in event of attack; U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin same day confirmed “our One China policy has not changed” and that Biden’s statements reiterated “commitment…to help provide Taiwan the means to defend itself”. Chinese foreign ministry same day expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” over statements. Chinese military 25 May announced second large-scale military exercise around island. Meanwhile, media reports 1 May indicated U.S. and U.K. officials had held talks on contingency planning over conflict in Taiwan for first time. Taiwanese FM Joseph Wu 13 May revealed increasing talks with NATO and potential for greater cooperation.
U.S. maintained strong diplomatic and military support for Taiwan, while China responded with fiery rhetoric and continued aerial incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone. In third such package under Biden administration, U.S. State Department 6 April approved potential sale of military equipment, including Patriot Air Defence System, training and other services worth $95mn to support Taiwanese defence; China same day called arms sale violation of one-China principle. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cancelled 9 April Taiwan visit after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19; China had 7 April pledged to “resolutely fight back” if Pelosi visited. Six U.S. legislators 14 April visited Taiwan. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan 15 April said U.S. would “take every step we possibly can to ensure that [China’s invasion of Taiwan] never happens”; Chinese foreign ministry same day said “China must and will be reunified”. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai 18 April met Taiwanese Minister John Deng to review bilateral trade progress; Taiwan next day said it seeks to join U.S. Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Chinese military 15 April conducted destroyer-bomber joint patrol around Taiwan; state media same day said exercise was both warning to Pelosi over any future visit and preparation “for potential, real actions that would resolve the Taiwan question once and for all”. Chinese aircraft continued incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone throughout month, totalling 68 planes as of 27 April. U.S. 7th Fleet Destroyer USS Sampson 26 April sailed through Taiwan Strait; in response, China said that it is one of U.S. “provocative acts that send wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” forces”. Taiwanese Coast Guard 8 April received fourth and fifth of 12 planned locally-made offshore patrol vessels. Taiwanese military 12 April released handbook on civil defence for first time, giving citizens survival guidance in war scenario.
Taiwan raised concern over Chinese threats in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Beijing expanded its defence budget and continued military activity in region. War in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion drew attention to potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Chinese FM Wang Yi 7 March said Ukraine and Taiwan “are not comparable at all”, asserting Taiwan is not sovereign state. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen 12 March said war in Ukraine proved Taiwanese defence depends on “the unity of our people”, following 2 March extension of reservist training period. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 16 March argued U.S. unwillingness to commit troops to Ukraine is evidence Taiwan’s ruling party should not “rely on the United States to seek independence”. China 5 March announced planned defence budget increase of 7.1% to $230bn and same day reiterated commitment to “solving the Taiwan issue in the new era.” Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone throughout month, totalling 48 planes as of 27 March. Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong 18 March sailed through Taiwan Strait, tailed by USS Ralph Johnson. Taiwan remained point of contention between U.S. and China. Following 14 March meeting between U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Politburo official Yang Jiechi, Beijing said it was “gravely concerned about and firmly opposes” current U.S. approach to Taiwan. In call with U.S. President Biden, Chinese President Xi 18 March reiterated discontent over administration’s “mishandling of the Taiwan question”, noting some in U.S. are sending Taiwan “very dangerous” signals. Several U.S. former officials, including former Sec State Mike Pompeo, 1-2 March met President Tsai in Taiwan; Pompeo 4 March said U.S. should offer diplomatic recognition to Taiwan; China same day described proposal as “lunatic remarks”.
U.S. maintained posture of support for Taiwan, while China deployed dozens of aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone. U.S. 7 Feb authorised possible sale of military equipment and services worth $100mn to help Taiwan “sustain, maintain, and improve” its Patriot missile defence system; Chinese defence ministry 9 Feb said act “grossly interferes” with China’s internal affairs, called on U.S. to revoke sale. U.S. Biden administration 11 Feb unveiled its new Indo-Pacific Strategy, which pledges to deter military aggression in Taiwan Strait. Senior Chinese official Wang Yang in 5 Feb meeting with former leader of Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang party Hung Hsiu-chu said China was willing to hold dialogue on “democratic consultations” on basis of “one-China” principle; Taiwanese officials next day strongly rejected Chinese offer, calling it bid to “destroy” Taiwan. Meanwhile, Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone throughout month, totalling 39 aircraft as of 23 Feb. Defence ministry 15 Feb said China flew civilian aircraft into “defence reaction zone” of remote Taiwanese island Dongyin on 5 Feb, speculating China may have been testing military’s response. U.S. warship USS Ralph Johnson 26 Feb sailed through Taiwan Strait in “routine” transit that China same day denounced as “provocative”. Taiwan 15 Feb announced it would join U.S., UK and Australia in consultations on EU’s case against China at World Trade Organization, in which Beijing is accused of blocking trade with Lithuania. Somaliland’s FM 9 Feb visited Taiwan and met with President Tsai.
China conducted largest aerial incursion into Taiwan’s air defence zone since Oct 2021, while Taipei adopted special military budget and continued to cultivate international ties. Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone throughout month, totalling 138 aircraft as of 30 Jan; 23 Jan marks largest incursion since Oct 2021 with defence ministry scrambling fighters to warn off 39 Chinese aircraft. U.S. navy destroyer 22 Jan transited Taiwan Strait. Taiwan’s army 6 Jan conducted urban warfare exercise. Parliament 16 Jan passed over $8bn five-year special military budget to produce precision and long-range missiles and naval ships. In 1 Jan New Year’s speech, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan would “neither bow to pressure nor act rashly when we have support” and that Beijing should “stop the spread of military adventurism within their ranks”. In rare face-to-face meeting with U.S. senior officials, Taiwan’s VP Lai Ching-te during 26-29 Jan trip to Honduras spoke with U.S. VP Kamala Harris at Honduran president’s inauguration, and met virtually with U.S. congressional representatives. In 28 Jan interview, Chinese Ambassador to U.S. Qin Gang said if Taiwan continued “down the road of independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States … in a military conflict”. Former Deputy Director of China’s Taiwan Affairs office Sun Yafu said 8 Jan Beijing would put forward “new policy decisions and arrangements” on Taiwan at 20th Party Congress due to take place in late 2022. Despite tensions last year, trade data 7 Jan revealed China-Taiwan trade grew in 2021, reaching new high of $188.9bn. EU 27 Jan launched case at World Trade Organization against China for blocking trade with Lithuania after Vilnius opened Taiwan representative office using “Taiwanese” in its name rather than usual “Taipei.” Taiwan 11 Jan pledged $1bn credit fund for projects in Lithuania including semiconductor industry. Slovenian PM Janez Jansa 17 Jan said Slovenia and Taiwan were discussing exchanging representatives; Taiwan next day confirmed talks, while Chinese foreign ministry 19 Jan expressed shock, calling Jansa’s remarks “dangerous”.
China and U.S. traded diplomatic barbs over potential forceful reunification, while Chinese aircraft continued incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone. U.S. Sec State Blinken 3 Dec warned of “terrible consequences” should China attempt to force reunification across Taiwan Strait; U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin next day said Chinese aerial incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) looked “like rehearsals”. Chinese foreign ministry 6 Dec said it “strongly deplores” statements and that challenging “one China” policy “will not stop the progress of history”. Taiwanese defence ministry 13 Dec said full Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be extremely difficult to achieve and that Chinese military may use drills as pretence to launch an attack. Chinese foreign ministry 15 Dec voiced opposition to same day arrival of six French legislators in capital Taipei for visit; legislators 17 Dec said France must take bolder action to support Taiwan’s democracy. Chinese aircraft flew into south-western corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ nearly every day during month, totaling 60 aircraft as of 19 Dec; largest incursion comprising 13 Chinese military aircraft occurred on 10 Dec when Nicaragua announced severing of ties with Taiwan and established official diplomatic relations with China. Chinese media 8 Dec reported that Taiwanese hacking group GreenSpot has been launching cyberattacks on mainland since 2007, mainly targeting govt agencies, aerospace and military organisations. Reuters 20 Dec revealed broad Chinese campaign to undermine Taiwan’s military and civilian leadership, said Taiwan had convicted at least 21 Taiwanese officers of espionage in past decade. U.S. and Taiwan 6 Dec agreed to establish stronger tech cooperation, chiefly in semiconductors.
European and U.S. lawmakers sought deeper engagement with Taiwan, U.S. and China signalled restraint, and Beijing continued incursions into Taiwanese airspace. EU Parliament delegation of seven lawmakers 3-5 Nov visited Taiwan in first “official” visit and met Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen; delegation head said visit was aimed at showing “Europe is standing with you”. Six U.S. legislators 9 Nov met with senior Taiwan officials, including Tsai in visit to Taiwan’s capital Taipei, and second delegation visited 25 Nov; delegation leader Senator John Cornyn said meeting was “to learn how the U.S. can best support Taiwan’s development of domestic asymmetric defence capabilities and discuss trade relations”; in response, Chinese military’s Eastern Theatre Command same day held joint combat readiness patrol in Taiwan Strait. China 13 Nov warned U.S. against sending “wrong signals” to Taiwanese pro-independence forces. U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi 15 Nov signalled restraint over Taiwan in virtual meeting, with Chinese statement affirming Beijing’s “patience” on issue while U.S. statement referenced “one China” policy for first time following Xi-Biden interactions. Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton 14 Nov said it “would be inconceivable” for Australia not to support the U.S. in defending Taiwan in event of Chinese invasion. Meanwhile, Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone throughout month, totalling 166 aircraft as of 29 Nov; largest sortie of 27 aircraft on 28 Nov followed second U.S. congressional visit and coincided with visit by Baltic lawmakers 29 Nov. U.S. warship 23 Nov transited Taiwan Strait for 11th time in 2021.
Tensions ran high as China conducted record air incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone, and U.S. and allies conducted large-scale exercises in region. Military activity increased during month. In display of strength, China 1-4 Oct dispatched 149 military aircraft in south west area of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), with 56 jets entering zone on 4 Oct – by far largest daily incursion since Taiwan began publicising data in Sept 2020. U.S., UK, Japan, Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand 2-3 Oct conducted large-scale exercises off Japan’s Okinawa island involving 17 vessels and three aircraft carriers. China 11 Oct reported beach landing and assault drill in Fujian province and 17 Oct reported integrated military-civilian cross-sea exercise using large civilian ferry likely designed to signal growing amphibious lift capabilities. U.S. destroyer USS Dewey 14-15 Oct conducted tenth Taiwan Strait transit of 2021 and with Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg for first time; China 17 Oct said U.S. and Canada “colluded to provoke and stir up trouble”. Meanwhile, political statements did not indicate major changes in policies of China, Taiwan or the U.S.. Taiwan’s Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng 6 Oct warned that by 2025 Chinese military capabilities “would be able to bring the cost and attrition of a full-scale invasion [of Taiwan] to its lowest”. Chinese President Xi 9 Oct said peaceful reunification with Taiwan was “most in line with the overall interests of the Chinese nation”. U.S. President Biden 22 Oct said U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defence in event of Chinese attack; White House subsequently clarified there was no change in U.S. policy. U.S. and Taiwan continued efforts to reduce Taiwan’s international isolation with support from some European countries, despite China’s objections. EU Parliament 21 Oct passed non-binding resolution calling EU to deepen ties with Taiwan, including through investment deal. Taiwan’s FM Joseph Wu 26 Oct began tour of Europe including Bratislava, Prague, Rome and Brussels. U.S. Sec State Blinken 26 Oct issued statement calling for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN system.
China warned U.S. against official diplomatic interactions with Taiwan, while military activity continued in region. U.S. President Biden in 9 Sept call to Chinese President Xi said U.S. had no intention of changing its one-China policy. Media reports 10 Sept indicated U.S. was considering changing name of Taiwan’s U.S. mission from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” to “Taiwan Representative Office”. In response, China 13 Sept called on U.S. to stop official interactions, calling Taiwan “the most important and sensitive issue at the core of China-US relations”; should official office name be changed, Beijing may respond by ramping up military activity around Taiwan or flying its planes across de facto sea demarcation known as “median line”. Meanwhile, military activity continued. Number of Chinese military planes that entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone rose, returning to high levels last seen in April; notably, 24 planes entered on 23 Sept. Chinese military 17 Sept conducted exercise off Taiwan’s south-western coast. U.S. warship same day transited through Taiwan Strait in ninth such passage in 2021. Taiwan 13-17 Sept conducted annual Han Kuang military exercise and 16 Sept announced proposal to allocate $8.7 bn in addition to defence budget over next five years to purchase missiles, naval ships and weapons systems for warships. British warship 27 Sept sailed through Taiwan Strait for first time since 2008. European Parliament 16 Sept adopted resolution calling for bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan and European Commission to facilitate Taipei’s full participation as an observer in UN agencies. China 20 Sept began ban on import of Taiwan’s custard and wax apples, 90% of which go to China, citing pests; Taiwan denied charge and warned it would file formal complaint at World Trade Organization.
Cross-strait tensions continued between Beijing and Taipei as U.S. announced new arms deal with Taiwan and China conducted military exercises. After U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman late July met Chinese FM Wang Yi, raising concerns over Beijing’s conduct across Taiwan Strait, U.S. State Dept 4 Aug approved arms sale to Taiwan valued at up to $750mn; China 17 Aug said U.S. was breaching commitments on arms sales to Taiwan made under 1982 Joint Communiqué. U.S. warship 28 Aug sailed through Taiwan Strait, eighth transit in 2021. U.S. also continued to deepen unofficial engagement with Taipei. Notably, U.S. and Taiwan 11 Aug held first meeting on coastguard-related cooperation; China 13 Aug expressed its opposition. Partly in response to U.S. arms sales, China 17 Aug conducted military drills near Taiwan’s southern coast, with warships and 11 aircraft. At least 34 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone during month, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry. In rare interview with international media, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen 10 Aug stated that international concern over Taiwan Strait would prompt more cautious approach by Beijing, Taiwan would not give in to military pressure, and Beijing should cease crackdowns on Hong Kong and Xinjiang province, also rejected “one country two systems” model; China 11 Aug rebuked remarks. In response to Taiwan’s July decision to open representative office in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, China 10 Aug announced plan to withdraw its ambassador to Lithuania and has reportedly suspended direct rail freight between two countries; U.S. officials publicly expressed support for Vilnius. Representatives of Taiwan’s and Japan’s ruling parties 27 Aug held first ever security dialogue.
Cross-strait relations between Beijing and Taipei remained tense amid heated diplomatic exchanges, while Taiwan remained point of friction between U.S. and China. During speech at centenary celebrations of Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping 1 July raised “peaceful reunification” in reference to Taiwan. Taiwan officials same day issued statement on celebrations, criticising Communist Party for its “one-party dictatorship” and “interference with international order”; in turn, Beijing officials said Taiwan had “spoken outrageously”. U.S. military transport plane 15 July landed briefly in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, reportedly to deliver packages to U.S. diplomats, prompting China to rebuke U.S. for “aggravating dangerous tensions” in strait; separate U.S. military transport plane 19 July landed briefly in Taipei. China 16 July held joint amphibious landing exercises in strait. Taiwan next day conducted live-fire artillery drill, simulating response to enemy invasion. According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, total number of Chinese military aircraft that entered into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone in July reached 16, showing significant decline compared to previous months. President Tsai Ing-wen 20 July announced Taiwan would open representative office in Lithuania in “important diplomatic breakthrough”; China same day warned Lithuania against move. Earlier in month, U.S. National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell 6 July said U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence, but rather “strong unofficial relationship” with island. Japanese Deputy PM Tarō Asō 6 July suggested that attack on Taiwan would be interpreted as threat to Japan and would prompt Japanese military support (see Japan).
China stepped up intrusions of Taiwan’s aerial zone after relative decline in recent months, while COVID-19 crisis fuelled domestic and cross-strait tensions. Taiwanese defence ministry 15 June reported 28 Chinese military aircraft entering into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), marking sudden spike after numbers of aircraft had dipped between late April and early June. As of 28 June, total 43 Chinese aircraft had entered Taiwan’s ADIZ during month. Three U.S. senators 6 June briefly visited Taiwan’s capital Taipei by military plane; China 8 June called visit “very vicious political provocation”. At summit in UK, G7 leaders 13 June noted importance of peace and stability across Taiwan Strait for first time. Amid worsening outbreak of COVID-19, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) faced widespread criticism for not securing enough vaccines, especially from opposition party Kuomintang (KMT). Japan 4 June donated 2.1 mn vaccines to Taiwan, while U.S. 20 June donated 2.5 mn; Chinese foreign ministry 21 June called on U.S. not to use vaccination programme support for “political manoeuvre or interference in China’s internal affairs” and Beijing continued to accuse DPP of politicising vaccine procurement by creating barriers to Chinese vaccines. Macau 16 June suspended operations of its representative office in Taiwan, as did Hong Kong in May without providing explanations. Staff working at Taiwan’s representative office in Hong Kong 20 June returned to Taiwan after city govt demanded representatives sign document recognising “One China” principle or leave country.
Cross-strait tensions decreased as Taipei focused on containing COVID-19 outbreak. Taiwanese defence ministry claimed at least 28 Chinese military aircraft entered its Air Defence Identification Zone during month. U.S. guided-missile destroyer Curtis Wilbur 18 May transited through Taiwan Strait; in response, China 19 May accused U.S. of threatening Strait’s peace and stability. Taiwan saw worst COVID-19 outbreak since start of pandemic during May. Chinese officials 17 May offered Chinese vaccines to Taiwan, blaming ruling Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party for creating “political obstacles” that prevented vaccines from arriving; Taiwan 18 May called offer “false sympathy” and President Tsai Ing-wen 27 May said China interfered with Taiwan’s efforts to procure vaccines from Germany’s BioNTech. Despite growing international support throughout month for Taiwan’s participation in 74th World Health Assembly 24-31 May, Taiwan not invited by end of month; Taipei 24 May criticised alleged “indifference” from World Health Organization. At G7 foreign ministers summit in UK, participants 5 May opposed “any unilateral actions that could escalate tensions” in Taiwan Strait; in response, China next day condemned statement as gross interference in internal affairs. Hong Kong authorities 18 May halted operations at its representative office in Taiwan.
Amid intense Chinese military activities, U.S. bolstered its diplomatic support for Taipei. Ten Chinese military aircrafts 5 April conducted simultaneous military exercises west and east of Taiwan; Chinese navy same day said such drills would become regular. Taiwanese defence ministry claimed series of Chinese military aircraft entered Air Defence Identification Zone throughout month; it noted that China 12 April dispatched 25 military aircraft in largest ever incursion since Sept 2020. Other reported Chinese incursions included two J-16 fighter jets, one KJ-500 airborne plane and one Y-8 reconnaissance plane 6 April; 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighters 7 April; two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes 8 April; four J-16 fighter jets and one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare plane 13 April; two J-16 fighter jets 15 April; and five J-16 fighter jets, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes 20 April. Taiwanese FM Joseph Wu 7 April said island will defend itself “to the very last day” if attacked; China 14 April reiterated it prefers peaceful reunification and all options including military force remain. Meanwhile, U.S. continued military activity in region. John S. McCain guided missile destroyer 7 April conducted “routine” transit of Taiwan Strait; China next day protested passage. On diplomatic front, U.S. 9 April issued new guidelines to enable U.S. officials to meet freely with Taiwanese officials; in response, China 13 April told U.S. to stop “playing with fire”. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 11 April concerned at China’s “increasingly aggressive actions” against Taiwan, warned it would be “serious mistake” to try to change status quo by force; U.S. President Biden 13 April sent unofficial delegation of three former senior officials to Taiwan in “personal signal” of support. Media reports 20 April indicated that U.S. administration set to approve its first weapons sales to Taiwan. Australian defence minister 25 April said conflict over Taiwan cannot be discounted.
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.
Cross-strait tensions remained high amid persistent Chinese and U.S. military activity in region. U.S. President Biden 10 Feb raised concerns over Beijing’s pressure on Taiwan in first phone conversation with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping; Taiwanese govt 11 Feb thanked Biden for comments. Taiwanese de facto Ambassador to U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim 10 Feb met with acting U.S. Assistant Sec State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Sung Kim in Washington D.C., in first publicly acknowledged formal meeting under new U.S. administration. Taiwanese Presidential Office 19 Feb announced reshuffle of top officials in charge of defence, national security and China policies. Meanwhile, Taiwanese defence ministry claimed series of Chinese military aircraft entered Air Defence Identification Zones (ADIZ) throughout month, including: one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft 1 Feb; one Y-8 electronic intelligence aircraft and one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft 4 Feb; two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircrafts 7 and 18 Feb; one Shaanxi Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft 6, 18, 22 and 23 Feb; two J-16 fighter jets 8 Feb; one Y-8 ASW anti-submarine aircraft and one Y-8 RECCE aircraft 13 Feb; one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft 16 Feb; four J-16 strike fighters, four JH-7 fighter-bombers and one Y-9 EW electronic warfare aircraft 19 Feb; and two Chengdu J-10 fighter jets, two Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, four Xi'an JH-7 fighter-bombers, two Xian H-6K bombers, and one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft 20 Feb. In response, Taiwan scrambled jets, broadcast radio warnings and tracked planes with air defence system on each occasion. U.S. continued military activity in region: four U.S. military aircraft 1 Feb flew through ADIZ; U.S. Navy 4 Feb sent guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain through Taiwan Strait, prompting China’s military 5 Feb to accuse U.S. of deliberately “creating tensions”. President Tsai Ing-wen 9 Feb confirmed in Lunar New Year message that U.S. military support remains firm.
Cross-strait tensions continued to run high amid U.S. lifting of four-decade-old restrictions on interactions with Taiwanese officials and ongoing Chinese military activity. Outgoing U.S. Sec of State Mike Pompeo 9 Jan announced lifting of “self-imposed restrictions” on interactions with Taiwanese officials which had been in place since 1979; China 11 Jan strongly condemned move. Taiwanese presidential office 14 Jan said President Tsai Ing-wen and outgoing U.S. Ambassador to UN Craft had discussed deepening Taiwan-U.S. ties; in response, Chinese MFA 18 Jan announced sanctions on U.S. officials who have engaged in “nasty behaviour on the Taiwan issue”. Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington D.C. 20 Jan attended U.S. President Biden’s inauguration ceremony with official invitation for first time since 1979. China’s Ministry of Defence 28 Jan warned “Taiwan independence” means war; U.S. same day reaffirmed “obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act”. Earlier in month, U.S. Assistant Sec of State for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper 7 Jan held political and military dialogue with Taiwan. Meanwhile, Taiwanese defence ministry claimed series of Chinese military aircraft entered Air Defence Identification Zones (ADIZ) throughout month, including: one Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft and one Y-9 electronic warfare aircraft 4 and 18 Jan; one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft 7 Jan; one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and one Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft 12 Jan; one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance aircraft 20 Jan; eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets 23 Jan; two Chinese Chengdu J-10 fighter jets 28 Jan; and seven military aircraft 31 Jan. In response, Taiwan scrambled jets, broadcast radio warnings and tracked planes with air defence system on each occasion. Tsai 1 Jan said Taiwan’s govt is ready to have “meaningful” dialogue with Beijing; China’s Taiwan Affairs Office same day rebuffed offer. Taiwanese military forces 19 Jan staged drill using tanks, mortars and small arms aimed at repelling attack from China. U.S. continued military activity in region; U.S. Navy surveillance drone 13 Jan flew within Taiwan’s ADIZ.
Cross-strait tensions remained high amid intense Chinese and U.S. military activity. Taiwanese defence ministry claimed series of Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwanese Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) during month, including: one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft and one Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft 9 and 21 Dec; one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft 1, 2, 6, 7, 26 Dec; one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance aircraft and one Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft 4 Dec; one Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft 10 Dec; one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft and one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft 15 Dec; one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, one Y-8 electronic intelligence aircraft, one Y-9 electronic aircraft, and one Y-8 reconnaissance aircraft 16 Dec; one Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft and one Y-8 electronic aircraft 20, 22, 24 Dec. In response, Taiwan scrambled jets, broadcast radio warnings and tracked planes with air defence system on each occasion. Meanwhile, U.S. continued military activity in region and support for Taiwan. U.S. govt 7 Dec notified Congress of new $280mn arms sale package to Taiwan. Aircraft spotters 14 Dec detected U.S. Navy surveillance drone flying within ADIZ. Chinese military 19 Dec said it had “tailed and monitored” guided missile destroyer USS Mustin as it passed through Taiwan Strait, denouncing such missions as “flirtatious glances to Taiwan independence forces”; U.S. Navy said warship had conducted “routine Taiwan Strait transit [...] in accordance with international law”. Two U.S. Navy destroyers, USS John S. McCain and USS Curtis Wilbur, 31 Dec conducted a rare “double transit” of Taiwan Strait. China 20 Dec sailed Shandong aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait; Chinese navy 21 Dec said that Shandong was on its way to conduct drills in South China Sea; Taiwanese defence ministry same day said it had deployed six ships and eight types of aircraft to monitor situation. Japanese State Minister of Defence Yasuhide Nakayama 25 Dec called on U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to “be strong” in supporting Taiwan, referring to country’s safety as “red line.”
Cross-strait tensions remained high amid intense Chinese and U.S. military activity and Washington’s diplomatic and military support for Taipei. Taiwanese defence ministry claimed series of Chinese military aircrafts entered Taiwanese Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) during month, including: one Y-8 reconnaissance plane 1 Nov; two Y-8 anti-submarine aircrafts, two SU-30s, two J-10s and two J-16s 2 Nov; one Y-8 anti-submarine plane 4, 10, 12, 22 and 23 Nov; one Y-8 plane and one Y-8 anti-submarine plane 11, 16, 17 and 24 Nov. In response, Taiwan scrambled jets, broadcast radio warnings and tracked planes with air defence system on each occasion. Meanwhile, U.S. continued military activity in region as well as support for Taiwan. U.S. State Department 3 Nov cleared potential sale of four aerial drones to Taiwan; Chinese foreign ministry 4 Nov said U.S. had sent wrong and grave signals with deal. Taiwanese Naval Command 9 Nov confirmed that contingent of U.S. Marines arrived to train troops for four weeks at Tsoying Naval Base; Chinese state media 11 Nov said U.S. training would not affect cross-strait military balance. Plane tracker Aircraft Spots 17 Nov claimed two U.S. Air Force B1-B bombers entered China’s ADIZ; Beijing-based Probing Initiative 22 Nov reported five U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft and two aerial tankers flew south of Taiwan’s ADIZ; U.S. Air Force 24 Nov flew two supersonic heavy bombers into East China Sea. U.S. Rear Admiral Michael Studeman 22 Nov made unannounced visit to Taiwan. U.S. also increased diplomatic support for Taiwan: Washington 6 Nov urged World Health Organization (WHO) to invite Taiwan to major meeting focused on COVID-19; WHO member countries 9 Nov rejected request. U.S. Sec State Pompeo 12 Nov said “Taiwan has not been a part of China”; Beijing next day said that U.S. interference “will be met with a resolute counterattack by China”. Beijing 11 Nov urged U.S. to “stop any kind of official exchanges or contacts with Taiwan” ahead of Taiwan-U.S. economic talks held virtually and in-person in Washington 20 Nov; talks concluded with deal to establish “institutionalised dialogue mechanism”.
Cross-strait tensions remained high amid intense Chinese military activity and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Taiwanese govt claimed series of Chinese military jets entered Taiwanese Air Defence Identification Zone during month, including: Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft on 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15-17, 21, 25 and 31 Oct; one KJ-500 surveillance aircraft 7 Oct; two planes including one Y-9 transport aircraft 9 Oct; three jets including KJ-500 jet 20 Oct; two jets including a Y-8 plane 26 Oct; one electronic warfare plane 27 and 29 Oct; two planes 28 Oct; and three planes including electronic signals intelligence plane 30 Oct. In response, Taipei scrambled jets and tracked planes with air defence system on each occasion. Canadian warship 3 Oct and U.S. warship 14 Oct sailed through Taiwan Strait; following latter, Chinese military warned Washington to stop “words and deeds that provoke trouble”. U.S. military transport plane 8 Oct flew route along “median line” in Strait. Meanwhile, U.S. state dept 21 Oct approved sale of three weapons systems, including missiles and artillery, to Taiwan; next day, Taipei welcomed package, thanking U.S. for helping “strengthen its self-defense capabilities”; Beijing 26 Oct announced it would sanction U.S. arms companies involved in deal, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon for move, which “China firmly opposes and strongly condemns”. Taipei denied reports on Chinese state television 12 and 13 Oct that allegedly showed confessions of two Taiwanese spies that Chinese authorities had supposedly arrested as part of a large anti-espionage operation “Thunder 2020”. U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien 16 Oct said Taiwan should “fortify itself” against potential invasion or Chinese-led economic measures such as embargo. In Taipei, parliament 6 Oct unanimously passed opposition Kuomintang party-proposed resolutions calling for further U.S. military aid and resumption of U.S.-Taiwan diplomatic ties. Taiwanese President Tsai 10 Oct in annual National Day address said maintaining “stability in cross-strait relations is in the best interest of both sides”.
Cross-strait tensions spiked amid heightened Chinese military activity and senior U.S. official’s visit to Taiwan. Following Aug visit of U.S. health chief Alex Azar, U.S. State Under Secretary Keith Krach 17-19 Sept visited Taiwan for memorial service in highest level visit by U.S. cabinet official since 1979; Chinese MFA 17 Sept said trip “severely violates the one-China principle” and urged Washington to “immediately stop official exchange with Taiwan”. Beijing conducted live-fire exercises during visit, with Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper quoting experts who suggested drills are “rehearsal for a Taiwan takeover”; 18 Chinese jets, including H-6 bombers and J-16 fighters, conducted military drills in Taiwan Strait 18 Sept, with 19 jets, including a Y-8 anti-submarine plane, holding exercises next day; in response, Taipei scrambled jets and tracked jets with air defence system both days. President Tsai 20 Sept denounced drills, saying they demonstrated to regional countries “threat posed by China”. Prior to visit, Taiwanese military 4 Sept denied claims on social media that its forces had shot down Chinese jet, which crossed median line in Taiwan Strait – referring to de facto sea demarcation that both sides have generally observed for decades. Chinese jets 9-10 Sept entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone, while two Y-8’s entered zone 16 Sept. Beijing 14-20 Sept held navy exercises in Yellow Sea, while Taiwan 14-18 Sept conducted computer-aided “war games” as part of annual military drills. Taiwanese FM Wu 17 Sept called for international support to deter “China’s expansionist motivation” during interview. Tensions rose further when Chinese MFA 21 Sept announced that “there is no so-called center line in the Taiwan Strait”, referring to median line. Main Taiwan opposition Kuomintang party 14 Sept announced it would not send official delegation to annual cross-Strait forum following Chinese state media China Central Television 10 Sept headline that claimed party was coming to “plead for peace” amid Taiwan-China tensions. Reuters 16 Sept reported Washington plans to sell up to seven major weapons systems such as mines, cruise missiles and drones to Taipei.
Cross-strait tensions continued between Taiwan and China amid visit to Taiwan by highest U.S. official in four decades. U.S. health chief Alex Azar met with President Tsai during 9-12 Aug visit to Taipei, in most senior visit by American official since break of Washington-Taipei ties in 1979; Azar lent support to Taiwan’s participation in global health forums like the World Health Organization and oversaw signing of first bilateral memorandum of understanding on health cooperation including vaccine development and infectious disease control; in lead up to visit, Chinese foreign ministry 7 Aug urged U.S. to “stop official ties with Taiwan” and said Beijing “will take firm countermeasures”. U.S. Sec State Mike Pompeo 10 Aug criticised China’s objections to Azar’s visit as sign of “weakness.” During visit, Chinese J-10 and J-11 fighter jets 10 Aug crossed median line in Taiwan Strait, with Taipei scrambling planes in response, while Chinese military 13 Aug reported it had carried out further drills during Azar’s visit, both in Taiwan Strait and to the north and south of Taiwan. Taiwanese defence ministry 10 Aug said it had tracked Chinese planes with radars from surface-to-air missiles for first time. U.S. destroyers 18 and 30 Aug transited Taiwan Strait. Taipei 13 Aug proposed 10% increase to defence spending to $15.4bn in 2021 and next day reportedly finalised purchase from U.S. of 66 F-16 fighter jets. Taiwanese govt 19 Aug said hackers linked to Beijing attacked at least ten govt agencies since 2018 in attempt to steal data.
Cross-strait tensions persisted amid Taiwan’s annual military exercises, while Taipei announced diplomatic ties with Somaliland. Taiwan 13-17 July held annual live fire war games simulating defence against invasion of island involving all branches of armed forces, including navy 15 July firing first live torpedo since 2007; two Chinese reconnaissance vessels same day sailed near eastern coast of Taiwan. Earlier, Chinese military aircraft 4 July entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, which prompted Taiwanese fighter jets to scramble in response. U.S. State Department 9 July approved sale of upgrades to PAC-3 air defence missiles system to Taiwan; in response, China 14 July announced it will impose sanctions on U.S. arms company Lockheed Martin, which produces the weapons system. U.S. Congress member 29 July introduced bill to authorise U.S. to use military force if China attacks Taiwan. Taiwanese govt 1 July announced establishment of diplomatic ties with and representative offices in Somaliland, a self-declared independent region of Somalia, following Feb 2020 meeting in Taipei between two entities; Chinese foreign ministry 6 July said Beijing “firmly opposes the establishment or any form of official exchange between” Taiwan and Somaliland. FM 22 July said China is sending military planes close to Taiwan with increasing frequency, accusing Beijing of “unceasingly preparing to use force to resolve the Taiwan problem”.
Tensions increased between Taipei and Beijing amid increased Chinese incursions into Taiwanese Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) and continued U.S. military presence. Amid heightened tensions following top Chinese general’s 29 May threat to use “all necessary measures” to prevent Taiwanese independence, Chinese military activity spiked mid-month; Taiwanese army reported eight incursions by Chinese military aircraft into Taiwanese ADIZ 9-22 June, including: several Su-30 fighter jets 9 June, a Y-8 surveillance aircraft shortly after Taiwan carried out missile tests off eastern coast 12 June, intrusions by J-10 fighter 19 June and several jets including H-6 bomber 22 June. U.S. Navy destroyer 4 June sailed through Taiwan Strait; Taiwanese Defence Ministry 9 June said U.S. navy transport plane that day entered Taiwanese air space with permission; in response, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 11 June said flight was “illegal act and a seriously provocative incident”; U.S. military jets, including P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and reconnaissance planes, flew daily over waters near Taiwan 21-30 June. Committee established by Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang party to examine party’s cross-strait policy 19 June recommended that “1992 Consensus” – tacit agreement between China and then ruling-Kuomintang on principles of cross-strait relations – be used as “historical description” of cross-strait interactions; China’s Taiwan Affairs Office same day urged adherence to “1992 consensus”. Amid concerns over controversial new Chinese national security legislation for Hong Kong, Taiwan govt 18 June announced that it will open office in July in Taipei to offer humanitarian assistance to Hong Kong citizens, including those seeking asylum. Taiwanese coast guard 3 June reportedly intercepted flotilla of illegal Chinese sand dredgers in Taiwan strait.
As President Tsai started her second term, China-Taiwan tensions remained high, especially regarding Taiwan’s lack of membership with World Health Organization (WHO) amid COVID-19 concerns. Following Jan re-election, President Tsai 20 May attended inauguration in capital Taipei, where she called on China and Taiwan to “find a way to coexist,” saying she opposed Beijing’s “use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo”; in response, China same day said “reunification” is “historical inevitability”, also expressed “strong indignation” that U.S. Sec State Pompeo sent message of congratulations to be read at inauguration. Chairman of main opposition Kuomintang party – currently shaping its cross-strait policy through reform committee established mid-March – 15 May called on China to stop threatening military force and said there was no appetite for “one country, two systems” in Taiwan. Taiwan govt 28 May criticised controversial new Chinese national security legislation for Hong Kong after Chinese parliament approved decision to move forward with drafting legislation. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, tensions continued over Beijing’s apparent blocking of Taipei from accessing information from WHO as it is not a member; Taiwan govt 19 May said it was “disappointed and angry” WHO did not invite it to join its annual assembly as an observer, and share its “experiences” regarding coronavirus response. In continued military drills, U.S. destroyer 13 May sailed through Taiwan Strait. China 15 May urged France to revoke plan to sell arms to Taiwan as part of upgrade to French warship fleet Taiwan bought 30 years ago; Taipei 28 May announced plans to purchase coastal defence missile system from U.S..
Tensions remained high amid series of tit-for-tat Chinese-American military manoeuvres close to Taiwan, and govt’s relations remained strained with World Health Organization (WHO) and lack of membership in face of COVID-19 concerns. Chinese aircrafts – J-11 fighters, H-6 bomber, and KJ-500 surveillance aircraft – 10 April conducted drills near south of Taiwan and flew through Bashi Channel, body of water separating Taiwan from Philippines; later that day U.S. reconnaissance aircraft flew over area, while U.S. warship sailed through Taiwan Strait. U.S. reconnaissance aircraft 11-12 April flew over waters south of Taiwan. Defence Ministry reported Chinese naval flotilla including Liaoning aircraft carrier 12 April passed eastern and southern coasts of Taiwan to carry out drills, having passed through Miyako Strait in East China Sea previous day (see China/Japan); Taiwanese navy scrambled ships to monitor situation. Amid continued tensions over Beijing’s apparent blocking of Taipei from accessing information from WHO as it is not a member, organisation’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian health and Foreign Minister, 8 April said he had received personal abuse and death threats that originated from Taiwan, alleging foreign ministry “didn’t disassociate themselves [from the abuse]”; foreign ministry next day released statement expressing “profound regret and strong protest regarding the false accusations”.