Taiwan Strait

CrisisWatch Taiwan Strait

Deteriorated Situation

Cross-strait tensions rose as new Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te articulated tougher cross-strait posture in inaugural address, prompting China to issue threats and launch major military drills.

Incoming president signalled new posture, triggering China’s “punishment” drills. Marking start of unprecedented third term for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), President-elect Lai Ching-te 20 May assumed office and gave inaugural address in which he firmly asserted Taiwan’s sovereignty and refrained from reaffirming predecessor Tsai Ing-wen’s conciliatory nod to Beijing’s “one China” position; he urged China “to cease their political and military intimidation against Taiwan” and cautioned that so long as Beijing does not renounce use of force its “ambition to annex Taiwan will not simply disappear”. In response, China next day described Lai as “disgraceful” and remarked “all Taiwan independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame in history”. In first such drills since April 2023 when then-U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy visited Taiwan, China 22 May commenced two-day military exercises in five zones encircling Taiwan as well as around Taiwan’s islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin near Chinese coast. Chinese law enforcement vessels took part in exercises around Taiwan’s outlying islands, as well as to Taiwan’s south west and east. Beijing said activities were aimed at “punishing” Lai and testing Beijing’s ability to “seize power” and “occupy key areas”. U.S. 25 May expressed deep concern and urged Beijing to act with restraint. 

Domestic political tensions rose in Taiwan. Legislation tabled by opposition parties Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) to grant legislature increased scrutinising powers over the executive passed 28 May; ruling DPP sees bill as attempt to undermine its control of executive and said it would seek constitutional review of bill. Protests took place over multiple days, totalling tens of thousands outside parliament, over opposition’s attempt to fast-track bill’s passage and its contents. 

U.S. continued support for Taiwan. Reports 14 May revealed that U.S. and Taiwan in April conducted unofficial joint naval drills in Pacific to boost cooperation, involving multiple military assets and basic operations. Since Lai’s inauguration, two U.S. congressional delegations visited Taiwan. 

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In The News

14 sty 2024
Taiwanese are increasingly having a very distinctive identity different from the mainland China, and... we are seeing a Beijing that is increasingly more powerful. AFP

Ivy Kwek

Former Giustra Fellow, China
13 sty 2024
This election [in Taiwan] marks a change in leadership at a moment when cross-strait tensions are high, and preserving stability has become more of a challenge. CNN

Amanda Hsiao

Senior Analyst, China
7 sty 2024
The more Beijing employs coercion on Taiwan, the less effective these actions will [be] on striking fear in the Taiwanese public. AFP

Ivy Kwek

Former Giustra Fellow, China
14 lis 2023
The Xi-Biden meeting provides an … opportunity for the two leaders to convey to each other that neither seeks to overturn the status quo or kinetic conflict. Newsweek

Amanda Hsiao

Senior Analyst, China
7 mar 2023
Beijing will have to publicly condemn [Taiwan President] Tsai’s visit to the US, their ultimate response will depend on what Tsai says and who she meets with on her trip. The Guardian

Amanda Hsiao

Senior Analyst, China
19 gru 2022
At the moment, we think that China has not fully developed the capability to guarantee a sure victory if it chooses to launch a military option on Taiwan. CNA

Ivy Kwek

Former Giustra Fellow, China

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