China: Xi Jinping 'in a hurry' over Taiwan claims expert

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Following several months of intimidation with Beijing flying around 150 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone over the weekend, a Taipei based American diplomat has said China poses a ‘real and imminent’ threat to Taiwan. The head of the American Institute on the island, James Moriarty, said on Wednesday the incursions underlined the need for the ruling Republic of China to establish “a powerful intimidating [defence] force as soon as possible.”

Asked what Taiwan can do in August during an interview for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Moriarty said that direct negotiations with Beijing are unlikely.

Tensions have been building ever since a 2019 speech by President Xi Jinping in which he vowed to “reunify” Taiwan with mainland China, using force if necessary.

“Unfortunately, I fear that we’re at a stage where deterrence is probably the most important thing Taiwan can do,” said Mr Moriarty.

According to the US diplomat, the US should “shrink the Pacific” by expanding its presence in the region and working closely with allies such as Japan and South Korea to deter China.

America has already strengthened its alliances in the region with the new Aukus deal with Australia, drilling with military vessels from the US, the Netherlands, Japan and the UK in the South China Sea region and the deployment of troops for training on the island.

A group of two dozen special operations soldiers and US Marines have been working for at least a year on training both Taiwanese ground troops and maritime forces, including those operating small boats, US officials told the Wall Street Journal.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday vowed to “do whatever it takes” to guard Taiwan against invasion as she indicated that without help from the country’s allies “authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy.’”

“[Democratic nations] should remember that if Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic system,” she said.

“It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy.

“If its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do whatever it takes to defend itself.

“Amid almost daily intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army, our position on cross-strait relations remains constant: Taiwan will not bend to pressure.”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping previously vowed to resist “interference from external forces.”

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As the presence of US special forces in Taiwan emerged, the Chinese foreign ministry said: “China will take all necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

But a Pentagon spokesman said: “China has stepped up efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan, including increasing military activities conducted in the vicinity of Taiwan, which we believe are destabilising and increase the risk of miscalculation.”

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