During Donald Trump's tenure, China appeared to scale back its ambitious expansion into the South China Sea after building islands and fortifying them during the Obama years. Trump also kept the Chinese in check with his insistence on better trade agreements and barring the Chinese from accessing some of the United States' most advanced technology. In addition, Trump helped Taiwan bolster its defenses, which may come in handy, and very soon as Beijing tests the limits of the Biden White House.
"Just two days after its last record-breaking set of military flights around the island of Taiwan, China sent its largest-ever single wave of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ)" last week, American Military News reported, adding that "in total, 52 Chinese People’s Liberation Army aircraft breached Taiwan’s ADIZ."
"In response to the pattern of increased military pressure from China, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview with Australia’s ABC News that his country is prepared to fight back if China attacks," the report continued.
In total, the Chinese military flights on Monday included 36 J-16 and Su-30 fighter jets, 12 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, 2 Y-8 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and two KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
“52 PLA aircraft (J-16*34, SU-30*2 Y-8 ASW*2, KJ-500 AEW&C*2 and H-6*12) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on October 4, 2021. Please check our official website for more information," the Ministry of National Defense for the Republic of China, the country's official name, tweeted.
The Taiwanese military announced that it had sent radio messages warning off the Chinese aircraft while also activating missile defense systems and dispatching its own planes to intercept the incursion.
“If China is going to launch a war against Taiwan we will fight to the end, and that is our commitment,” Wu told Australia’s ABC News.
"The defense of Taiwan is in our own hands, and we are absolutely committed to that," he added. "I'm sure that if China is going to launch an attack against Taiwan, I think they are going to suffer tremendously as well."
Wu added that he would like Australia and other allied countries to share more intelligence on China's capabilities with the island nation.
We would like to engage in security or intelligence exchanges with other like-minded partners, Australia included, so Taiwan is better prepared to deal with the war situation. And so far, our relations with Australia [are] very good and that is what we appreciate," he said.
Wu also praised a recent agreement to form a regional defense pact between Australia, the Unnited States and the United Kingdom with the objective of building a half-dozen nuclear-powered submarines for the country Down Under to counter China's growing capabilities in that area.
"We are pleased to see that the like-minded partners of Taiwan — the United States and the UK and Australia — are working closer with each other to acquire more advanced defence articles so that we can defend Indo-Pacific. Australia is a great country, and I'm very glad to see that Australia is going to shoulder more responsibility to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific," Wu said.
Some experts say it would be difficult to prevent China from invading Taiwan.
"The military centre of gravity is China's air defence system in the south, it has the ability to deny the United States control of the air — if the United States cannot control the air, it cannot win either at land or at sea," said defense analyst Professor Clinton Fernandes from the University of New South Wales in an interview with Australia' ABC News.
For the Taiwanese, however, it's obvious that surrender is not an option.