Biden’s national security adviser is hoping the war over Taiwan can be stopped
The Xi-Yang Dynamical Attack on Taiwan: The US War on the Warped Lands and the Defense of Taiwan’s Independence
Each time Biden vows direct US military involvement should China attempt to take Taiwan by force, the White House has quickly clarified that no US policy has changed. But it has also not denied that Biden’s remarks contain little of the ambiguity that has long been the guiding principle toward Taiwan.
Senior US administration officials said that Biden would be honest when talking about his views on Taiwan and didn’t want to downplay the deep disagreements between the two men.
For his part, Xi is fond of using a specific metaphor to warn Biden against overstepping: “Those who play with fire will perish by it,” he told the US president over the telephone in July as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was preparing to visit Taiwan with a congressional delegation.
It is not hard to see the Chinese military shooting down a US aircraft or balloon flying over mainland China with no fear of harm to Chinese citizens or property. The narrative of the incursion exemplified US double standards and was promoted by Beijing through their extensive global media apparatus. The US would have canceled all visits by China’s foreign policy chief, like the one Secretary of State blinken was going to Beijing for.
Taiwan maintained control of the islands after the sides split in 1949 and are considered to be a first line of defense if China were to take control of Taiwan.
Xi has said that “reunification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable and has refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at the highest they’ve been in recent decades, with the Chinese military holding major military drills near the island.
The incursions were made by fighter jets, two Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft, a KJ-500 early warning aircraft, a CH 4 and a WZ-7 military drone, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry.
The newest activities came as the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said Sunday it conducted joint combat readiness patrol and “strike drills” around Taiwan, in response to “provocations” between Taiwan and the United States, without providing specific details.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden signed a sweeping defense bill that included the establishment of a defense modernization program for Taiwan to deter Chinese aggression.
The Taiwanese defense ministry responded in a statement Sunday night that it has confidence in defending its sovereignty. The actions of the Chinese Communist Party have shown their use of force to resolve differences, which undermines regional peace and stability.
The United States and Taiwan are partners that will help safeguard a free, open, and stable region. The military will continue to strengthen their readiness due to threats and self-defense needs.
Observation of Chinese military drills on December 21st and December 22nd at the southern tip of the Kyushu island in the South China Sea
China has previously stopped talks regarding climate cooperation because they were retaliation for Pelosi visiting Taiwan. Formal bilateral talks are expected to resume as well as part of a larger set of agreements between Biden and Xi.
Chinese military drills occurred last Friday in the vicinity of the southern tip of Japan’s Kyushu island in the Pacific Ocean.
The Chinese navy’s Liaoning aircraft carrier, as well as two destroyers and a frigate, sailed about 560 kilometers (about 348 miles) east of Kitadaito Island, located off Okinawa’s east coast, on December 21, according to Japan’s Joint Staff. The vessels also sailed roughly 120 kilometers (74 miles) east of Okinotorishima, located further southeast, on December 22.
The defense ministry of Japan said around 180 fighter jets and helicopter took off and landed on the aircraft carrier.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces responded by dispatching two escort ships to collect information and carry out warning and surveillance, the ministry said.
Many of the islands and inlets in the South China Sea have beenmilitarized, as China claims almost all of the waters as part of its territory.
In the face of growing threats from Russia and China, Japan decided to increase defense spending by two thirds and to put the country’s constitution under review.
The US aircraft were forced to take evasive action when a Chinese fighter jet performed an unsafe maneuver after intercepting a US aircraft in the South China Sea.
The J-11 flew off the RC-135’s nose in anywayanyday video. A defense official said that it is not likely the Chinese jet could have kept a safe visual separation from the American aircraft, which was maintaining its course and speed. The RC-135 then takes evasive action to avoid a collision, descending away from the Chinese jet.
A suspected Chinese balloon entered American airspace on the night of December 27th. Over that time, China has moved from conciliatory to indignant and now as the war of words continues, they are becoming even more aggressive.
The PLA said that the US was attempting to dominate the South China Sea and that it was hard proof of that.
The US 7th Fleet said the flight of the P8A Poseidon over the waterway that separated China and Taiwan demonstrated the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
On Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson also accused the US of frequently sending warships and planes to carry out close-range reconnaissance against China, which the spokesman claimed amounted to a total of 657 times last year – and 64 times this January in the South China Sea.
News from China: How much does the Chinese jet have to learn from the recent air-flight incidents? An aviation and military expert on Beijing’s Meanwhile in China
CNN had a version of this story in their Meanwhile in China newsletter, which was an update on what you need to know about the country’s rise and how it affects the world. Here is where you can sign up.
Aviation and military experts contacted by CNN who watched the two videos said it appeared the Chinese jet was firmly in the wrong and had no reason to get as close as it did to the American plane.
“The 135 was in international airspace and is a large, slow, non-maneuverable aircraft. Peter Layton, a former Royal Australian Air Force officer who now works for the Institute of Asian Studies, said it is the responsibility of the approaching smaller, fast, maneuverable aircraft to stay clear.
The intention of the intercept was to identify the aircraft and the fighter could have stayed several miles away and competed that task. He said getting closer brings no gains.
Layton pointed out another potential danger that could lead to escalation. The Chinese aircraft is armed with missiles, as seen in the US video.
The US military risked blowing the incident out of proportion, because they said the US jet had to take “evasive maneuvers”, a term he characterized as “dramatic.”
The same thing happens with drivers adjusting their positions to avoid a temporary lane incursion by an opposing driver. The US response creates a sense of danger and is pure theater.
A defense policy expert said that flying aircraft close to each other at 500 mph with unfriendly intentions is unsafe.
The Paracel Islands Abrupt Event: The U.S. Foreign Ministry Reconciles Taiwan with the United States and the Cold War
“It’s worth remembering that the PLA has effectively wrecked any kind of hotlines or discussion forums for addressing potential incidents with the United States. There are fewer options for senior officers to limit potential escalation if an intercept goes wrong.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spoke about the incident in a press briefing on Friday, saying that it’s the latest in a series of US provocations that threaten stability in the region.
The Paracel Islands, the largest of which are home to Chinese military bases, are located about 30 miles from the edge of the South China Sea in a group of small atolls.
After a string of incidents last year involving intercepts of US and allied aircraft by Chinese warplanes, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the PLA’s actions were escalating and “should worry us all.”
Tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan have raised the prospect of a potential military conflict, but national security adviser Jake Sullivan believes such a scenario can be avoided.
There is a chance of conflict with respect to Taiwan but I believe we can keep it from happening. And that is our responsibility,” he told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in an exclusive interview.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. needs to take seriously China’s legitimate concerns, stop containing and suppressing China’s development, and stop using “smilmi tactics” to challenge China’s red line.
Sullivan’s comments about Taiwan are part of an interview that touched on a number of other national security concerns, including semiconductors, Ukraine and the Middle East.
I want to keep what a particular military contingency would look like out of my mind. But I will say this. When we entered office, more than 90% of the most advanced semiconductors were produced in Taiwan. The Republic of Korea produced the remaining percentage. 0% percent were produced in the United States.
We still rely on importing those chips from Taiwan and from ROK, and we are going to have to build those fabs and create that leading edge manufacturing here in America again. You can’t do that overnight. But we believe we are on a pathway to do that. And that month by month, the U.S. supply chain is becoming more secure.
The meeting between the two presidents in Indonesia was believed to place a floor under the relationship. It provided some greater stability and a direction to teams both in Beijing and in Washington to work on issues where it is in our common interest to make progress. For example, there is no reason that the United States and China, as the world’s two largest emitters of carbon, that we cannot find a way to work together to reduce overall carbon emissions in the world and contribute to solving the climate crisis.
There is no reason why the United States and China can’t work together to reduce the flow of chemicals that are going into the drug Fentanyl.
That does not erase the fact that we have fundamental differences and different disagreements with the PRC, and we are not going to be shy about those, whether it’s speaking out on human rights, whether it is pushing back against provocative actions around Taiwan, whether it is the ways in which the PRC acts in an intimidating and coercive way against its neighbors.
The U.S. and the Mideast: The Two State Solution to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on the Future of the Middle East
Semiconductors, as many people have now learned, actually just since the COVID-19 pandemic, are fundamental to the powering of our economy across the board, whether it’s our cars or our appliances or any of our high tech products, our iPhones, computers and so forth. Semiconductors are also central to military power. Every part of a nuclear submarine is powered by the same kind of transistors as the guidance systems for advanced missiles.
The essential thrust of American policy is […] to provide Ukraine the means to put themselves in the best possible position on the battlefield, to make the most gains possible. They are in the best position at a negotiating table if they choose to, because it’s up to them. Predicting exactly what the course of the war will be, how it will unfold, over what time period it will unfold, I will leave that to others.
The first thing that I intend to convey is the fact that […] the United States is absolutely committed to Israel’s security, and that’s not going to change. President Biden has been a fundamental and stalwart supporter of the state of Israel for as long as he’s been in public service. The challenges and opportunities in the Middle East region are going to be talked about. There are significant challenges, including the threat posed by Iran. On the other hand, there are real opportunities that can be utilized, including what we’ve seen in the growing ties between Israel and the Arab states.
We continue to support the two state solution and we will oppose policies and practices that can undermine the viability of that solution in Jerusalem. I will be clear and direct on those points.
Detection of a Missing Airborne Launching of an Unmanned UAV in Subic Bay, South China: A Response to President Donald W. Bush
Beth Sanner was once a deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration, and oversaw the elements that coordinate and lead collection, analysis, and program oversight. She was the president’s intelligence briefer in this role. She is a professor-of-practice at the Applied Research Lab for Intelligence and Security at the University of Maryland and a CNN national security analyst. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.
Without such a framework by which to measure and calibrate our actions toward China, we risk going overboard — inflicting significant harm to US interests, including undermining relationships with key allies and hamstringing benign US business activity with China. I understand why Americans were alarmed by the balloon, but there are much bigger threats posed by China. We need to address what appears to be gaps in our air defense and detection systems that would have allowed us to shoot such a balloon down before it ever made it to the US, even though our relations with China are very dangerous.
In late 2016, the Chinese seized an unmanned US Navy underwater vehicle in international waters in the South China Sea, just 50 nautical miles from Subic Bay in the Philippines, and hundreds of miles from China. The US navy base in Subic Bay in Asia was the largest in the world until disagreements over leased space led to a withdrawal in 1992. The incident was widely believed to have been a message to President-elect Donald Trump, just two weeks before his inauguration and several weeks after he angered Beijing by taking a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president. Beijing agreed to return the craft three days later, but never apologized and accused the US of spying.
The most important example is from the presidency of George W. Bush. The Chinese fighter jets harassed the US Navy plane over international waters. They crashed after hitting the EP-3. The pilot of the plane that was badly damaged regained control and made an emergency landing on China’s Hainan Island. The 24 US crew members were held for 11 days, and some were interrogated before they were released.
If the U.S. craft was shot down by China, the Chinese would have blamed the US for any injuries or deaths. Protests would have erupted in front of the US Embassy and China’s Ambassador to the US swiftly withdrawn.
My first reaction to the Chinese balloon when it was identified floating over Montana was probably the same as yours: “Shoot it down, already!” My role as a senior intelligence official in those times was to provide a clear-headed assessment and focus on the facts. In meetings probably held in the White House Situation Room multiple times over the past week, a senior intelligence official would have joined the US military, level-setting the discussion in this vein. So I’m inclined to buy the risk-benefit calculus that drove the decision to wait to shoot the balloon down until it was flying over shallow US waters where the risk posed by a large debris field was minimal.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, described China’s claims as “a sort of one-upmanship tit-for-tat against Washington’s accusations.”
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines on Monday accused a Chinese coast guard ship of hitting a Philippine coast guard vessel with a military-grade laser and temporarily blinding some of its crew in the disputed South China Sea, calling it a “blatant” violation of Manila’s sovereign rights.
The Philippine coast guard said in a statement that a Chinese ship blocked the Philippine patrol vessel BRP Malapascua from approaching Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef that has been occupied by Philippine forces.
The Chinese ship’s green laser light caused temporary deafness to the crew at the bridge, according to the Philippine statement.
The coast guard said the blocking of the Philippine government ships to deliver food and supplies to military personnel is a clear violation of the Philippine’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
The coast guard said it won’t be deterred by China’s aggression, after one of the two Chinese ships that were joined by two Chinese civilian vessels removed its 70mm gun cover.
The latest example of China scrambling to do damage control: Chinese airspace surveillance, the law of the sea, and what-aboutism
There are overlapping claims to the resource-rich and busy waterway, where most of the world’s oil transits take place.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps held joint exercises in the South China Sea over the weekend at a time of heightened tensions with Beijing over the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon. The U.S. has been taking steps to rebuild its military might in the Philippines more than 30 years after the closure of its large bases in the country and reinforcing an arc of military alliances in Asia.
While China is playing to its domestic audience with its hardline stance, it is also exposing the inherent contradictions in Beijing’s messaging that is severely damaging its credibility.
The claim – made without any detail or evidence – was swiftly denied by the White House, which described the allegation as “the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control.”
“It appears more like Beijing is trying to also portray itself as a victim of US surveillance, instead of being painted over the past week as an aggressor,” he said.
A senior research fellow at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore called China’s latest tactic “a large case of what-aboutism.”
“And it’s been quite contradictory. It lacks credibility with the other countries because it is mostly directed towards the domestic audience.
Thompson, a former US Defense Department official, said the US military does use balloons, both tethered and high-altitude, for surveillance, but they are “very careful” to make sure they do not go into other countries’ airspace unless it’s a cooperative operation.
“Everybody spies” is a poorly considered idea that did not justify China’s intrusion in other countries’ airspace. How countries conduct surveillance and reconnaissance matters, just as respect for international law, and the Law of the Sea matters,” he said.
The Chinese balloon was hovering at 60,000 feet when it was spotted in Montana, according to US officials, placing it squarely in US airspace. China did not clarify at what altitudes the alleged incursions of US balloons occurred.
A country’s sovereign airspace is the portion of the atmosphere that sits above its territory, including its territorial waters that extend 12 nautical miles from its land. Donald Rothwell, a professor of international law at Australian National University, stated that overflights by commercial and military aircraft are free of requirement to seek permission.
Koh, who specializes in maritime security and naval affairs in the Indo-Pacific, said existing Chinese official positions espoused on the contested South China Sea clusters, such as the Spratly Islands, did not explicitly highlight the status of the airspace over the claimed waters and terrestrial features, even though the airspace over Chinese-occupied features are claimed as national airspace.
“In recent years, the Chinese military has also been challenging foreign military aerial activities over the Spratlys, including those run by the Filipinos when they flew close to the Chinese-occupied outposts,” he said.
China has also undertaken significant land reclamation and built at least seven artificial islands in the South China Sea. An artificial island does not give any airspace sovereignty according to international law.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said a Chinese weather balloon was found on an outlying island (related report to npr/2019/2023)
In practice, it generally extends to the maximum height at which commercial and military aircraft operate, according to Rothwell. Concorde was a retired Franco-British supersonic airliner which operated at 60,000 feet (18,300 meters) setting a precedent for high national airspace.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s Defense Ministry says a Chinese weather balloon landed on one of its outlying islands, amid U.S. accusations that such craft have been dispatched worldwide to spy on Washington and its allies.
The ministry’s statement on Thursday said the balloon carried equipment registered to a state-owned electronics company in the northern city of Taiyuan.
The company that provided electronics but did not build the balloon was identified in the report as Taiyu Wireless (Radio) First Factory.
The company that supplied equipment to the China Meteorological Administration was referred to only as Taiyuan by the spokesman.
He said that the balloon was probably set off from the coastal city of Xiamen, and that it was launched daily to monitor weather.
Its deflation was likely a natural outcome of it having reached maximum altitude of around 30,000 meters (almost 100,000 feet), Liu said. Such balloons regularly fly over the Taiwan Strait but have only recently begun to draw attention, he said.
Information on the equipment was written in the simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland rather than the traditional on Taiwan, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.
The Paracel Islands, the Xisha Islands and the US Naval Warship 173: a Voice Calls out from the USA
Taiwan does not have formal relations with Washington despite being the closest military and diplomatic ally. Beijing protests strongly over all contacts between the island and the U.S., but its aggressive diplomacy has helped build strong bipartisan support for Taipei on Capitol Hill.
While not expressing regret for downing the three still-unidentified objects, Biden said he hoped the new rules would help “distinguish between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not.”
Biden ordered Jake Sullivan to lead the review of U.S. procedures after the shooting down of the Chinese balloon and three other objects.
A voice, saying it’s coming from a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) airport, crackles over the radio of the US Navy P-8 Poseidon as a CNN crew, given rare access aboard the US flight, listens in.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the strategic waterway holds huge resources such as fish, oil and gas, and more than a third of global shipping passes through it.
The Paracel Islands, called the Xisha Islands by China, are in the northern part of the South China Sea, east of Da Nang, Vietnam, and south of China’s Hainan Island.
Named by 16th century Portuguese mapmakers, they have no indigenous population to speak of, only Chinese military garrisons amounting to 1,400 people, according to the CIA Factbook.
The international tribunal in the Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016 that the historic rights to the bulk of the sea had no legal basis.
On Friday, when the US Navy P-8 aircraft was flying close to the Philippines, it saw a navy destroyer in the sky and descended to around 1,000 feet to get a closer look.
There are US aircraft. US aircraft. This is Chinese naval warship 173. You are approaching to me at low altitude. A voice comes over the radio saying, “State your intention over.”
The US Navy said the US cruiser conducted the operation in line with international law and then proceeded to conduct regular operations in high seas where freedom of navigation applies.
A U.S. Navy Search for Airspace Operations in the South China Sea Over the Last Minute of a Long-Term War with China’s Eastern Theater Command
It leaves questions when there isn’t a response. Do they understand what were saying? Do they understand our intentions? Do they know that we don’t mean any harm? he says.
A US Navy reconnaissance jet flew over the Taiwan Strait on Monday, in a maneuver intended to assert the right to operate in international airspace despite strong objections from the Chinese military.
The spokesman for the China’s Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army accused Washington of hyping the flight and inciting tensions.
The US flight “has deliberately disrupted the regional situation and jeopardized the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Shi said in a report on the PLA’s English language website.
The US will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows according to the statement from the 7th Fleet.
On Friday, a US Poseidon with a CNN crew aboard was intercepted by a PLA fighter jet over the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, a chain of contested coral atolls where Beijing has built military installations despite competing claims from Vietnam and Taiwan.
The general in charge of the US Army in the Pacific said that the PLA is on a historical trajectory as it builds its forces.
“They are rehearsing, they are practicing, they are experimenting, and they are preparing those forces for something,” Flynn said. To defend and protect is not the kind of weapon build up that is needed. You are probably building that for other purposes.”
At the same event, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said that while she does not believe a PLA amphibious invasion of Taiwan is imminent, “we have to obviously prepare … to fight and win that war.”
She said that the best way to avoid fighting the war is to show people in the region that we can win it.