The tensions between China and Taiwan, so the called break-away province of the PRC, are soaring. Taiwan is vehemently backed by the US and other western and regional powers, while China has vowed the re-merge the region with the mainland.
As the tensions between China and Taiwan escalate, the US has deployed B-1 strategic bombers on its Pacific territory of Guam. This move comes in the backdrop of increased Chinese activities near the Strait of Taiwan and the South China Sea.
The deployment of B-1 strategic bombers brings a major boost to Taiwanese defences as they continue to face increased hostilities from the Chinese defence forces.
According to the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), four B-1s bombers, capable of carrying massive weapon payloads arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam on Friday. Their main objective of the B-1 bombers is to conduct training and “strategic deterrence missions” in the Indo-Pacific region.
The latest move comes just a few weeks after the US Air Force recalled B-52’s and ended its 16-year Continuous Bomber Presence in Guam.
As reported by the EurAsian Times earlier, the US has accused China of the using the coronavirus pandemic as a cover to bully Taiwan and other regional nations and take provocative actions to forward its regional interests in the South China Sea.
Taiwan has been at the receiving end of Beijing’s aggression that has only increased in recent times. In March, the Peoples Liberation Army Air Force carried out its first night mission that violated the unofficial maritime border between Chinese and Taiwanese territory.
In April, China’s aircraft carrier, Liaoning, and a convoy of five warships sailed close to Taiwan through the Miyako Strait.
Bonnie Glaser, Director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies spoke to Al Jazeera and called the exercises ‘particularly aggressive’ and sees them as testing Taiwanese defences.
“These are definitely meant to intimidate Taiwan [and] test Taiwan’s air defences to see how long it takes them to scramble their jets and prepare defences,” Glasser said.
Both China and Taiwan see themselves as the sole representative of the Chinese people. China’s Communist Party claims sovereignty over Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China, although it has never governed the democratically run island of 23 million.
Taiwan on the other hand, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, who says Taiwan is already an independent country.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the US-China relationship has hit a record low. Washington blames Beijing for the poor management of the virus and believes that Chinese muzzling of reports led to the spread of the virus.
There is a trade war going on since October 2019 and in the most recent event, both nations locked horns in the disputed South China Sea.
Regardless of the pandemic, the Americans have been active in the SCS and near Taiwan in a bid to contain Chinese advances. Last month, the Air Force sent two B-1s from the South Dakota base on a 30-hour round trip to Japan, where they teamed up with Japanese F-15 and F-2 fighters, as well as US F-16 jets.
In addition, two B-1 bombers two United States airforce B-1 Lancer bombers conducted a 32- hour round-trip sortie over the SCS and US Navy destroyers carried out ‘freedom of navigation operations’ in the same area.
According to experts speaking to EurAsian Times, the lastest deployment in Guam is meant to strengthen American presence in the region and reassure allies such as Taiwan of continued US support.
Timothy Heath, a senior international defence researcher with the RAND Corp, believes that new tactic makes the US forces harder to target than keeping them on specific bases.
The consistency and predictability of the (Guam) deployment raised serious operational vulnerabilities. A planner in China’s military could have easily plotted ways of destroying the bombers due to their well-known presence,” Heath said.
The B-1 bomber presence in Guam could be the new normal for the region which has seen increased military activity by China.
As China tries to take advantage of the pandemic and bully Taiwan and other nations in the region, the US is standing up not only to protect its interest but also the entire region vulnerable to Chinese threats and aggression.