A former US diplomat has warned against the Chinese communist regime’s growing threats to unify Taiwan with the mainland during US Presidential Elections 2020.
Charles W Freeman, who has served in Taiwan and China, alerted that Beijing may utilize the time of US Presidential elections to capture the Dongsha Islands (Pratas Islands), or Taiwan’s other outer islands such as Matsu, Kinmen, and Penghu, reported Taiwan News.
Freeman claimed that China’s aim in capturing the islands would be to “give people in Taiwan a sense of the inevitability of defeat.” He pointed out that China may lay the groundwork for assault by sabotaging Taiwan’s airbases.
Freeman noted that The People’s Daily, another of China’s state-run media, had released a letter earlier in October, which urged Taiwan’s spies “against supporting President Tsai Ing-wen’s resistance to unification with China.”
Titled “Letter to Taiwan’s Intelligence Organs”, it included the phrase “Don’t say that we didn’t warn you”. It was originally used by the Qing Dynasty, “and has become a key phrase used by Chinese official media as the most severe warning previously issued before shots were fired in military operations,” as per China’s state-owned media Global Times.
Freeman says CCP used similar phrases before storming Beijing in 1949 during the Chinese Civil War and before crossing the Yalu River in 1950 during the Korean War, while according to Global Times; similar warnings were issued before the Sino-Indian War in 1962 and the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979.
Taiwan News reported that China scholar Orville Schell has raised a concern that a contested election result could embolden Beijing to make its move on the islands. He reasoned that the recent turning away of the Taiwanese supply plane from Dongsha by China could be a “harbinger of more aggression in the offing”.
There is no reason for Taiwan to not take these threats seriously as earlier in October, China released a video showing a large-scale military exercise simulating an invasion and a purported confession from a Taiwanese businessman held captive in China on spying charges, as per The Washington Post report.
The footage was released by China Central Television after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s remarks expressing a desire to hold talks amid fears of China’s increasing threats spilling over into military action.
Soon after, CCTV released another of China’s propaganda videos of a “multidimensional” drill off China’s southeastern coast featuring amphibious landing craft, attack helicopters and land-based missiles.
The PLA’s Southern Theater Command had allegedly planned a similar simulated invasion of the Dongsha Islands with Hainan island as its practice field in May, as per the report in Kyodo News. Soon after, Taiwan had dispatched companies from the Marine Corps “Iron Force” for the first time in 20 years.
As per the media reports, tensions have been boiling in the north of the South China Sea as Chinese and US aircraft have continued to flow near the islands ever since. Taiwan News reported that Chinese fishing boats were caught trespassing in the waters off of the Dongsha Islands by Taiwan Coast Guard vessels in July.
In September, Taiwan’s Coast Guard had acknowledged the increased shipping activity around the islands but dismissed claims of a flotilla of Chinese vessels operating on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) laying siege to the island.
The Chinese invasion is likely to exploit US elections due to Washington’s constant support to Taiwan amid Beijing’s rising aggression. Taiwan has been lobbying for US military support in case of an attack from China.
The recent arms deal with the US will provide Taiwan with a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), the Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) air-to-ground missiles; external sensor pods for the F-16 fighter; drones and a coastal defence missile system.
Schell worries if US President Trump Donald Trump is headed for a defeat in the election for the second term, he “might relish the opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory.” However, the biggest fear of the beginning of the war for three former members of the DOD’s Joint Chiefs of Staff is “an accident between the U.S. and Chinese militaries”, Schell says.