China and Taiwan’s Tense Relationship and Threatening Encirclement Drills


Chinese warplanes such as these J-11 fighter jets are headed toward Taiwan (AP Photo)

Daisy Moss

A stock photo from Deposit Photos illustrating China and Taiwan’s tense relationship

China and Taiwan have had a tense relationship for decades. Taiwan, a democratic Asian island country, was annexed from China in 1683 and officially declared independence in 1895 after Taiwan seceded from Japan. However, China sees Taiwan as a ‘breakaway province’ still part of China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated that the reunification of China and Taiwan “must be fulfilled,” and has threatened to use force to achieve this, although the Chinese government has stated that their intentions are purely peaceful.

As of January 11, 2023, China renewed its threats against Taiwan and warned foreign politicians that if they interact with Taiwan they will be “playing with fire.” Beijing sends warships and airplanes toward Taiwan almost daily and recently started simulating the encirclement of Taiwan during Chinese air and sea drills intended to be a “serious warning” to Taiwanese politicians and Taiwan’s supporters.

Beijing has exploited political divisions within Taiwan many times before and threatened to enter the country forcefully many times. According to Lt. Gen. Li Tiang-long, “Everyone can see clearly China’s ability to cross the first island chain is gradually improving. The so-called ‘anti-access/area denial’ ability is gradually improving,” referring to military concepts where forces prevent adversaries from entering specific areas.

Taiwan launched a large-scale drill on Thursday, with its disaster forces, local governments, and their Defense Ministry. These drills are annual and nothing new for Taiwan, but tensions are rising all across Taiwan.

A screenshot taken by me of NBC News’ video report “Taiwan on high alert amid Chinese military drills.”, which depicts a Taiwanese man watching out for Chinese warships

According to Pew Research Center, Taiwanese people typically have a more positive attitude toward the U.S. and a negative attitude toward China, there are also more citizens who prefer to identify as Taiwanese as opposed to Chinese, and typically these citizens are much younger.

Taiwanese Centennial senior Meilin Chen states, “I’m proud to be Taiwanese, and Taiwan will never be part of China, we are our own nation now,[…] The Chinese government classifies us as mainland Chinese, but we are Taiwanese.”

Chinese Centennial sophomore Jiaheng ‘Joseph’ Wang states, “I have many friends who identify as Taiwanese, and they deserve to have their own history and government, Taiwan fought hard to become Taiwan and that can’t really be changed.”

Both students showing their support for the island country.

Many Taiwanese activists have taken to social media to ask for support from foreigners and some activists have reached out to foreign governments asking for help. As of now, Taiwan and China’s future together is unknown, but an attack on Taiwan is likely, as China is currently trying to isolate the nation from receiving foreign help and support.

For more information and details, both Asia Society and Taiwan’s official government site are great resources to keep up to date with China-Taiwan conflicts and their relationship overall.