Nauru Recognizes China, Further Isolating Taiwan

Map of the Pacific or Oceania region featuring Nauru.


“As a sovereign country, the Republic of Nauru independently made the right choice to announce that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities, and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. This fully shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends.”


On 15 January, a day after the election of a pro-independence presidential candidate in Taiwan, the tiny Pacific Island nation of Nauru announced a switch of diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.[i] The switch has left Taiwan with official diplomatic ties to only 12 states,[ii] although Taiwan enjoys unofficial support from others, including the United Kingdom and the United States. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning noted that, “China appreciates and welcomes the decision of the government of the Republic of Nauru,” according to the below excerpt from the printout of a press conference. Mao Ning skirted a question about whether Taiwan’s accusation “that China has lured Nauru with monetary support” was true.  There has been broad criticism of China’s tactics insinuating that it bribes nations to turn from Taiwan. According to the excerpted article from Singapore-based Channel News Asia, Taiwan accused China of engaging “in money diplomacy by offering far more money than what Taiwan provides to allies.” The same article also references an official statement from Nauru noting that the move to recognize China is a “significant first step in moving forward with Nauru’s development.” [iii] Regardless, Nauru’s shift towards Beijing is the latest of several countries that have switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China—10 since 2016—and the latest manifestation of China’s long-term strategy to grow its influence in the region and isolate Taiwan.


Sources:

“Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, 15 January 2024. https://www.mfa.gov.cn/eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/202401/t20240115_11224311.html

CCTV: The government of the Republic of Nauru officially announced its decision to recognize the one-China principle, break the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seek to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: As an independent sovereign country, the Republic of Nauru announced that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. China appreciates and welcomes the decision of the government of the Republic of Nauru.

There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. It’s what has been affirmed in Resolution 2758 of the UN General Assembly and is a prevailing consensus among the international community. China has established diplomatic relations with 182 countries on the basis of the one-China principle. The Nauru government’s decision of reestablishing diplomatic ties with China once again shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends. China stands ready to work with Nauru to open new chapters of our bilateral relations on the basis of the one-China principle.

NHK: Why did the government of Nauru announce the decision to cut diplomatic relations with the Taiwan authorities after the elections in Taiwan?

Mao Ning: The government of Nauru announced that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. This is a choice made independently by Nauru as a sovereign country. It shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends.

Reuters: A Taiwan official just said that China has lured Nauru with monetary support. May we know how much money is China going to give Nauru?

Mao Ning: As a sovereign country, the Republic of Nauru independently made the right choice to announce that it recognizes the one-China principle, breaks the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. This fully shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends.


“CNA Explains: Why tiny Nauru ditched Taipei for Beijing – and why it matters,” Channel News Asia (Singapore based, Asia specific news service), 16 January 2024. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/nauru-taiwan-china-diplomatic-can-explains-4051026

The Nauru government also said in a statement that the move was in the “best interests” of the island nation and its people.

It added that Nauru would be moving to follow the “one China principle” and was seeking a resumption of full diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China – referring to China’s official name.

“This means that the Republic of Nauru will no longer recognise the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a separate country but rather as an inalienable part of China’s territory,” said the statement.

It also called this “a significant first step in moving forward with Nauru’s development.”

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and sees it as having no right to establish state-to-state ties – a position which Taipei rejects.

Nauru’s move announcement also coincided with a visit to Taiwan by an unofficial delegation from the United States, much to Beijing’s displeasure.

But Mr Sung said while the timing conveniently gave Nauru’s diplomatic switch added significance, the US trip was not the trigger. 

“Moves like this take time to pull off,” he noted.Taiwan also alleged that China had engaged in “money diplomacy” here, by offering Nauru far more money that what Taipei provides to allies.


Notes:

[i] This is not the first time that Nauru has switched allegiances between Taiwan and China. See: China formally restores diplomatic relations with Nauru after Pacific island nation cut Taiwan ties,” AP, 23 January 2024. https://apnews.com/article/china-nauru-taiwan-diplomatic-recognition-23fd9cdd0210a2340b5ae2092d2a85d1

[ii] The 12 entities that continue to maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan are: Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Eswatini, Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and the Holy See (Vatican).

[iii] For a discussion of China’s efforts to turn Latin American countries, see: Ryan Berg, “Honduran Presidential Visit Kicks Off New Relations With China,” OE Watch, 07-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/honduran-presidential-visit-kicks-off-new-relations-with-china/; and Ryan Berg and Wazim Mowla, “Taiwan’s Future in Latin America and the Caribbean,” The Diplomat, 1 September 2022. https://thediplomat.com/2022/09/taiwans-future-in-latin-america-and-the-caribbean/


Image Information:

Image: Map of the Pacific or Oceania region featuring Nauru.
Source: World Regional Geography, https://open.lib.umn.edu/worldgeography/part/chapter-13-the-pacific-and-antarctica/
Attribution: CCA-NC-SA 4.0 Int


Taiwan Addressing Drone Technology Gap With China

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen attends the “Asian Drone AI Innovation Application R&D Center Opening Press Conference and Unveiling Ceremony” on August 13th, 2022.


“Taiwan seeks to manufacture 3,200 military drones, ranging in design from mini-drones under 2 kilograms to large reconnaissance aircraft with a cruising range of more than 150 kilometers.”


Taiwan has taken an interest in Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia. Namely, Taiwanese policymakers are researching how Ukraine continues to counter the military advantages of a significantly more powerful opponent. According to the first excerpted article from the Liberty Times Net, an influential Taiwanese news outlet, reports from a 77-page briefing given to the Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, outlining the reason that Taiwan thinks Ukraine has been successful: drones. The briefing elaborates that, “At the beginning of the war, Ukraine was believed to lack air superiority but created their own partial air superiority through drones.” The briefing comes against the backdrop of increased tension between Taiwan and China. The Taiwanese briefing expresses concern that disparities between Taiwan and China’s drone capabilities could endanger Taiwanese national security, given the Ukraine conflict has demonstrated the importance of drones.

According to the article, the drone technology gap between China and Taiwan has developed into a “dangerous” stage.  China surpasses Taiwan in the fielded varieties and number of UAVs by a significant margin. China possesses over fifty types of drones with a fleet numbering in the tens of thousands while Taiwan has four types of drones in a fleet numbering in the hundreds. This gap motivated President Tsai to initiate the “Drone National Team” project, which aims to create a self-sufficient Taiwanese drone industry by mid-2024. The same article remarks that “Taiwan seeks to manufacture 3,200 military drones, ranging in design from mini drones under 2 kilograms to large reconnaissance aircraft with a cruising range of more than 150 kilometers.”

While Taiwan develops its drone industry, the United States is assisting Taiwan to close the drone gap.  As per the second article from The Central News Agency, Taiwan’s national news agency, in August, Taiwan received some $345 million in U.S. military aid, which includes the transfer of four MQ-9A unarmed reconnaissance drones.[i] The arms deal coincides with Taiwan’s national goal to bolster its drone fleet. Drones will play a significant part in Taiwan’s strategy to deter China. As China increases its aggression toward Taiwan, Taiwan will have more opportunities to increase security cooperation with like-minded countries. However, new Taiwanese security deals with foreign countries will likely provoke China’s ire. Growing tensions will place larger burdens on Taiwan’s diplomatic partners to support the island against external threats.  As demonstrated by other global conflicts with similar matchups, Taiwan believes that drones will make significant contributions to deterring Chinese aggression.


Sources:

“俄烏戰爭無人機成關鍵 台灣加速製造望明年擁3000架以上 (Drones Have Become Key to the Russia-Ukraine War, Taiwan is Accelerating Manufacturing and Hopes to Have More Than 3,000 Drones Next Year),” Liberty Times Net (independent Taiwanese news outlet), 22 July 2023. https://def.ltn.com.tw/article/breakingnews/4371980

According to Reuters, when President Tsai Ing-wen met with top leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party last summer, the 77-page briefing stated, ‘At the beginning of the war, Ukraine was commonly believed to lack air superiority, but created their own partial air superiority through drones.’ This is the reason that, while Russia’s initial advantages and military power are much greater than that of Ukraine, Ukraine was able to successfully resist the Russian army. However, this answer is not good news for Taiwan.

Reuters pointed out that in the face of China, which has more powerful capabilities and is arming drones, the drone development gap between Taiwan and China has entered into a “dangerous” stage. Two sources and an internal security report revealed that Taiwan currently has only four types of drones, and the number of drones in the fleet is likely in the “hundreds.” However, according to national defense analysis, Reuters’ review of China’s commercial military manufacturing information, Chinese Communist Party official media reports, and other sources, it is estimated that the Chinese People’s Liberation Arm’ has more than 5’ different types of drones, and the number of drones in its fleet is “tens of thousands.”

Therefore, President Tsai Ing-wen “pressed the button” and launched the drone program to narrow the gap with China. Within the “Drone National Team” plan, the government convenes commercial drone manufacturers, aerospace companies and the military to cooperate to quickly create a self-sufficient supply chain. According to the government plan, it is expected to be completed by mid-2024, Taiwan seeks to manufacture 3,200 military drones, ranging in design from mini-drones under 2 kilograms to large reconnaissance aircraft with a cruising range of more than 150 kilometers.


Kai-hsiang Yu, “知情人士:美對台軍事援助 包含4架MQ-9A無人機 (People Familiar with the Situation: US Military Assistance to Taiwan Includes 4 MQ-9A [RG1] Drones),” Central News Agency (Taiwan’s national news agency), 14 August 2023. https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/202308140105.aspx

Following the military’s purchase of MQ-9B, people familiar with the situation told CNA reporters in the morning that the $345 million in military assistance announced by the United States at the end of July to Taiwan includes four MQ-9A unarmed drones used for reconnaissance. The United States is currently adjusting the MQ-9A advanced agility and sensitive equipment, and the delivery date has not yet been finalized. This will help improve intelligence, surveillance, and intelligence link abilities in the airspace around Taiwan…


Notes:

[i] The deal also comes with an intelligence sharing agreement including Taiwan, the United States, the Philippines, and Japan. See; Kathrin Hille & Demetri Sevastopulo, “US to link up with Taiwan and Japan drone fleets to share real-time data,” Financial Times, 8 June 2023. https://www.ft.com/content/bde0db76-a7f8-4ecd-b5d5-03de0b5a8659


Image Information:

Image: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen attends the “Asian Drone AI Innovation Application R&D Center Opening Press Conference and Unveiling Ceremony” on August 13th, 2022
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/presidentialoffice/52282054928
Attribution: CCA-SA 4.0 Intl


China’s Attempt To Increase Regional Influence

First and Second Island Chains


“China is attempting to erode the United States’ status as the world’s leading military power and largest economy by pushing “militarily-motivated” regional economic cooperation around the world”


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) wrote in a recent report that China is trying to erode U.S. military dominance and economic power through a “covert military agenda,” according to Taiwan state-run press agency Focus Taiwan. The MND bases its conclusion on several phenomena, including China’s expanding influence beyond the Second Island Chain,[i] which sees Beijing courting military allies through economic inducements. According to the article, China has pushed to establish a military base in the Solomon Islands, with which it plans to form a strategic partnership, particularly based on economics. China established official diplomatic relations with Solomon Islands in 2019, following the Solomon Islands’ cutting of ties with Taiwan. In celebrating the shift, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated the new ties with China will bring the Solomon Islands “unprecedented development opportunities.”[ii] The article expresses concern that establishing a military base in the Solomon Islands will help China to better project power past the Second Island Chain. China is also using cognitive warfare, gray zone tactics and intimidation, to gain the upper hand over the United States. This includes deploying naval forces and maritime police and militia to interfere with freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Recent reports, such as the second article excerpt, published in the independent Philippine Daily Tribune, underscore this reality. The article argues that China is combining lawfare[iii] and gray zone tactics to wear down its neighbors in the South China Sea and is waiting for “a suitable administration in the United States, which would give less importance to America’s stabilizing role in the Asia-Pacific region.”


Sources:

Matt Yu and Sean Lin, “China Pushing Military Agenda Behind Economic Exchanges: Defense Ministry,” Focus Taiwan (Taiwan state-run press agency), 11 October 2023. https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202310110023

China is attempting to erode the United States’ status as the world’s leading military power and largest economy by pushing “militarily-motivated” regional economic cooperation around the world, as evidenced by its plan to set up a military base in the Solomon Islands, which seeks to expand its power projection past the Second Island Chain, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND).

In a report delivered to the legislature on Wednesday, the MND pointed out that China has a “covert military agenda” aimed at diminishing U.S. military dominance and economic power under its Belt and Road Initiative.

For instance, China has in recent years attempted to establish a military base in the Solomon Islands to consolidate the two countries’ strategic partnership, which is a move aimed at expanding Chinese power projection past the Second Island Chain, according to the report.

In addition, China has adopted aggressive maneuvers in an attempt to establish control over issues relating to the South China Sea, including engaging in “gray zone” activities by deploying its naval forces and maritime police and militia to interfere with other countries’ freedom of navigation in the region, the report said.


“Long-Game Scenario,” Daily Tribune (an independent Philippine daily newspaper), 17 October 2023, https://tribune.net.ph/2023/09/21/long-game-scenario/

The tactic (lawfare and grey zone) involves wearing down its opponents in the South China Sea conflict while waiting for a suitable administration in the United States, which would again give less importance to America’s stabilizing role in the Asia-Pacific region.

China’s preparations for a protracted conflict are evident in its latest moves, from making public the 10-dash line claim, the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Jakarta, and the water spraying by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel of a Philippine Navy boat on a mission to resupply the grounded Sierra Madre.

Regional analysts said China is employing a combination of lawfare, which is the use of legal systems and institutions to undermine an opponent, and gray zone tactics, which are maneuvers short of war that point to a conflict for the long haul.China’s drafting of a new map was timed to reassert its territorial claims and flex its muscles ahead of the ASEAN and G20 Summits.


Notes:

[i] China’s Island Chain strategy is a maritime strategic concept that the country adopted in the 1980s. For most of its history, China focused on its internal and continental security issues. Then, as China began to open to the rest of the world, it recognized that to be a viable power, it would have to extend out into the maritime domain. The First Island Chain, which consists of the Kuril Islands, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryuku Islands, Taiwan, northern Philippines, and Borneo is the line of defense to which China would project power to protect, deny, and contest other strategic powers. The Second Island Chain reaches out to the Japan Bonin Islands, the Marianas, the western Caroline Islands, and Western New Guinea. The Third Island Chain is the Aleutian Islands, the center of the Pacific Ocean through Oceania, the Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, New Zealand, and Australia. See Beatrice Heuser and Paul O’Neill, “Episode 5: Admiral Liu Huaqing and China’s Island Chain Strategy,” RUSI, 9 August 2022. https://rusi.org/podcasts/talking-strategy/episode-5-admiral-liu-huaqing-and-chinas-island-chain-strategy

[ii] “2019年9月17日外交部发言人华春莹主持例行记者会  (On September 19, 2019, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying Hosted a Regular Press Conference),” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, 17 September 2019. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/fyrbt_673021/jzhsl_673025/201909/t20190917_5418035.shtml

[iii] Lawfare, or legal warfare, is the use of legal systems to damage or delegitimize an opponent. China is said to have the most advanced lawfare strategy, which it incorporated as a major military strategy as early as 1999. An example of China’s use of lawfare is when it drafted a new map to reassert its territorial claims and flex its muscles prior to the ASEAN and G20 Summits. Lawfare is one of China’s “Three Warfares” strategy, used to drive the country’s military influence operations. (The other two “warfares” are public opinion warfare and psychological warfare). States. See: Jill Goldenziel, “Law as a Battlefield: The U.S., China, And the Global Escalation of Lawfare,” Cornell Law Review, Vol. 106, 23 September 2021. https://www.cornelllawreview.org/2021/09/23/law-as-a-battlefield-the-u-s-china-and-the-global-escalation-of-lawfare/


Image Information:

Image: First and Second Island Chains
Source: Public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Geographic_Boundaries_of_the_First_and_Second_Island_Chains.png
Attribution: DoD


China Setting the Stage for Reunification

Map showing the proximity between China and Taiwan


“The CCP wrote the “one country, two systems” formula into its party constitution, which sets more definitive guidance on the party’s Taiwan policy.”


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) is predicting that unification with Taiwan is even higher on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s agenda now that he is in his third five-year term as president. According to Taiwan’s state-run national news agency Zhongyang Tongxunshe (Central News Agency), the MND bases its conclusion on plans and events over the past year. First,  during the 20th National Congress in October 2022, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) adopted the “one country, two systems” formula into its party constitution. The MND views this as providing definitive guidance on the CCP’s Taiwan policy. Second, during the 14th National People’s Congress in March 2023, Xi vowed to lead the CCP to “solidly” promote “the great cause of national reunification.”[i]

Finally, the generals appointed as members of the Central Military Commission, the military’s leading authority, have been those with experience in combat, military technology, and handling Taiwan-related matters.[ii] This was evident in the selection of the two vice chairmen, directly subordinate to Xi. First, Zhang Youxia was selected to serve another term as Vice Chairman. Particularly noteworthy is that Zhang’s selection went against China’s retirement norms: while the retirement age for the PLA is 68, Zhang was 72 when selected for this term. The flouting of these conventions is likely because Zhang has combat experience, although dated, from the 1979 Sino-Vietnam War. The second Vice Chairman, He Weidong, recently led the Eastern Theater Command, which is responsible for PLA operations in the East China Sea and Taiwan. These selections underscore Xi’s strategic thinking. Based on the article, it is important to note the MND is not predicting China will use force to unify with Taiwan by 2027. Rather, it assesses that China is ramping up efforts to promote reunification and build its military capability in the event force is used. As the MND points out, the PLA’s Rocket Force plans to establish precision strike capabilities by 2027 in the “first island chain” consisting of Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. However, the PLA also plans to establish a “comprehensive and versatile ground force” and push its naval and air force capabilities by 2035 to the “second island chain” consisting of Japan, Guam, and Micronesia. This will give China more capability to counter a potential offensive in support of Taiwan.


Sources:

Matt Yu and Shih Hsiu-chuan,“Pursuing Taiwan Unification High on Xi’s Third Term Agenda: MND,” Focus Taiwan: CNA English News (the national news agency of the Republic of China), 31 August 2023. https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202308310023

Pursuing unification with Taiwan is likely to be high on the agenda during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) third five-year term that began earlier this year, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a new report.

…At the congress, the CCP wrote the “one country, two systems” formula into its party constitution, which sets more definitive guidance on the party’s Taiwan policy, the MND said.

Another indication was the first speech given by Xi at the 14th National People’s Congress, after he was elected for an unprecedented third term as president, in which he vowed to lead the CCP to “solidly” promote the “great cause of national reunification,” it added.

Xi has prioritized those with expertise in military technology, combat experience and experience handling matters related to Taiwan in the appointing of CMC generals, the MND said.

The MND added that He Weidong (何衛東) was appointed to hold one of the two CMC vice chairmanships because he was well versed with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military readiness, which would be an asset in the event of a cross-Taiwan Strait conflict.

The MND said the PLA’s Rocket Force aims to establish precise strike capabilities against adversaries in the first island chain by 2027, referring to the chain of islands that make up Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines.It added that the PLA also aims to construct a comprehensive and versatile ground force, to modernize its navy so it is able to counter adversaries spanning from the first island chain to the second island chain by 2035, and to extend the attacking range of the air force to the second island chain by 2035.


Notes:

[i] For recent statements from the current Chinese leadership regarding the importance of Taiwan, see: Dodge Billingsley, “Chinese Officials Justify Reaction To Western Presence In Taiwan Strait,” OE Watch, 07-2023. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2023/chinese-officials-justify-reaction-to-western-presence-in-taiwan-strait-2/

[ii] For more information on the CMC’s current leadership, see: Brian Waidelich, “China’s New Military Leadership: Possible Strengths and Weaknesses,” Center for Naval Analyses, 11 November 2022. https://www.cna.org/our-media/indepth/2022/11/chinas-new-miliatry-leadership-possible-strengths-and-weaknesses


Image Information:

Image: Map showing the proximity between China and Taiwan
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995 – /media/File:Taiwan_Strait.png
Attribution: Public Domain


Chinese Cognitive Operations Might Impact Taiwan’s Will To Resist

President of TAIWAN Tsai Ing-wen reviews a Marine Corps battalion in Kaohsiung in July 2020


[The will to fight] depends on our (Taiwan’s) internal conditions. There are differences just on whether to resist China.”


Taiwan might not be prepared to resist a Chinese invasion, according to Shen Po-yang, an associate professor at the Institute of Criminology at Taipei University. The following article excerpt from Taiwan cable TV network Sanlih E-Television News highlights some of Shen’s remarks, which he gave during a meeting held by the World Taiwanese Association and the European Taiwan Association in Vilnius, Lithuania. Shen, who researches Chinese cognitive operations against Taiwan, attributes his conclusion to China’s growing technological capability in disinformation operations and Taiwan’s internal division. He explains that Chinese information operations against Taiwan primarily targets the 20 percent who consider themselves neutral, including those who are undecided on whether Taiwan should commit to war or surrender should the mainland invade. According to the article, a survey of Taiwan’s vulnerability to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) cognitive warfare shows how divided the country is in its beliefs. For example, according to the survey, less than 20 percent of people in Taiwan believe the disinformation comes from external forces; 30 percent believe it comes from China; 20 percent believe it comes from the United States; and 20 percent believe it comes from Japan. According to Shen, “The reality is very far away (from what people believe).” Complementing the technical aspects of Chinese cognitive operations, Shen sees Xi Jinping’s continued emphasis on the “China Dream” as an ideology to win over the people when the economy is bad and he concludes that Taiwan’s will to resist will depend on their internal conditions. A study in the Oxford Journal of Global Security Studies,[i] explains that China’s vast cognitive operations against Taiwan are conducted through various governmental departments and party agencies that deal with Taiwan affairs including the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, the United Front Work Department, the PLA, and Propaganda Department. The CCP’s primary goal is to promote unification and to increase Taiwan’s internal conflict and anti-independence views. The study describes four ways in which China conducts cognitive operations. First, China uses military intimidation as a kind of psychological manipulation to prevent Taiwan from seeking independence. Second, China uses economic and sociocultural factors to increase its influence by promoting bilateral exchange across the Taiwan Strait. Third, China uses Mazuism, a popular folk religion that originated in China but is practiced by 70 percent of Taiwan’s population, to strengthen its connection with Taiwan culturally. Finally, China uses disinformation and content farms on the internet to sway public opinion.[ii]


Sources:

“「台灣抵抗意志不如烏克蘭」學者:恐不及因應資訊戰 (Taiwan’s Will to Resist is Not as Good as Ukraine’s’; Scholar: It May Not Be Able to Cope With Information Warfare),” Sanlih E-Television News (Taiwan cable TV network), 11 September 2023. https://www.setn.com/News.aspx?NewsID=1351592&utm_campaign=viewallnews

Shen Boyang, a scholar who specializes in the CCP’s cognitive operations against Taiwan, said that he is worried that Taiwan does not have enough time to prepare for information warfare, because China’s technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, and Taiwan’s internal divisions have made The lack of will to resist China is different from the situation faced by countries such as Lithuania and Ukraine when facing Russia.

Shen Boyang pointed out at the forum that the main targets of China’s information manipulation on Taiwan are those who consider themselves neutral, neither blue nor green, including those who have not yet made up their minds on whether to commit war or surrender when facing the CCP’s invasion of Taiwan. This group of about 20% of Taiwanese people are gradually being China controls and locks in through cross-strait exchanges or the collection of personal information on the Internet.

His survey showed Taiwan’s vulnerability to the Chinese Communist Party’s cognitive warfare. For example, less than 20% of Taiwanese believe that fake news mainly comes from external forces, of which more than 30% point to China, but 20% each point to the United States or Japan. “With The reality is very far away.”

… there is the emotional aspect. After Xi Jinping came to power, he has continuously emphasized the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” internally, which may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because in the past, the CCP could rely on the economy to stabilize its internal affairs. “When the economy is good, there is no need to talk about great rejuvenation, but when the economy is bad, it must use ideology.”What worries him most is the will of the Taiwanese people to resist. “This depends on our internal conditions. There are differences just on whether to resist China.” …


Notes:

[i] Tzu-Chieh Hung and Tzu-Wei Hung, “How China’s Cognitive Warfare Works: A Frontline Perspective of Taiwan’s Anti-Disinformation Wars,” Journal of Global Security studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2022 https://academic.oup.com/jogss/article/7/4/ogac016/6647447

[ii] Social media has an important role in China’s cognitive warfare tactics. Social media can be used to spread “deepfakes” and “accelerationism” to deliberately manipulate emotions and collective consciousness to sway public opinion and exacerbate polarization. For more information, see Cindy Hurst, “Chinese Observations on the Role and Impact of Social Media in Cognitive Warfare,” OE Watch, 05-2022 https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2022/chinese-observations-on-the-role-and-impact-of-social-media-in-cognitive-warfare/; and Cindy Hurst, “China Wages Cognitive Warfare To Shape Taiwanese Public Opinion,” OE Watch, 02-2022. https://fmso.tradoc.army.mil/2022/china-wages-cognitive-warfare-to-shape-taiwanese-public-opinion/


Image Information:

Image: President of TAIWAN Tsai Ing-wen reviews a Marine Corps battalion in Kaohsiung in July 2020
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_China_Marine_Corps – /media/File:President_of_TAIWAN_Tsai_Ing-wen_reviews_a_Marine_Corps_battalion_in_Kaohsiung_in_July_2020_臺灣總統蔡英文校閱海軍陸戰隊九九旅步二營.jpg
Attribution: CC By 2.0


Vietnam Taking Diplomatic Approach to Spratly Islands Territorial Disputes

Vietnam People’s Navy honor guard at ASEAN defense ministers meeting in 2010.


“The presentations examined many aspects of the East Sea and the issue of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the sea and islands from historical, cultural, political, and legal perspectives.”


In June, the Vietnamese Embassy in France hosted a conference in Paris to reaffirm Vietnamese sovereignty of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. As reported in the Vietnamese-language publication baotintuc.com, the conference was attended by the Vietnamese Ambassador to France, European scholars on Vietnam, and Vietnamese citizens in Europe who had previously visited the Spratly Islands.[i] Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei each lay claim to territory in the island chain.[ii] Conference attendees examined the historical, cultural, political, and legal perspectives on the Spratly Islands, and concluded with a consensus for Vietnam to avoid using force to regain sovereignty over the islands. The scholars stated that historical evidence showed Vietnam had occupied the islands since at least 300 years ago. They urged Vietnam to use diplomacy and negotiations as well as displays of solidarity with allied nations to push forward their territorial claims.[iii] The conference attendees further emphasized the need not just for older Vietnamese to support the Vietnamese Navy and to donate money to the cause, but also for Vietnamese youth and the international Vietnamese community to stand beside Vietnam. Consistent with this diplomatic approach to the Spratly Islands, Vietnam has also avoided direct naval confrontations in the South China Sea.[iv] For example, as the second excerpted Vietnamese-language article from tienphong.com notes, Taiwan conducted live-fire military training drills near the islands. Vietnam responded by announcing its opposition to the drills and demanded that they be canceled, stating that Taiwan was threatening peace in the South China Sea. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry also asserted it had legal and historical justification to claim sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.[CR1]


Sources:

“Biển Đông và chủ quyền biển đảo Việt Nam dưới góc nhìn của các học giả châu Âu (East Sea and Vietnam’s sovereignty over the sea and islands from the perspective of European scholars)” baotintuc.vn (Vietnamese publication covering hot topics in domestic and international affairs concerning Vietnam), 11 June 2023. https://baotintuc.vn/thoi-su/bien-dong-va-chu-quyen-bien-dao-viet-nam-duoi-goc-nhin-cua-cac-hoc-gia-chau-au-20230611102242092.htm

On June 10, in Paris, France, a scientific conference with the theme “East Sea and Vietnam’s sovereignty issues” took place with the participation of a large number of Vietnamese scholars and admirers of the sea and islands. On this occasion, a meeting between overseas Vietnamese who had visited the Spratlys was held together with an exhibition of photos and artifacts about this archipelago. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to France, Dinh Toan Thang, highly appreciated the efforts of individuals and associations contributing to organizing the workshop. 

The situation in the East Sea, and solutions to handle disputes and options for marine economic development, were mentioned by the speakers. Mr. Patrice Jorland, professor of History and former president of the France-Vietnam Friendship Association, stated that, according to the law of the sea and international law, Vietnam has a large exclusive economic zone. Mr. Jorland claimed Vietnam has sovereignty in the East Sea. Regarding sovereignty over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa, he said that historical evidence shows that Vietnam has asserted sovereignty over these two archipelagoes, especially Hoang Sa, since the late 18th century, under the Nguyen Dynasty.

As for Ms. Malgorzata Pietrasiak, a professor at the University of Lodz in Poland, an expert on Vietnam, she highly respected Vietnam’s method of handling issues at sea, which she calls “hedging.” According to her, this is a wise, flexible, and peaceful strategy devoid of tension, but also is not giving in…. With 14 presentations, the workshop contributed to bringing to the public perspectives and initiatives for mutual building and developing on the basis of respecting each other’s sovereignty and territory.


“Việt Nam phản đối Đài Loan tập trận ở Trường Sa (Vietnam opposes Taiwanese drills in Truong Sa)” tienphong.vn(Government-owned Vietnamese daily newspaper), 8 June 2023. https://tienphong.vn/viet-nam-phan-doi-dai-loan-tap-tran-o-truong-sa-post1541256.tpoOn June 7, Taiwan conducted a live-fire drill in the waters around Ba Binh in the Spratly archipelago of Vietnam. Vietnam strongly opposes this and demands that Taiwan cancel illegal activities. On June 8, in response to a reporter’s question about Vietnam’s response to this activity, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Pham Thu Hang stated “Vietnam has a full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Truong Sa archipelago…. Therefore, Taiwan holding a live-fire drill in the waters around Ba Binh in the Spratly archipelago of Vietnam is a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over this archipelago and threatens peace, stability, safety, and maritime security, while creating tensions and complicating the situation in the East Sea.”


Notes:

[i] Although the South China Sea is the name most associated with the body of water shared by Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, Vietnam refers to this body of water as the East Sea. A similar naming dispute occurs between South Korea, North Korea, and Japan. Japan refers to the body of water separating itself from the Korean Peninsula as the Sea of Japan, whereas North Korea refers to it as the Korea East Sea while South Korea refers to it simply as the East Sea. The naming of these bodies of water is entangled in the struggle for territory and sovereignty over the regions in question. Regarding Korea and Japan, U.S. officials have historically referred to the waterway as the Sea of Japan, at times raising the ire of South Korean leaders.

[ii] China, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim sovereignty over the entirety of the Spratly Islands. The Philippines, in contrast, only claims sovereignty over several features in the Kalayaan Island Group, while Malaysia also claims only some features and Brunei claims one reef. In terms of control, Vietnam occupies 26 features in the Spratly Islands, while the Philippines occupies nine, China occupies seven, Malaysia occupies five, and Taiwan occupies one. The contesting parties have officially sought to settle the dispute through bilateral agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), but all efforts have ended without a permanent solution. See Hasan, Monjur and Jian, He, “Spratly Islands Dispute in the South China Sea: Potential Solutions,” Journal of East Asia and International Law, 2019, 12(1), pp. 145-168.

[iii] Vietnam claims its occupation of the Spratly Islands can be traced to the Nguyen lords, who from the 1600s annually sailed to the Bai Cat Vang island groups to retrieve shipwrecked goods and remained in the archipelago for up to six months. During the reign of the Nguyen emperors from the early 1800s, there is documentation that identified the Truong Sa archipelago from the Hoang Sa Islands in the Spratly Islands as Vietnamese possessions. It was not until the French protectorate was established over Vietnam in 1884 that sovereignty over the islands became contested. Kelly, Todd C., “Vietnamese Claims to the Truong Sa Archipelago,” Explorations in Southeast Asian Studies, Fall 1999, 3, pp. 1-21.

[iv] For a short video documentary on tensions in the South China Sea, see: South China Sea, Chinaboundaries.com. https://chinaboundaries.com/map/south-china-sea/; and Eric Hyer, Pragmatic Dragon: China’s Grand Strategy and Boundary Settlements, UBC Press (2015), Chapter 12 (pages 236-262).


Image Information:

Image: Vietnam People’s Navy honor guard at ASEAN defense ministers meeting in 2010.
Source: Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison, U.S. Air Forcehttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vietnam_People%27s_Navy_honor_guard_at_ASEAN_defense_ministers_meeting_2010-10-12_1.jpg
Attribution: (CC x 2.0)


People’s Liberation Army Advancing Expertise in Combat Medical Support

The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), top, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy hospital ship Peace Ark (T-AH 866) transit the Pacific Ocean July 22, 2014, during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in 2014.


“Recently, a practical medical service drill organized by the 961st Hospital of the Joint Logistics Support Force was launched at a field comprehensive training ground.”


Beijing’s ability to successfully treat wounded soldiers and sailors would likely be a factor when deciding to enter into most conflicts. A People’s Liberation Army (PLA) source has stated that China could expect 120,000 casualties in an amphibious invasion of Taiwan. Even such a large projected number of casualties is unlikely to deter the PLA from entering into a conflict when it involves the core issue of Taiwan. As such, the PLA is showing a focus on care for the wounded. Authoritative PLA publications provide detailed information on planned battlefield medical support and evacuation of wounded from the company level back to field hospitals and fixed PLA hospitals.[i]

The 961st Hospital of the Shenyang Joint Logistic Support Center in the Northern Theater Command recently held a battlefield medical drill, according to the first excerpted article from the official PRC military newspaper PLA Daily. Casualties were reported at a frontline unit and a field medical team sent a triage team forward. The triage team used a drone to locate three soldiers with minor injuries and a seriously wounded soldier. Three nurses were sent to the slightly wounded troops, and a doctor, nurse, health worker, and driver were sent to evacuate the seriously injured soldier. The seriously wounded soldier was transported to a field medical aid post, likely at battalion or brigade level, where a serious injury treatment team provided a blood transfusion. The team matched and drew blood for transfusion to the injured at the site when the on-hand supply was depleted.

The second excerpted PLA article, published on the Ministry of Defense website, described the Naval Medical University providing training for maritime medical support. The university sent a medical team to a naval unit in the Eastern Theater Command to research maritime medical support requirements and explore new support methods. The team submitted a report to the university proposing solutions. The university report recommended to regularize sending teams to fleets, increase training, and more timely medical support and delivery of medicines. The university strengthened its links with surface ships, submarines, and naval aviation units to track medical requirements and improve military medical education.

The PLA is serious about treating and evacuating sick and wounded personnel from the battlefield as well as providing maritime medical support.[ii] The PLA is also incorporating unmanned aerial vehicles into medical units to locate wounded on the battlefield. PLA medical universities are working with Naval and tactical units to determine requirements and problem areas in medical support to find solutions. Naval medical support is a key area where the PLA publication cited above notes weaknesses in medical treatment at sea.


Sources:

“联勤保障部队第961医院组织实战化卫勤演练 (The 961st Hospital of the Joint Logistics Support Force Organizes a Practical Medical Service Drill),” PLA Daily (Official PRC Military Newspaper), 22 May 2023. http://www.81.cn/szb_223187/szbxq/index.html?paperName=jfjb&paperDate=2023-05-22&paperNumber=02&articleid=906347

 “Saving lives is the core task of the field medical team, “Zhu Siqiang told reporters. During the peacekeeping mission, he encountered multiple times when a blood bank was in urgent need. In such a crisis, on-site blood sampling and emergency treatment were used to save the lives of his comrades. In this drill, they set up a training program for difficult and dangerous situations, which is to strengthen the battlefield awareness and emergency response ability of officers and soldiers and ensure that medical personnel can go, be saved, and be cured at critical moments.


“海军军医大学:学用结合,锤炼海上卫勤保障精兵 (Naval Medical University: Combining Learning with Practice, Training Elite Soldiers in Maritime Medical Support),” Ministry of Defense website, 22 May 2023. http://www.mod.gov.cn/gfbw/gfjy_index/jsyxgfs/16225710.html

“In recent days, a group of members from the Party Committee of the Naval Medical University led a medical team to research medical support needs at the grassroots level in conjunction with the “Delivery of Health to Sea” activity, such as going to high mountains and islands, boarding ship positions, and visiting hospital departments…We need to closely monitor the new challenges and requirements posed by the transformation and development of the Navy for medical support, ensuring that wherever ships navigate, our medical support follows suit; wherever Navy forces are deployed, our medical support follows suit. In the theme of education, the leadership of the school’s party committee and government officials read the original text to understand the principles, follow up on the spirit of Chairman Xi Jinping’s latest important speech, and guide officers and soldiers to love the navy’s construction and dedicating oneself to the navy, promoting the high-quality development of naval medical support work in the new era, and ensuring solid results in theme education.”


Notes:

[i] 全军后勤学术研究中心 (All Army Logistics Academic Research Center), 作战后勤保障 (Operational Logistics Support), (no publishing data), February 2017, this is an internal publication to inform the leadership.

[ii] For more on planned battlefield medical support, see: Kevin McCauley, China Maritime Report No. 22: Logistics Support for a Cross-Strait Invasion: The View from Beijing, US Naval War College China Maritime Studies Institute, July 2022. https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cmsi-maritime-reports/22/


Image Information:

Image: The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), top, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy hospital ship Peace Ark (T-AH 866) transit the Pacific Ocean July 22, 2014, during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in 2014.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:140722-N-VY375-775_(14718333126).jpg
Attribution: Public Domain, U.S. Department of Defense

Chinese Officials Justify Reaction to Western Presence in Taiwan Strait

Monument of Recognition of Taiwan on Hainan Island, (Tai Wan Dao – Taiwan Island)


“[Chinese Foreign Minister] Qin Gang pointed out that the Taiwan issue is the core of China’s core interests, the most important issue in Sino-US relations, and the most prominent risk.”


Taiwan is a “core interest”[i] of China’s. As such, recent military operations by the United States and other Western powers near Taiwan have elicited a strong Chinese response. On 26 May 2023, a Chinese J-16 [RG1]  fighter aircraft intercepted an RC-135 American reconnaissance aircraft in the skies above a Chinese naval exercise featuring the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong. On 3 June, a Chinese naval ship intercepted and cut off the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon while it transited the Taiwan Strait with the Canadian frigate HMCS Montréal.

According to the Global Times, a subsidiary of China’s flagship People’s Daily, a spokesperson at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command stated that the PLA Navy “tracked and monitored them [USS Chung-Hoon and HMCS Montréal] through the whole course, and handled the situation in accordance with law and regulations.” . This was almost identical to a statement by the PLA Southern Theater Command, which a week earlier claimed that aerial forces were organized to “track and monitor it [the RC-135] through its entire course, with maneuvers in a professional manner and in accordance with law and regulations.”[ii] Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang clarified China’s position on Taiwan to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken while the two met in Beijing two weeks later, according to a statement published on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Qin told Blinken that, “Taiwan is the core of China’s core interests” China’s recent military actions have been bolder towards both Taiwan and U.S. naval and aircraft operating in the region. Repeated aggressive responses to what China considers provocations, while not necessarily a trend, illustrate its willingness to engage in brinkmanship regarding Taiwan, perhaps to persuade Western powers to rethink military and political support for the island.[iii]


Sources:

Liu Xuanzun, “PLA handles US, Canadian warships in provocative Taiwan Straits transit amid Shangri-La Dialogue, forcing US vessel to alter course,” Global Times (Chinese daily under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily). 4 June 2023. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202306/1291897.shtml

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) handled a provocative transit in the Taiwan Straits made by US and Canadian warships on Saturday, with a Chinese destroyer reportedly forcing the US vessel to alter course by cutting in front of it, showing determination and capability in countering the provocation, experts said on Sunday.

Coming against the background of the US failing to arrange a meeting between Chinese and US defense chiefs during the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore amid rising tensions, the latest Taiwan Straits transit, led by the US, again showed the US’ lack of sincerity, analysts said.

The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoonand the Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Montréal made a transit through the Taiwan Straits on Saturday, and the PLA Eastern Theater Command organized naval and aerial forces, tracked and monitored them through the whole course, and handled the situation in accordance with law and regulations, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesperson at the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement late on Saturday.

Shi’s statement came after the US and Canada hyped their warships’ transit through the Taiwan Straits, including Canadian news outlet Global News releasing a video on Saturday, which showed a PLA Navy Type 052D destroyer picking up speed and cutting in front of the bow of the USS Chung-Hoon from left to right, forcing the US warship to alter course and slow down to avoid a crash as the two vessels were reportedly within 150 yards (137 meters.)

The maneuvers in the Taiwan Straits share resemblances to another recent incident in which a PLA Air Force J-16 fighter jet intercepted a US RC-135 reconnaissance plane when the latter attempted to spy on the PLA Navy Shandong aircraft carrier group’s routine training in the South China Sea on May 26, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.

Both incidents were caused by US provocations in sensitive regions on China’s doorsteps, followed by US failure to listen to Chinese radio warnings, led to professional PLA tactical maneuvers, which were then hyped by Western media attempting to shift blame to China, hype “China threat” and pressure China on the Shangri-La Dialogue, the expert said.

It showed that the US has no sincerity at all in communicating with the Chinese side, and if any accident happens, it would be the US who must shoulder the blame, the expert said.


“秦刚同美国国务卿布林肯举行会谈 (Qin Gang Holds Talks with US Secretary of State Blinken),” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, 18 June 2023. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/wjbzhd/202306/t20230619_11099462.shtml

Qin Gang said that at present, Sino-US relations are at the lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic relations. This does not conform to the fundamental interests of the two peoples, nor does it meet the common expectations of the international community. China’s policy toward the United States has always maintained continuity and stability. It is fundamentally based on the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation proposed by President Xi Jinping. China is committed to building a stable, predictable and constructive Sino-US relationship. It is hoped that the U.S. side will uphold an objective and rational understanding of China, meet China halfway, maintain the political foundation of Sino-U.S. relations, and handle unexpected incidents calmly, professionally and rationally. The two sides should fully implement the consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and President Biden at the Bali meeting, so as to promote the stabilization of Sino-US relations and get them back on track.

Qin Gang clarified his solemn position and made clear demands on China’s core interests and major concerns including the Taiwan issue. Qin Gang pointed out that the Taiwan issue is the core of China’s core interests, the most important issue in Sino-US relations, and the most prominent risk. Promises are truly delivered.

The two sides had a long period of candid, in-depth and constructive communication on the overall relationship between China and the United States and related important issues.The two sides agreed to jointly implement the important consensus reached at the Bali meeting between the two heads of state, effectively manage and control differences, and promote dialogue, exchanges and cooperation.


Notes:

[i] The Chinese wording on the statement regarding “core interest” from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads as follows: “台湾问题是中国核心利益中的核心.”

[iii] For additional information regarding growing tensions regarding Taiwan, see: Dodge Billingsley, Taiwan Sees ‘Shift’ in China’s Grey Zone Warfare,” OE Watch, January 2021. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/380556


Image Information:

Image: Monument of Recognition of Taiwan on Hainan Island, (Tai Wan Dao – Taiwan Island)
Source: Author’s own photo
Attribution: By Author’s permission


Honduran Presidential Visit Kicks Off New Relations With China

President Xiomara Castro meets with a representative of Taiwan on her inauguration day in 2022


“Castro opened the visit… in Shanghai; starting the agenda in that important metropolis illustrates the interest in strengthening commercial ties.”


Honduran President Xiomara Castro campaigned on a diplomatic switch from her country’s recognition of Taiwan, recognized since 1949, to that of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Talk of abandoning Taiwan subsided after her election. However, she announced in March 2023 that the country would switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC in an effort to gain financing for a hydroelectric dam project and to lower its external debt burden.[i] President Castro made a weeklong visit to mainland China to inaugurate these new relations, where Honduras opened its first embassy and officially acceded to the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Prensa Latina, a Cuban government outlet. Castro visited the New Development Bank—commonly known as the BRICS Bank—and requested membership for Honduras, according to Prensa Latina. Castro followed that visit with a stop at Huawei headquarters.

Castro also secured a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping, according to La Prensa, a Honduran newspaper. He praised her courage, promised to negotiate a free trade agreement with Honduras, and agreed to promote the entrance of Honduran agricultural goods into the Chinese market. The outlet reported that Honduras will present China with a list of infrastructure projects for financing, likely focusing on ports. Honduras’ diplomatic switch to the PRC leaves Taiwan with just 13 remaining countries who recognize its sovereignty, seven of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean.[ii] The Western Hemisphere will remain the epicenter of the PRC’s efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, with Central America and the Caribbean likely to be its principal focus.[iii]


Sources:

“Honduras abre su embajada en China (Honduras opens its embassy in China),” Prensa Latina (Cuban government outlet that covers issues of importance to its allies), 11 June 2023. https://www.prensa-latina.cu/2023/06/11/honduras-abre-su-embajada-en-china

Honduras inaugurated its embassy, after China did so last week in its capital…Castro opened the visit…in Shanghai; and starting the agenda in that important metropolis illustrates the interest in strengthening commercial ties. In fact, she requested the country’s accession to the New Development Bank, popularly called the BRICS Bank, during a meeting with the president of the entity, the Brazilian Dilma Rousseff, and later spoke with executives of the Huawei technology company.


“Gobierno de Honduras pedirá el apoyo a China para puertos (Government of Honduras Will Ask China for Support for Ports),” La Prensa (Honduran newspaper based in the business capital of San Pedro Sula), 15 June 2023. https://www.laprensa.hn/honduras/politica-gobierno-honduras-pedira-apoyo-china-para-puertos-KI13931748

Several projects have been discussed since it was necessary to pass this phase of the president’s visit to go into specific issues…Naturally, infrastructure issues are a priority…Honduras and China recently signed 22 documents in Beijing and next week it is expected that Honduran products such as coffee and bananas will begin to reach China.


Notes:

[i] To read more about potential lessons for Taiwan and its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean, see: Ryan Berg and Leland Lazarus, “What Taiwan Can Learn from Honduras’s Switch to China,” Foreign Policy, 31 March 2023. https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/03/31/latin-america-taiwan-china-honduras-united-states-diplomacy-tsai/

[ii] OE Watch has covered China’s expanding influence in Latin America, with a particular emphasis on Central America, where Taiwan is losing formal diplomatic allies. For example, see: Catalina Wedman, “China’s Growing Influence on the Latin American Economy,” OE Watch, October 2018, https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-singular-format/266517

[iii] For more on Taiwan’s future in the Western Hemisphere and its difficulty maintaining allies, see: Ryan Berg and Wazim Mowla, “Taiwan’s Future in Latin America and the Caribbean,” The Diplomat, 1 September 2022. https://thediplomat.com/2022/09/taiwans-future-in-latin-america-and-the-caribbean/


Image Information:

Image: President Xiomara Castro meets with a representative of Taiwan on her inauguration day in 2022
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:01.27_%E3%80%8C%E5%89%AF%E7%B8%BD%E7%B5%B1%E7%8E%87%E5%9C%98%E5%87%BA%E5%B8%AD%E5%AE%8F%E9%83%BD%E6%8B%89%E6%96%AF%E5%85%B1%E5%92%8C%E5%9C%8B%E7%B8%BD%E7%B5%B1%E5%8D%A1%E8%95%AC%E6%A5%9A%E5%B0%B1%E8%81%B7%E5%85%B8%E7%A6%AE%E3%80%8D%E5%90%91%E5%8D%A1%E8%95%AC%E6%A5%9A%E7%B8%BD%E7%B5%B1%E7%95%B6%E9%81%B8%E4%BA%BA%E8%87%B4%E6%84%8F%E4%B8%A6%E5%91%88%E9%81%9E%E7%89%B9%E4%BD%BF%E5%9C%8B%E6%9B%B8_-_51845921976.jpg
Attribution: Wikimedia, CC-BY 2.0


China Justifies Naval Pressure Against Japan

JS Kurama sails in the East China Sea during a trilateral exercise, June 2021.

JS Kurama sails in the East China Sea during a trilateral exercise, June 2021.


“When Sino-Japanese relations become extremely tense, there will be another reconnaissance ship that will continue to perform missions in the waters surrounding Japan.”


On 10 May, the Chinese-language website sohu.com published the below excerpted article, which justifies Chinese naval activities in the East Sea as a response to perceived hostile actions by Japan. Moreover, the article indicates that Chinese pressure against Japan is achieving positive results. According to the article, a Chinese naval reconnaissance ship entered the Sea of Japan through the Tsushima Strait between South Korea and Japan, sailed around Japanese territory, and came within only six nautical miles the Japanese coast.[i] While the article refrains from claiming any strategic benefits, it argues the operation succeeded in frightening and thus sending a message to Japan.

The article also claims that Japanese media has interpreted the Chinese naval activities as treating Japan as an enemy. It suggests that as long as Sino-Japanese relations remain tense, Chinese naval reconnaissance ships will continue performing missions in the waters surrounding Japan. Likewise, the article notes that China dispatched several destroyers and other naval ships to conduct live fire drills in the East Sea after pro-Taiwan remarks were made by officials at the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Nagano, Japan. The end of the article alludes to the alliance between China and Russia, where it notes that Japan erred by trying to restore militarism and embracing confrontation with China and Russia.[ii] As a result of this, the article argues that Japan was exhausting its Self-Defense Forces in dealing with both Chinese and Russian military pressure. This implies that China is employing a strategy of weakening the Japanese military through over-extending its forces and wearing it down, a strategy China continues to use against Taiwan.


Source:

“解放军军舰横穿日本,距离海岸仅6海里,海自如临大敌 (The warships of the People’s Liberation Army went across Japan, only 6 nautical miles from the coast, and freely encountered the enemy),” sohu.com (popular pro-government Chinese-language website targeting a youth and gaming readership), 10 May 2023. https://www.sohu.com/a/674302624_121462986

Japan has become an anti-China bridgehead, and the reconnaissance ships of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) approached its territorial waters to frighten the Self-Defense Forces sufficiently. According to the news released by the Ministry of Defense of Japan, the reconnaissance ship sailed around Japan in three weeks…. At the closest time, it was only about 6 nautical miles from the Japanese mainland.

When Sino-Japanese relations are extremely tense, there will be another reconnaissance ship that will continue to perform missions in the waters surrounding Japan.

In response to remarks related to Taiwan made at the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting, China not only rejected such ludicrous remarks diplomatically. At the same time, a destroyer from the navy in the Eastern Theater Command of the PLA was dispatched to conduct live-fire shooting training in a specific area of the East China Sea.In recent years, Japan has had to face regular military pressure from China and Russia, which has exhausted its Self-Defense Forces.


Notes:

[i] The Tsushima Strait was the site of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905 in which Japan was victorious. More than one century later, since 2020, Japan has observed an increase in Russian naval ships that have passed through the Tsushima Strait and Soya Strait to its north nearly twice as often than a decade earlier. This has concerned the Japanese Ministry of Defense. See Japan Ministry of Defense, “Development of Russian Armed Forces in the Vicinity of Japan,” mod.go.jp, September 2021. https://www.mod.go.jp/en/d_act/sec_env/pdf/ru_d-act_e_210906.pdf

[ii] Although Japan has been upgrading its military capabilities over the past several years, this has been amid—and generally in response to—a military build-up by China. Further, Japan has consistently since the 1990s spent only between .09% and 1% of its GDP on the military. China, however, has viewed Japan as engaging in “military expansion planning” and has strongly criticized Japan for this.  For more, see: Sheila A. Smith, “How Japan Is Upgrading Its Military,” CFR, February 24, 2021. https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/how-japan-upgrading-its-military


Image Information:

Image: JS Kurama sails in the East China Sea during a trilateral exercise, June 2021.
Source: Paul Kelly https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JS_Kurama_sails_in_the_East_China_Sea_during_a_trilateral_exercise,_-21_Jun._2012_a.jpg
Attribution: CC x 2.0