Saturday, October 1

China’s military drill in Taiwan ends, future conflict begins

A Taiwan Air Force Mirage 2000-5 aircraft lands at Hsinchu Air Base. / Reuters

The Asian giant’s Army ends four days of maneuvers around the island that open a new era of militarism in the region

The breeze rocks the tops of the trees and the cicadas stridulate, but an intermittent mechanical roar prevails over both summer jingles. The noise does not come from the wild nature that surrounds Houlincun, “the town in front of the forest”, but from the location behind the thicket, hidden behind the fence and protected by soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army: the Longtian air base.

From here, fighter planes like the ones that are now warming up their engines have taken off in recent days to participate in unprecedented military maneuvers, with which China intends to intimidate Taiwan for receiving Nancy Pelosi. The visit of the president of the House of Representatives of the United States, the most important in a quarter of a century, has shaken a conflict destined, in the short, medium or long term but apparently without remedy, to a conclusion by arms.

China triggers tension and rehearses the invasion of Taiwan

«Yes, I have heard them», answers the worker in charge of taking advantage of the school holidays to restore the school. «Our country is strong», he adds with the last brushstrokes to the classroom that occupies him. On the wall, the faces of model citizens like the young recruit Lei Feng, half man, half propaganda, line up smiling. Interferences chop up the signal from mobile phones, beeps that show the safety of the area. A neighbor greets the passing stranger imposing the obligation to obtain the permission of the local head of the Communist Party.

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Images captured by the satellite observation company ‘Planet Labs’ prove that, since last year, China has begun to expand the capacity of Longtian and other bases near the Strait of Formosa. Fighters quartered in these hangars would take less than seven minutes to reach the island. But, for now, his mission has been nothing more than an intimidating show, a simulated suffocation.

predictable contest

During the exercises that concluded this Sunday, the armed forces have deployed air and naval troops in six positions around Taiwan, putting into practice for four days the blockade that would precede a hypothetical invasion, which would require the largest amphibious assault in the history. China has also fired at least 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles, which have flown over the island for the first time before falling to the north, east and south of its shores.

The regime considers Taiwan a rebellious province that it has never renounced to submit by force, the irresolute epilogue of the civil war between communists and nationalists; ambition that faces the US commitment to come to their aid, reiterated this Wednesday by Pelosi. “We will not abandon you,” he proclaimed in Taipei before President Tsai Ing-wen. Therefore, the territory also represents – in the words of the Chinese Foreign Ministry – “the most sensitive issue in the relationship” between the two powers, which is going through the worst moment since its establishment in the 1970s, already on the ground. of open confrontation.

A pulse separated by just ten kilometers

The end of the drills thus marks the beginning of a more military and explicit hostility in the Strait of Formosa. Taiwan announced this Sunday that next week it will begin its own live-fire exercises, in which it will test its defensive strength. China, for its part, will start a new round in the Bohai Sea and south of the Yellow Sea, aimed at repelling a theoretical counterattack by allied countries, in particular the US and Japan. Not surprisingly, five of the projectiles aimed at Taiwan ended up in the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, also an unprecedented action.

authentic war

The sun sets over the Chinese coast overlooking the Strait of Formosa. From the breakwater, some people greet the fishing boats that return to port after fishing. The sky in previous days crossed by missiles darkens today in peace, but on the horizon you can still see, crouching, the relief of the Matsu Islands, one of the archipelagos under Taiwanese control closest to the mainland.

The last surprise of the day, however, is yet to come. It is not this that, before the burgundy cover of the Spanish passport, the owner of the only pension that admits foreigners greets with a “Hello, friend”. No: before the revelation that new cases of covid have been detected this afternoon in the Beijing neighborhood where one of the newcomers resides, two thousand kilometers away, the reception panics. Mrs. Zhao, who for eight years worked as a seamstress in Barcelona, ​​​​excitedly distributes masks everywhere and calls the authorities for instructions. China is indeed engaged in a war, but one in which fighter planes are useless.

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