TAIPEI (CNA) – China’s military activities in the Western Pacific and its military deployments in the South China Sea are indicators of Beijing’s efforts to strengthen its military power, said Taiwanese media pundit and military expert Qi Yue-yi (亓樂義) in an exclusive interview with CNA.
Meanwhile, the multiple encroachment of Chinese military surveillance aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) earlier this year also represents an attempt by China to show off its modern day military might and test Taiwan’s political and military response capabilities, according to Qi, who is an advisor to the minister of national defense on military issues.
Qi said China’s People Liberation Army has expanded its global footprint in recent years as evidenced by its establishment of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea in 2013 and the increasing frequency of its far-sea training activities.
In addition, PLA military aircraft and vessels have also flown and sailed near southern Taiwan and into the western Pacific via the Miyako Strait, which lies between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, and is part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, but includes a narrow band of international water and airspace.
Chinese fighter jets and ships have also regularly crossed the “first island chain,” which refers to the first major archipelagos off the East Asian continental mainland, including the Japanese
archipelago, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and the northern Philippines, he said.
Noting that Beijing has completed military construction work on several man-made islands in the South China Sea, Qi said it is expected to add new installations including airfields with runways on those islands to strengthen its ability to project influence in the area.
Meanwhile, Qi said the aim of China’s military buildup is partially directed at foreign interference in cross-Taiwan Strait relations. With this in mind, the PLA will continue military deployments that target Taiwan and even try to pressure Taiwan to scale down its military exercises.
Qi’s comments came after Chinese President Xi Jinping stated his desire to reform the nation’s military and “build world-class armed forces that obey the party’s command, and can fight and win wars,” during the opening session of the 19th National Congress Of the Communist Party Of China (CPC) on Wednesday.
Xi’s remarks on national defense and army building were a repeat of a guideline on deepening national defense and military reform released by the Central Military Commission in 2016, according to Qi. •
By Miao Zong-han and Evelyn Kao