FPI / December 1, 2021
By Richard Fisher
China used its official media to hint that it would use its air force possibly to shoot down aircraft carrying United States officials visiting Taiwan.
While the Biden Administration has yet to respond that that suggestion, and probably will not in order to avoid showing fear, it raises the difficult question of how Washington, Taipei and U.S. allies should respond to such attacks.
Late on Nov. 25, five members of the United States House of Representatives (4 Democrats, 1 Republican) made an unannounced two-day visit to Taiwan, meeting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on the 26th, the second such visit by a U.S. Congressional delegation within two weeks.
China responded on the 26th with immediate indignation, with Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian calling the visit a “violation of the One China principle,” and saying, “That individual U.S. politicians wantonly challenge the one-China principle and embolden the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces has aroused the strong indignation of 1.4 billion Chinese people.”
Since the 1949 victory of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) revolution that chased the Kuomintang Party government to the island of Taiwan, the CCP has claimed that island as its own, forbade any country to have formal relations with the government in Taipei, has regarded Taiwan’s transition to democracy as a mortal threat to the CCP’s continued dictatorship, and has spent the last three decades preparing for and now threatening invade the island democracy.
Over the last five years the CCP has been creating military tension over Taiwan by conducting nearly daily military flights and naval action around the island, increasing the chances of military incidents, which has probably contributed to the recent U.S. decision not to announce the visit of Congressional delegations to Taiwan.
But what if this minor though justified concession to safety has signaled to the CCP that there is an exploitable American fear? ….
To drive home the point that this was a response to the visit to Taipei by members of the U.S. Congress, on Nov. 27 the Global Times stated:
“The PLA Eastern Theater Command’s action on Friday [Nov. 26] is apparently targeting the U.S.’s interference in the Taiwan question…The PLA Eastern Theater Command conducted similar patrols in response to a group of U.S. congressman’s visit to the island of Taiwan on Nov. 9.”
That same day, the Global Time’s twitter page stated, “It is possible that the #PLA was waiting for the U.S. congressman’s plane when they entered the self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone of the island of Taiwan and saw them leaving.”
It is not possible from open information to confirm that PLA combat aircraft were indeed waiting to shadow the U.S. Air Force C-40 executive transport aircraft carrying the members of the U.S. Congress, but it appears that the CCP is willing to use its state media to create fears that it is considering attacking aircraft that may carry U.S. officials to Taiwan.
Such a suggestion by the CCP recalls the Sept. 1, 1983 destruction by Soviet Air Force Su-15 fighters of Korean Airlines flight 007, killing 269 passengers and crew including the conservative Democrat, U.S. Rep. Larry McDonald of Georgia. ….
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