Last week, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her love for Indian dishes like chana masala, naan and, of course, chai.
Of late, the Republic of Taiwan and India have come closer than ever before. A few months ago, some Indian Members of Parliament also joined Ing-wen’s swearing-in ceremony through video conferencing.
Taipei is likely to be inducted as the next member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, which is being billed as preparatory for the formation of an ‘Asian NATO’ next year. The US, Australia, India and Japan are the founding members of Quad for security in the Asia-Pacific Region.
This recent development has further irked China, which claims the island of Taiwan its own.
In politics, they say, having a good advisor is half-work-accomplished. And a bad advisor is a sure recipe for disaster.
Nobody knows this better than the saner leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who are against the suicidal policies of their own President-for-Life, Xi Jinping. After the miscalculations in Ladakh, they are mighty worried about the clique of hand-picked advisors prodding Jinping to go ballistic against all and sundry, if only to buttress his own diluted image at home.
That is why China is refusing to learn lessons and trying to recreate the “Middle Kingdom” of the medieval era, the way Beijing’s latest ally Turkey is attempting to revive the medieval Ottoman Empire a century after it was buried. China’s last emperor, Hsian-T’ung, was also forced to abdicate in 1912.
China has been trying to flex muscles in the South China Sea for long. After an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation against India in Ladakh, which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had fancied as a cakewalk—it has resulted in a nearly five-month-long standoff, despite seven rounds of high-level talks—China is now reported to be preparing to cut off its own nose in Taiwan.
Media reports, quoting defence advisors and the South China Morning Post (SCMP), said on Sunday that Beijing is increasing the PLA’s presence and strength along its southeast coast as it prepares for a possible military invasion of Taiwan.
With this aim, China is replacing its decades-old DF-11s and DF-15s and deploying its “most advanced” hypersonic missile DF-17 in the region.
“The new missile has a longer range and is able to hit targets more accurately,” the reports said.
Since the 1940s, China has been claiming that the self-governing Taiwan is an integral part of its territory, with Jinping even toying with a military force to capture it.
Predictably, the US has thrown a protective shield around Taiwan.
According to the Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review, satellite images show that both the Marine Corps and Rocket Force bases in Fujian and Guangdong in China have expanded.
“Every rocket force brigade in Fujian and Guangdong is now fully equipped,” the report said.
“The size of some of the missile bases in the Eastern and Southern theatre commands have even doubled in recent years, showing the PLA is stepping up preparations for a war targeting Taiwan,” it added.
These reports came amid heightened tensions between China and the US, with their diametrically opposite views over Taiwan and the Covid-19 pandemic.
During a recent visit to a military base in Guangdong, Jinping had instructed troops to “put their minds and energy on preparing for a war”, China’s news agency Xinhua said.
Addressing troops of the PLA’s Marine Corps in Chaozhou City, Jinping asked them to “maintain a state of high alert” and appealed to them to be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable”.
This appeal also proved the recent reports that the PLA, after its misadventure in Ladakh, is panicked and unwilling to launch another misadventure, this time in Taiwan, and China is trying to boost its morale.
In recent years, China has also increased military drills around Taiwan, with nearly 40 Chinese warplanes crossing the median line between the mainland and Taiwan in September, which Tsai Ing-wen called a “threat of force.”