China Conducts Large-Scale ‘Joint Military Drills’ Around Taiwan
Héloïse Regnault de Montgon
East & South Asia Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On January 9, 2023, China conducted a large military operation — its first “joint military drill”, according to Beijing — around Taiwan. The contingent that was sent on Monday was composed of 57 warplanes. The fleet included two H-6 bombers, which “can carry nuclear bombs” (Johnson, 2023). According to a statement by Senior Colonel Shi Yi, this exercise aimed to “resolutely counter the provocative actions of external forces and Taiwan independence separatist forces” (Al Jazeera, 2023).
This military exercise is one of China’s largest to date. According to Taipei’s Defense Ministry, 28 of the Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (Johnson, 2023). The drill conducted by China shows an acceleration in its demonstration around Taiwan. In October, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that Taiwan remained a “core interest” to the country. He also stated that China does “not exclude the use of force” to bring democratically-ruled Taiwan under the control of Beijing (Al Jazeera, 2023).
This drill took place days after the nomination of Kevin McCarthy as the U.S. House Speaker. McCarthy pledged to visit Taiwan if he was elected. China’s military demonstrations have escalated in the last months, particularly after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan (Al Jazeera, 2023). Taipei showed that Chinese aircrafts crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the unofficial buffer between the two sides. This rarely happened before Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022 (Johnson, 2023).
The People’s Republic of China’s (PCR) invasion and use of force against Taiwan would be a violation of international law and of human rights (Regnault de Montgon, 2022). Article 2(4) of the UN Charter mandates that “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state is prohibited”. (United Nations, 1945) It could be argued that since Taiwan is not recognised as a state, Article 2(4) does not protect the territorial integrity or political independence of Taiwan. According to Nguyen Quoc Tan Trung, this is an incomplete interpretation of Article 2(4) (Nguyen, 2022). Resolution 2625 of the United Nations General Assembly states that the prohibition of the use of force also “requires states to honor the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples… of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence.” (UN General Assembly, 1970) Taiwan has declared its independence, and its democratic regime shows that the Taiwanese people have effectively made use of self-determination. The PCR’s ‘One China’ policy infringes upon this right. Furthermore, the right to self-determination is also protected under Article 1(1) of the CESCR, which China ratified in 2001: “All peoples have the right of self-determination.” (UN Human Rights, 1976)” (Regnault de Montgon, 2022).
The escalation in military exercises on the part of China challenges Taiwan’s right to self-determination. This military drill and the crossing of the median line of Taiwan’s strait shows that China is willing to use force in an invasion of Taiwan. This would be a direct violation of Taiwan’s right to self-determination, as its government is independent even if not recognised as such. Following the drill, Taipei’s government called to “ensure peace and stability” from both parties.
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Johnson, J. (2023, January 9). China conducts large-scale joint 'combat' drill around Taiwan. Japan Times. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/01/09/asia-pacific/china-taiwan-adiz-kevin-mccarthy/.
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