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A Record Number Of Chinese Warplanes And Ships Crossed The Taiwan Strait Median Line. Here Is How Both Sides Interpret The Move.

Between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday local time, 71 planes and seven ships from mainland China were sent toward Taiwan, 47 of which crossed the Taiwan Strait Median Line. This included 18 J-16 fighter jets, 11 J-1 fighters, 6 Su-30 fighters, and drones, as the Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan reported. This is a record-high number in the past decades.

The relationship between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has evolved grievously since the US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August. China has since then practiced intensive live military drills near the island of Taiwan. The Chinese military activity on December 26 can be seen as the most recent part of the series.

The viewpoint of Chinese officials

Shi Yi, the speaker of the Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), claimed that PLA just organized joint combat-readiness security patrols and joint firepower striking exercises around the island of Taiwan. The activity of Chinese warplanes and ships is a firm response to the “provocation” from and “collusion” between the US and Taiwan. According to Shi, PLA will adopt any necessary measures to steadfastly safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Taiwan is a Chinese territory, and if necessary, mainland China will enhance its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure on Taiwan and may unify Taiwan by force in extreme situations, stressed Shi.

The “collusion” mentioned by Shi refers to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that President Biden signed into law on December 23. The act explicitly determined that the US would enhance its military presence in the Pacific region, provide Taiwan with $10 billion in military aid, and process the military purchase orders from Taiwan faster. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Beijing is very unhappy with the new law.

The viewpoint of Taiwanese officials

In response to the military activity of mainland China, President Tsai Ing-Wen of Taiwan suggested that Taiwan should prepare well to minimize the possibility of an outright invasion. In face of the recent global expansion of authoritarianism that greatly influences global order and regional peace and stability, there will be only more tough challenges in the future, said Tsai. 

According to President Tsai, the military of Taiwan should keep pace with the constantly evolving pattern of warfare and train potent defense forces. “The more united and cohesive we are, the stronger and more secure Taiwan shall become,” claimed Tsai. 

Just one day later, on December 27, President Tsai announced the extension of compulsory military service from four months to one year, which, according to her, is a very hard decision. Meanwhile, the minimum wage of all military personnel is significantly elevated. 

On December 26, Wang Shin-lung, the vice minister of Taiwanese National Defense, pointed out to journalists that the very intent of the military activities of mainland China is “to intimidate and threaten us”, which is a “repeatedly used tactic”. “We will continue to strengthen our army and warfare preparation works, and our people can rest assured,” said Wang.

Public opinion of both sides

In China, public opinion largely favors the progress of Chinese military activities at the Taiwan Strait. Many refer to the saying that China admires and cherishes peace but is never afraid of war. They stressed that the Taiwan issue involves the most important of all of China’s core interests, so the Chinese PLA has to counter Taiwanese separatism effectively with stern strategies. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait will be ultimately unified with no doubts, and separatism is destined to fail, said many Chinese netizens. 

“Fine wine awaits our old good friends, but if that jackal dares sneak in, only shotguns speak for our reception,” as they quote from Battle Of Shang Ganling Mountain, the first Chinese film featuring the Korean War, “the Chinese war to resist the US aggression in aid of North Korea”, which was released in 1956.

Taiwanese public opinion is on the other hand more divided. Some Taiwanese netizens claimed that they “don’t care” about the “increasingly cliché” Chinese threats and reemphasized their determination to pursue separation from mainland China, while others criticized the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the current ruling party of Taiwan, as introducing unnecessary pressure from mainland China in exchange for political benefits granted by the West. 

Regarding the extension of compulsory military service, while this decision is overall popular with more than 70% of all interviewed Taiwanese in support of it, it is hardly popular among the younger generation in Taiwan, with only about a third of them supportive of it, as shown in a report by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation.


What happened around the strategically vital strait marks another step of escalation, netizens from both sides commented. How the future of the Taiwan issue may evolve in the future is far from ascertained.

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