The U.S. is showing its stronger will to curb a potential China invasion of Taiwan amid the war in Ukraine.
Change of wording regarding U.S.-Taiwan relation
The U.S. State Department on May 5 revised the Fact Sheet about U.S.-Taiwan relations on its website. It removes words such as “Taiwan is a part of China” and the U.S. “does not support Taiwan independence.” It simply said that the U.S. implements the “one China” policy, and it is [quote] “guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.” [end-quote]
Dr. Yao-Yuan Yeh, director of the Department of International Studies & Modern Languages at the University of St. Thomas, said the new version is very different from the old one. It implies a fundamental change in Taiwan and U.S. relations.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Dr. Yao said that in the old version, the U.S. stated that it knew and understood Beijing’s claim to Taiwan’s sovereignty. While the new version only talks about the one-China policy, it does not specifically say what the one-China policy is. It does not talk about it so that China can not keep interpreting the ambiguous concept in its own way.
Shuh Fan Ding is an emeritus professor at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University. In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Prof. Ding was asked about this act. He said that Beijing is worried that although the U.S. mentions the “one China” policy by name, it is gradually hollowing it out.
Why did the U.S. update the factsheet on US-Taiwan relations at this moment? Shuh Fan Ding said that the U.S. and its allies have a security concern about the Indo-Pacific.
It comes from the recent war in Ukraine. And that might be why the new German Chancellor visited Japan on the first stop of his Asian tour. Western countries have emphasized that they want stability in the region.
Prof. Ding said China is heeding this. So Xi called the German Chancellor in a hurry shortly after he visited Japan. And he also sent his right-hand man Vice President Wang Qishan, to South Korea to attend the new president’s inauguration ceremony. China seems to be trying to tighten its relationship with its neighboring countries.
The U.S. is also sending more armed forces to the region to curb a potential military outbreak if China invades Taiwan.
Taiwan media has recently leaked images of the U.S. military special forces at the Chaozhou Airborne Field in Taiwan. In the photos, the U.S. forces are co-training the high-altitude infiltration special attack.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency pointed out that it is an open secret that the U.S. military is stationed in Taiwan to help train the island’s military. The Aboluowang news said the more China pushes toward Taiwan, the more the U.S.-Taiwan military cooperation will be strengthened. The revelation at this time served as a warning to China.
New U.S. destroyers can perform multiple tasks to hunt down Chinese submarines
According to Reuters, a vessel was spotted in a Chinese shipyard in recent rare satellite images. Military analysts say it could be a new or upgraded class of nuclear-powered attack submarine.
It was unclear whether the submarine revealed by the satellite images was a new type of submarine, an upgraded version of an existing one, or something else. But according to a Pentagon report last November, the Chinese Navy could potentially build a new attack submarine with vertical launch tubes for cruise missiles in the next few years. Since the report, diplomats and analysts have been keeping a close eye on Chinese submarines.
Nikkei Asia posted an article on May 10. It said that the U.S. Navy recently hinted at its strategic shift in Asia. In March, the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted their first torpedo exercises in Tokyo Bay. An MH-60R helicopter fired a torpedo from the air into Japanese waters, and the act simulated an attack on a submarine. Before, all similar torpedo exercises had been conducted off the coast of San Diego, on the U.S. West Coast.
Nikkei Asia said the exercise comes as the U.S. Navy quietly realigns its ship deployment roster in Japan, bringing the latest and more capable ships closer to the Taiwan Strait. The paper said this reflects its global mission priorities changes in the matter.
Since last summer, five Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers have arrived in Japan’s Yokosuka. This is the world’s largest U.S. naval base overseas, located about an hour south of Tokyo. These destroyers would replace ships such as the USS John S. McCain and the USS Curtis Wilbur, which have been deployed in Japan for 25 years.
Nikkei Asia said the older ships are centered on ballistic missile defense and therefore have been deployed with North Korea in mind. Meanwhile, the newer ships are expected to take on multiple missions. They can be used for air defenses against China’s advanced fighter jets, and they can be used to track submarines and defend against China’s latest anti-ship cruise missiles while also keeping an eye on ballistic missiles.
Four of the new destroyers deployed to Yokosuka are Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA ships with a helicopter hangar. It is considered the primary tool for hunting down enemy submarines and a crucial part of the Navy’s operations against China and Russia.
Lt. Mark Langford, the U.S. 7th Fleet’s deputy public affairs officer, told the Nikkei Asia that these U.S. destroyers greatly expanded the scope and capabilities of anti-submarine warfare throughout the Indo-Pacific.
Preventing the emergence of hegemony in the Eurasia continent
With 13 U.S. warships, Yokosuka is widely considered one of the U.S.’s most strategic military bases. The base has become even more critical amid growing threats from China in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in the Taiwan Strait.
According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, it would take a day and a half to sail from Yokosuka to the Taiwan Strait at 30 knots. That’s faster than from Guam (1.9 days), Singapore (2.5 days), and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (5.9 days).
The U.S. has another major navy base in Japan called Sasebo. This base is closer to Taiwan, where nine other ships are deployed. Five of those ships are large amphibious ships tasked with moving hundreds of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to the battlefield in case of an emergency.
Mark Milley is the top U.S. military officer and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He said that it’s always good to have more ships at a recent congressional hearing. But we need to put them in the status of significant readiness.
He said, [quote] “We have allies and partners. China doesn’t. The Japanese Navy, the Australian Navy, the other allies and partners that would probably work with the United States.”