Happy Easter: Peace messages from the Sino-Russian front
According to the internet portal Quora local Taiwanese media reported that a sino-American war nearly broke out over the flight of US diplomat Kelly Craft from the USA to Taiwan in January 2021 before the inaugaration of Joe Biden. The PLA threatened to bring down or to shoot down her plane if she entered Tawinese airspace. However the USA in the last minute would have decided to call her back and so a war could be avoided.
However, whether this is true or a propaganda hoax, China already pointed out several times that there are red lines for Beijing the USA should not cross regarding Taiwan.The incoming new Indo-Pacific commander already warns that China was already much closer in its preparations for an annexation of Taiwan as most people think, maybe already at the time of the Winter Olympic Games 2022 in Beijing:
“China’s ability to invade Taiwan ‘much closer than most think’, US Indo-Pacific Command nominee says
- ‘We have to take this on, put those deterrence capabilities like [the Pacific Deterrence Initiative] in place in the near term and with urgency,’ admiral says
- ‘Conventional deterrence to avoid crisis or conflict is certainly the main effort as I would see it,’ he adds
Beijing will have the ability to invade Taiwan sooner than current predictions would suggest, US President Joe Biden ’s nominee to lead America’s Indo-Pacific Command said on Tuesday.
Speaking in a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral John Aquilino said that the point at which China’s PLA would be equipped for such a mission was “much closer than most think”, dismissing varying predicted timelines that extend out to 2045.
“We have to take this on, put those deterrence capabilities like [the Pacific Deterrence Initiative] in place in the near term and with urgency,” Aquilino said, referring to a mandate written into the 2021 National Defence Authorisation Act to fulfil the national defence strategy and maintain a military edge over China.
The nominee for America’s top Pacific naval commander was responding to a question from Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton about what the current head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, said about thre issue earlier this month.
“I worry that they’re accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order,” Davidson told the same Senate committee on March 9. “They’ve said that they want to do that by 2050. I’m worried about them moving that target closer. Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before that. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.”
Cotton also reiterated a concern expressed this month by H.R. McMaster, the retired three-star Army general who served as national security adviser to former president Donald Trump, that the months after the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022 should be seen as a period of “greatest danger” in terms of China’s willingness to resort to military force in the region. The senator pointed to Russia’s annexation of Crimea just days after the country hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.
Aquilino was more aligned with Davidson when he said in questioning by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren that he agreed with the incumbent commander that an erosion of “conventional deterrence” against China in the Indo-Pacific region was the greatest military threat that America faces.”
However, the Biden administration tries to test out the red lines in its support for Taiwan and the Pacific islands in Oceania:
“US Palau envoy’s trip to Taiwan prompts ‘red line’ warning from China
- American ambassador to Palau part of Palauan presidential delegation visiting Taipei
- Official’s presence sends strong signal to Beijing about US opposition to poaching more allies from Taipei, analyst says
Published: 8:28pm, 29 Mar, 2021
Beijing has warned Washington not to cross its “red line” on Taiwan after a US envoy arrived on the island as part of a delegation from Palau, one of Taipei’s 15 remaining allies.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that “the Chinese side resolutely opposes any form of official contacts between US and Taiwanese officials”, adding that any such contact would hurt US-China ties and affect stability in the Taiwan Strait.
The warning came after Palauan President Surangel Whipps arrived in Taiwan on Sunday for a five-day trip to launch a “travel bubble” to ease coronavirus between Taipei and Koror, Palau’s biggest island.
US ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland was part of the delegation, becoming the first US envoy to visit Taiwan since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei in 1979.
Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory that must be returned to its control by force if needed, has repeatedly warned the US against official contacts with the island.
On Monday, a day after the US ambassador was reported to be visiting Taiwan, Beijing sent 10 warplanes to Taiwan’s southwest air defence identification zone to ramp up pressure on the island, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.
“Having the US ambassador here with us is just a demonstration of how we work together to get this ‘sterile corridor’ or ‘travel bubble’ started,” he said, referring to US supplies of vaccines to Palau that enabled the formation of the travel bubble.
“As a small country, we could easily be infiltrated and we depend on our partners to protect us and give us security. So I appreciate [Hennessy-Niland] joining us … which demonstrates [the US] friendship and commitment in protecting us and giving us security.”
Observers said Hennessey-Niland’s presence was a strong signal from the US that it would respond to any effort by Beijing to bring Palau into its fold.
“According to normal diplomatic practice, Ambassador John Hennessey-Niland would not be able to come to Taiwan without permission from the State Department,” said Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, a professor of international relations and strategic studies at Tamkang University in Taipei.
“[His visit] signals the US effort to assist Taiwan in securing diplomatic ties with Palau against pressure from Beijing.”
Whipps told Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency that soon after he was elected president late last year, Beijing tried to persuade him to switch diplomatic recognition to the mainland but he rebuffed Beijing’s overtures, saying he valued Palau’s ties with Taipei.
Hennessey-Niland has said Pacific nations need to be aware of the risks and the potential loss of autonomy in siding with Beijing. And in a US Senate hearing in December 2019, he said Taiwan was a US partner and critical to helping contain Beijing’s military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.
Huang said Hennessey-Niland’s visit “implies that the Biden administration has observed the Taiwan Travel Act and the decision made by its predecessor to lift unfair and unnecessary restrictions on certain official engagements with Taiwanese counterparts”.
On Friday ,March 26th 2021, 20 Chinese military aircraft are said to have penetrated the air surveillance space in Taiwan. This is reported by the island’s Ministry of Defense and speaks of the biggest incursion by China so far. The tensions in the strait in the South China Sea threaten to escalate further. The US and Taiwan had previously signed an agreement designed to strengthen cooperation between the two coast guards against China. The Taiwanese Air Force has also deployed missiles to „monitor“ Chinese intrusion into the southwest of the airspace, the ministry said. The machines were said to have been on the Bashi Road, which separates Taiwan and the Philippines. Citing government sources in Taipei, the Reuters news agency reported that the Chinese exercise was a simulated attack on US warships.
The US believes that China is playing with the idea of taking control of Taiwan. The People’s Republic is said to have simulated an air strike on US aircraft carriers as early as the end of January. Washington responded and sent the „USS John S. McCain“ through the strait between China and Taiwan. The first agreement with Taipei under the government of US President Joe Biden is primarily about „improved communication, building cooperation“ and about „sharing information“, according to the „American Institute“, the de facto US Embassy in Taiwan. Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang referred to a law Beijing passed in January. According to this, China has given the coast guard the freedom to fire on enemy ships. „China’s coast guard law is shocking for neighboring countries,“ said Su to the media present such as „Bloomberg“. “
The Ministry of Defense of China did not expressly comment on the incident, according to „Reuters“. However, the Beijing government under President Xi Jinping regularly claims that such exercises are nothing out of the ordinary. One wants to express the determination to defend the sovereignty. Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Biden government earlier this month that there was „no room for compromise or concession“ on Taiwan. The island is claimed by China as part of the People’s Republic. China also announced that it would hold another military exercise next week. The area west of the Philippines between Hainan Province and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea will be temporarily closed to shipping. The government in Manila had also expressed criticism of China: The reason is hundreds of fishing boats in the sea area of the Philippines, behind which the Chinese military is suspected
While the tensions are rising aound Taiwan and the South China Sea, China´s strategic partner Putin is sending his own form of peaceful Easter messages to the second front in Europe:
According to NATO military, an unusually large number of Russian military aircraft showed up near the NATO alliance area at the beginning of the week. During interception maneuvers over the North Atlantic, the Black Sea and the North and Baltic Seas, six different groups with bombers and fighter jets from Russia were identified on Monday within less than six hours, NATO said on Tuesday. This was an extraordinary peak value. According to the Alliance, the identified Russian aircraft included supersonic Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and long-range Tupolev Tu-95 bombers. The interception maneuvers were flown by pilots from Norway, Great Britain and Belgium as well as from Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy, it said. Fighter planes from NATO countries fly hundreds of missions every year to identify and monitor Russian aircraft that are in international airspace. During the so-called alarm starts, the pilots with their fighters have to be in the air within a few minutes, for example by visual contact to determine whether a suspicious aircraft poses a threat. If necessary, this could then be stopped by force.
For a few days now, Russia’s army has been moving thousands of weapons and tens of thousands of troops towards the border with Ukraine and the occupied Crimea. This is proven by verified videos from numerous regions of western Russia. US President Joe Biden (78) has supported the government in Kiev. After a phone call with his Ukrainian colleague Volodymyr Selenskyj (43) on Friday, the US government said: Biden has the „unshakable support of the USA“ with regard to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine „in view of the ongoing Russian aggression in the Dombass and in the Crimea“ stated. Meanwhile, Russia is moving not only offensive weapons, but also the logistics for a large-scale campaign to the West. In addition to tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery guns, this includes bridge building material, communication systems and military ambulances. This emerges from the analysis of more than 25 videos of Russian passers-by, which the Russian investigation platform „Conflict Intelligence Team“ evaluated. Putin’s army not only uses roads but also trains to move his army towards Ukraine. This time there are so many trains on the road that the Russian Ministry of Agriculture complained: There was not a single heavy haulage wagon left to move tractors across the vast country to the harvesting areas! This is reported by the Russian newspaper „Kommersant“.
Two sources told the newspaper that the majority of the roughly 16,000 rail cars in the country „are currently used for the transport of military and special cargo“.
Both the Kremlin and the Russian Defense Ministry are officially silent about the massive relocation of troops to Ukraine. But the Russian „federal news agency Avia.Pro“ reports, citing military sources on their side: „Due to the provocation of the armed forces of Ukraine on the Russian border, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is urgently using military equipment in Crimea.“ The Russian side did not reveal a “provocation” of Ukraine. What is certain is that the Russian troop relocation will lead to increased nervousness in Ukraine and the USA. The Ukrainian chief of staff Ruslan Khomchak spoke in front of the Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday evening and warned that Russia had moved 28 of its 136 tactical battalion groups to the Ukrainian border and could attack within days. On Thursday he also announced that Ukraine was preparing to call up reservists in the army if Russia continued its troop concentration. The US is also very concerned. According to a report in the „New York Times“, the US Army in Europe raised its threat assessment in the region to the highest level – from „possible crisis“ to „potentially imminent crisis“. And they went even further. On Wednesday evening, the United States Chief of Staff Mark Milley called his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov to tell him that the United States was watching with concern the Russian troop transfers towards Ukraine.
In a crisis phone call, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also assured his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that he would support the USA. The German newspaper BILD asked the Foreign Office in Berlin whether the German government also had the deployment of the Russian army on its radar. According to the German Foreign Office, “Russia and Ukraine have publicly warned of troop movements by the other side in the past few days. Against the background of the situation in Eastern Ukraine, we and our partners are in close contact with Kiev and Moscow so that there is no room for misunderstandings, which in turn could lead to further escalations ”.Military expert Gustav Gressel from the think tank “European Council on Foreign Relations” is assuming an imminent “limited escalation” on the part of Moscow. He rated the widely visible deployment of troops by the Kremlin as a “diversionary maneuver” and compared the situation with the one in 2014. “The impending danger of invasion allowed Ukraine to move its few operational troops around Kyiv and on the west bank of the Dnepro at that time.” As a result, Russian special forces had „an easy job in Donbass“. This time too, Gressel assumes an attack by Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, but emphasizes: “Nothing is impossible. In 2014 it wasn’t as if we knew how it would end and where Putin was going. „Gressel is certain:“ Putin is still about wiping out Ukraine as an independent state and transforming it into a vassal structure. „
A New East Policy which would make a compromise between the West and Russia to transform Ukraine in a neutral bridge state between the EU and EAEU is therefore becoming distant wishful thinking at the moment. And the timing at Easter when most Westereners want a peaceful vaccation, if not yet a vaccination is well planned by Putin . Happy Easter!