Taiwan Reports Massive Chinese Military Bases Near Island: 'Must Consider How To Use Peaceful Means To Resolve'

Taiwan has revealed the construction of extensive Chinese military installations near its territory.

What Happened: Taiwan has identified substantial military bases built by China on islands close to Taiwan’s sole holding in the South China Sea, escalating regional tensions, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The Taiwanese Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, disclosed that China has constructed large military installations on Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and Mischief Reef. These developments are near Itu Aba, known in Taiwan as Taiping, which is Taiwan’s main territory in the Spratly Islands.

Amid calls from Taiwanese lawmakers for President Tsai Ing-wen to visit Itu Aba to affirm sovereignty, Wu emphasized Taiwan’s claim to the island, stating the government’s commitment to defending it.

“As the dispute continues to intensify, we in Taiwan must consider how to use peaceful means to resolve the South China Sea issue, and not let others think we are creating difficulties,” Wu said.

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Itu Aba, equipped with a runway for military re-supply flights, is lightly defended compared to the Chinese-controlled islands, which have seen significant land reclamation and military fortification. This has raised alarms in Washington and across the region. China, however, asserts its right to build on what it sees as its territory. Taiwan also holds the Pratas Islands in the northern South China Sea, with China’s military forces frequently operating nearby to enforce its claims over Taiwan, which Taipei vehemently disputes.

Other nations, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, also contest parts of the South China Sea, challenging both China and Taiwan’s territorial assertions.

Why It Matters: The recent military developments by China near Taiwan’s territory are part of a broader pattern of escalating tension in the region. Earlier this month, China’s tactics to pressure Taiwan intensified, including the loss of a diplomatic ally and increased military patrols, which are seen as a response to the election of Vice President Lai Ching-te as the next president of Taiwan.

Additionally, China’s military spending has seen a significant increase, with a 7.2% rise for 2024 announced during the annual parliamentary meetings in Beijing. This uptick in the defense budget aligns with the country’s efforts to deter what it considers Taiwan’s ‘separatist activities.’

Further emphasizing the gravity of the situation, Chinese President Xi Jinping has recently rallied for the mobilization of “patriots” to counteract Taiwan’s pro-independence movements. In a meeting with a political group based in mainland China, Xi called for unity against independence efforts and stressed the importance of peaceful reunification, while also advocating for deeper cooperation with Taiwan in various sectors.

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Photo by Zerbor on Shutterstock

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