Chinese carrier drills and stepped-up incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone in recent weeks are meant to send a message to Washington to stand down and back off, security sources in Taipei say.
The increased activity – which China, unusually, described as “combat drills” on Wednesday – has raised alarm in both Taipei and Washington, though security officials do not see it as a sign of an imminent attack.
Rather, according to an official familiar with Taiwan’s security planning, at least some of the exercises are practising “access denial” manoeuvres to prevent foreign forces from coming to Taipei’s defence in a war.
“China claimed that the drills are near Taiwan, but judging by their location it’s actually meant for the US military,” said the official in Taiwan, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
As China sailed an aircraft carrier group near Taiwan last week, its air force simulated attacks on American ships, although no US Navy vessels were known to be in the area at the time, the source said.