the essential Marc Julienne is a researcher, responsible for China activities, Asia Center of IFRI (French Institute for International Relations).
Absoutely. It accelerated in late September-early October but it actually started longer than that. China’s first air forays into the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone date back to September 2020. These incursions are almost daily. We can talk about harassment of Chinese aircraft on the Taiwanese army. It’s a daily pressure.
Are the tensions still as strong?
It is possible that this escalation has calmed down a bit today. There was a phone call between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping; Joe Biden’s national security adviser met with China’s number one diplomat in Geneva; and communications take place at a high level between the US military and the Chinese military.
China, however, still considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces.
China shows great determination in its desire to be powerful and its desire to reclaim Taiwan by force or peacefully. To question the status quo that has existed for 1949 and to do it on a daily basis is a will, in fine , to denounce it.
Is talking about a possible Third World War between the United States and China being abused or is it a possibility?
We cannot rule out any scenario. Objectively, everyone agrees that China does not have the military capabilities today to retake Taiwan and even less if we put the United States and its allies in the equation. Japan has not stopped, for a few weeks now, to affirm its support for Taiwan by saying that the security of Taiwan is the security of Japan, it is still very, very strong. The other hypothesis is that with nuclear weapons, political leaders will come to their senses and will not want to go into conflict. On the other hand, not all wars are rational. History teaches us that. You can’t be absolutely certain what would happen, and what each other’s reactions, if there was an incident. Xi Jinping has such a strong nationalist rhetoric that in the event of an incident, one wonders whether China, even for ideological reasons, would not go into conflict. We must consider all the possibilities, even the least rational, and the most dangerous.