A recent incident occurred in the Taiwan Strait involving a Chinese Luyang III-class guided-missile destroyer and the USS Chung-Hoon destroyer, according to the US Indo-Pacific Command. The Chinese warship executed an unsafe maneuver, forcing the USS Chung-Hoon to slow down to avoid a collision. The US command stated that the actions of the Chinese warship violated international maritime rules and endangered safe passage in international waters.
The USS Chung-Hoon and His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Montreal conducted a routine transit in the Taiwan Strait on June 3, adhering to the principles of international law and the freedom of navigation. However, the Chinese destroyer, identified as PLA(N) LUYANG III DDG 132, engaged in maneuvers that posed a risk to the safety of the USS Chung-Hoon. The closest distance between the two vessels was 150 yards (137 meters).
This incident follows a similar occurrence in late May when a Chinese J-16 fighter jet exhibited aggressive behavior while intercepting a US RC-135 aircraft over the South China Sea. These actions raise concerns about China’s assertiveness and its potential impact on regional security.
In light of these developments, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) published a report emphasizing that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not influenced China’s intentions regarding a possible invasion of Taiwan. The report highlights China as the primary long-term challenge to the existing international order.
Contrary to expectations that the war in Europe might deter China’s adventurism and decrease defense spending in Asia, the report suggests that the conflict could actually accelerate military spending in the Asia-Pacific region. It also suggests that the war in Ukraine has not altered China’s perception of Taiwan as an internal challenge, and any Chinese use of force to regain the island would differ significantly from the situation in Ukraine.
The report acknowledges that China has been studying Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine but notes that it is impossible to predict whether China will resort to force in its approach to Taiwan. China’s decision-making will be influenced not only by military capabilities but also by considerations of likely US and allied reactions, including potential economic effects.
The report’s findings hold particular significance as they coincide with the upcoming Shangri La Dialogue, a security conference where top officials discuss regional security issues. The dialogue is hosted by the IISS and has already sparked controversy due to Beijing’s refusal to meet with US defense officials.
China’s growing assertiveness, coupled with the lessons learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has put Taiwan in the spotlight as a potential security hotspot in Asia. China has repeatedly hinted at its intention to occupy Taiwan and integrate it with the Chinese mainland, even if force is necessary. Recent military drills by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have simulated an armed invasion of Taiwan, highlighting the PLA’s focus on improving its capabilities for such operations.
The report concludes that the Asia-Pacific region remains concerned that Russia’s actions in Ukraine have set a lower threshold for armed confrontation. This concern primarily centers on China and its potential use of force against Taiwan or neighboring countries. However, rather than focusing solely on the possibility of Chinese military adventurism, the report suggests that it may be more productive to examine the developmental lessons the PLA can learn from the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces. These lessons could contribute to the modernization plans and priorities of the PLA, including joint operations, combined arms, and the utilization of new technologies like drone warfare.
Additionally, the report highlights the strategic value of Western military training and capacity-building efforts, citing Ukraine as a successful case. The provision of training, equipment, and skills transfer to Ukraine before the conflict prevented a swift Russian occupation. This example could offer potential lessons for Taiwan’s defense and capacity-building in the face of a possible Chinese invasion.
In summary, the incident in the Taiwan Strait underscores the ongoing tensions in the region, while the IISS report emphasizes China’s status as a long-term challenge and raises concerns about the impact of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The report suggests that a comprehensive analysis of China’s military intentions and lessons from recent conflicts can inform regional security strategies and help prepare for potential future challenges.