Provoked by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has begun its military drills. Nikkei interviewed foreign and national security experts about the security environment in East Asia.
By Kodo Yoji, former commander of the Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet
The United States has a military edge over China. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan demonstrated that the U.S. will not be restrained by China’s intimidation or warning. China’s assertiveness (such as military drills) is intended for the domestic audience.
China’s live-fire drills provide a good opportunity for the U.S. and Japan to collect a range of intelligence. So [for China] it is not a wise approach.
Tensions could escalate to a dangerous level if a military clash were to break out on site due to China’s intended provocation.
Dangerous flights by Chinese warplanes are not accidental. The Chinese military is conducting those flights as a tool of intimidation and intimidation is a national policy. For example, if a Taiwanese aircraft makes a U-turn, China can say “we chased it away.”
Japan must ensure that China never thinks “Japan is a timid nation, unlike the U.S.” Japan does not support Taiwan’s independence but does not favor a coercive approach to make Taiwan give in its autonomy. That is Japan’s position.
To prepare for a cross-strait contingency, Japan must ramp up its intelligence-gathering capabilities. Before a contingency develops into a situation that risks Japan’s survival or a situation that could have a grave impact on Japan’s national security, Japan needs to come up with a vision of how to warn China and monitor its moves.
Japan needs to maintain a counterattack posture so that it can minimize the damage to bases from missile attacks.
The government must protect the lives and property of people in the Nansei islands. It must include in the National Security Strategy a policy direction that includes the use of commercial ships and aircraft.
(Interviewed by Nemoto Ryo)
By Kanehara Nobukatsu, former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary
China probably thought it could stop House Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan through intimidation. It started military drills in no small part because Chinse leader Xi Jinping’s reputation would be tarnished if it took no action. It thought light of the United States.
Tensions between the U.S. and China are intensifying, but China will not attack Taiwan in the near future. But the likelihood of China attacking Taiwan may increase if China can match the U.S. in military power as early as 2035.
At present China possesses about 300 nuclear warheads. If the number grows to 1,000, China would possess a functioning deterrence and it would become difficult for the U.S. to intervene Japan, for its part, needs to rebuild its defense capabilities till then.
If a cross-strait contingency happened, the U.S. would head to Taiwan. It would not provide full protection to Japan. Japan’s national security during the Cold War era was designed to protect the country for several weeks until U.S. forces came to the rescue. Instead of several weeks, Japan needs to strengthen its defense capabilities to where these can sustain Japan for a few years. That would not be possible if Japan continues to lack ammunition and hardware.
The strengthening of defense capabilities in new domains, such as cyberspace, space, and electromagnetic waves, is also a pressing issue. It will become important for the government to allocate research and development funds to national security to help build a solid foundation for technology and businesses.
It will become indispensable for Japan to integrate its foreign policy toward China into a grand foreign policy for Asia. China will challenge Japan and the U.S. by trying to drive a wedge between them. It is not wise at all for Japan to merely seek to improve ties with China.
(Interviewed by Shigeta Shusuke)