Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on October 24 that Taiwan should prepare militarily to face the CCP’s new military command after the 20th CCP Congress. Xi Jinping promoted younger military commanders who have more knowledge of the situation in the Taiwan Strait. He added, “They have more experience in technology and combat “and this “means the [PLA] will adopt a tougher strategy in dealing with Taiwan in the future.”
During a legislative session, lawmakers consulted with the defense minister on how the CCP’s changes in military command would impact Taiwan. The CCP reshuffled its military leadership a day after the closing meeting of the Party congress. This could indicate that the People’s Liberation Army would be focusing on Taiwan over the next five years.
With the exception of Central Military Commission Chairman Xi, 69, and Gen. Zhang Youxia, 72, the other members are between 58 and 67 years old, younger than members of previous commissions, Chiu said.
Chui said, “While two of them were born in Fujian and are familiar with Taiwan, two have war experience.” He was referring to Gen. He Weidong and Adm. Miao Hua, who hail from the southeastern province of Fujian and share strong Taiwan-related experience.
Chiu said that the new commission members came from the army, navy, and rocket force, and some also had technology and aerospace experience. Chiu said, “This means the PLA will also put emphasis on advanced technology development.”
Asked whether the PLA would become more hostile toward Taiwan, Chiu told Taiwanese lawmakers that while the PLA was expecting to become more aggressive, it was not likely to escalate overnight. He said, “They would act [tougher] step by step.” He added that the situation across the strait has become more serious by the day. He said the Taiwanese armed forces would continue to strengthen their readiness to be prepared.
This is not the first time the Taiwanese defense minister has warned about the seriousness of the cross-strait situation. On October 11, he declared that Taiwan will regard Chinese drone incursions as a “first strike.” At that time, Chiu said, “Even in peacetime, the PLA has sent more than 20 fighter jets to fly over Taiwan and cross the median line. Every day it has also deployed four to six warships, or more, in the waters around us.”
The defense minister said, “Taiwan’s military has its red line when it comes to national defense.”
According to the Taiwanese defense minister, the situation between the CCP and Taiwan is more tense than ever before.
New Central Military Commission members have experience in Taiwan
One of the most experienced generals in eastern China, He, was appointed the second vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC); and Zhang, was promoted to first vice chairman. Xi set 2027 as the target for achieving the complete modernization of the People’s Liberation Army.
Gen. He also has experience in the Eastern Theater Command, which includes Taiwan and the South China Sea. Before becoming vice chairman of the CMC, he joined the CMC Joint Command Center, the highest command and control body of the Chinese armed forces.
He was one of those responsible for planning military exercises in the Taiwan Strait in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August.
Some military analysts pointed to He’s experience in Fujian as a key foundation for crafting a successful strategy on Taiwan.
Song Zhongping, a military expert on China, said from Hong Kong that He’s rise showed that the PLA was “strengthening combat preparations for military struggles against Taiwan.”
Another researcher at the National University of Singapore’s East Asia Institute, Li Nan, said one of the reasons he was promoted to second vice chairman was the advance on Taiwan. “Fujian has always been the front-line province to conquer Taiwan,” he said.
Miao Hau, a 66-year-old admiral and former political director of the 31st Army Group in 1999, is another member of the Central Military Committee with solid Taiwan-related experience.
One of Xi’s unexpected moves was Zhang’s promotion as first vice chairman. One of the unwritten rules of the CCP is that older Central Committee members who reached the age of 69 should retire, however, Zhang is 72.
Zhang was one of the pillars since Xi’s 2015 reform of the People’s Liberation Army, modifying the Soviet structure of the army and converting it to a more Western structure. He was also in charge of space programs.
US Warns of CCP intentions
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently warned at an event at Stanford University that the CCP wants to accelerate unification with Taiwan.
Blinken added, “Under Xi Jinping a different China is emerging.” The attitude toward Taiwan is changing, Blinken said. He went on to say, “Instead of sticking to the status quo that was positively established, [Beijing has made] the fundamental decision that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and Beijing is determined to pursue reunification in a much faster timeframe.”
According to the recent appointments and changes in the Central Military Commission, which is China’s highest military authority, Xi wants to give a clear message regarding Taiwan and reinforce his intentions revealed in the speech he gave at the 20th Congress. Then he stressed the importance of Taiwan for the rejuvenation of communist China and that he intends a peaceful unification, although he would not renounce under any circumstances the “use of force.”