China Conducts Live-fire Military Exercises Off Taiwan

Naval exercises underway as US delegation visits Taiwan . . . 

China’s military has begun six days of live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait in what it is calling “combat drills.” The exercises are underway near the Taiwan-controlled Penghu islands, located only 50 km west of Taiwan’s main island. The military manoeuvres are taking place as a U.S. delegation concludes a three-day visit to Taiwan, including a meeting this morning with President Tsai Ing-wen. The White House has referred to the meeting as a “personal signal” of President Biden’s support and commitment to Taiwan. While China frequently conducts military exercises in the Taiwan Strait from April to June, analysts agree that live ammunition and the U.S. delegation’s visit significantly raise the profile and importance of the drill.

Superpower tension, superpower common ground?

This is the latest in the ratcheting up of tensions between the world’s two superpowers and the most recent centred on Taiwan. Earlier this week, Beijing sent 25 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the largest incursion to date, and it has reasserted its right to reunify Taiwan by force. But amid these heightened tensions is the potential for Beijing and Washington to work together on issues of common interest, such as climate change. President Biden has invited President Xi to take part in the U.S.-led climate summit next week, and the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry is currently in Shanghai for meetings with Chinese counterparts. President Biden has identified 2050 as his goal for the U.S. to be carbon neutral, while last year, President Xi announced China would achieve the same by 2060.

Meanwhile, in Canada-China relations . . .

Amid such complicated superpower diplomacy, the Canadian government has announced it is “actively considering” a bill that would require the registration of foreign agents in an effort to put some transparency around foreign political influence in Canada. Observers have identified China and Russia as the primary targets of the proposed legislation. Australia and the U.S. already have similar requirements, with the Australian legislation being passed in 2018 after Australian media scrutiny of widespread allegations of Chinese influence in Australian politics. The Ottawa-Beijing relationship is at a historic low, with Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou on trial in Vancouver under an American extradition warrant and two Canadian citizens – the “Two Michaels” – in custody in China for alleged breaches of national security.