Daily Memo: Taiwan Won’t Shoot First

The increasing tempo of Chinese airspace incursions has clearly unnerved Taipei.

Eroding barriers to escalation in the Indo-Pacific. Taiwan’s government said Monday that its pilots would not be the first to fire on Chinese military assets, but the statement included the critical exception that they would fire if they thought a Chinese attack was imminent. This comes after two Chinese bombers and 16 fighter jets crossed what’s known as the cross-strait median line between China and Taiwan on Friday. The next day, another 19 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in a formation intended to simulate an attack. Taiwan scrambled its own warplanes in response, just as it has done in dozens of similar incidents over the past several months. But the increasing tempo of Chinese airspace incursions – particularly violations of the median line, which both sides had generally respected until 2019 as a way to limit the risk of conflict, but which Beijing on Friday and Monday basically said it would no longer recognize – has clearly unnerved Taiwan. Over the weekend, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reportedly held a series of briefings with air force leaders to make sure rules of engagement for Taiwanese pilots were crystal clear. In other words, Taipei appears concerned that Beijing is […]

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