China’s military assertiveness over Taiwan will likely continue in the next 12 months as tensions between the two sides intensify, a defense analyst said Monday.
“I think a lot of this boils down to China wants to get the attention of the United States,” Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst at think tank, Rand Corporation, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
“I mean Beijing has been really, really frustrated with deepening U.S.-Taiwan ties on all fronts, in particular in the security domain,” said Grossman.
China claims Taiwan as part of its own territory and has been putting pressure on the democratic island to accept Beijing’s rule.
To be clear, the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing has never controlled Taiwan. But China claims the island is a runaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, using force if necessary.
Xi vows ‘peaceful reunification’
Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan.
It prompted an angry response from Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen said in her National Day speech Sunday that the island will not “bow to pressure” and will seek to maintain the “status quo.”
“We will continue to bolster our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us,” said Tsai.
“This is because the path that China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people,” she added.
China previously offered Taiwan a “one country, two systems” governance model — like the one in Hong Kong. But the proposal is “overwhelmingly unpopular” in Taiwan, said Grossman of Rand Corporation.
Hours after Xi’s speech, the Chinese government’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a Mandarin-language statement — which CNBC translated — that Tsai “advocated Taiwan independence, incited confrontation, cut apart history and distorted facts.”
U.S. relations with Taiwan
Earlier this month, China sent a record number of military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone — raising international concerns of a military accident.
The U.S. has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. But through the Taiwan Relations Act, Washington is committed to providing the island with arms for its defense as well as maintain peace and stability in the Western Pacific.