(NewsNation) — Tension in east Asia is escalating as Chinese military drills continue to encroach on Taiwan and its territory following high-profile visits by American lawmakers. Taiwan is now accusing China of lying about how close its forces are really getting to the island.
China also imposed visa bans and other sanctions Tuesday on Taiwanese political figures as it raises pressure on the self-governing island and the U.S. in response to successive congressional visits.
The sanctions come a day after China announced more military exercises in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan because of what it called “collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan.” There’s been no word on the timing and scale of the Chinese exercises.
On Monday, China’s military posted aerial video of the Pentagon islands located between the two countries, home to a major Taiwanese airbase. But Taiwan says there’s no evidence that Chinese aircraft actually got that close, though it’s unclear where else the video may have come from.
China’s escalating military activity is a reaction to recent visits to the disputed island from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a second congressional delegation earlier this week.
Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow for Asian studies at the Heritage Foundation, believes that from the Chinese perspective, “It’s a real nightmare.”
Cheng explained that the Biden administration has been back and forth with its stance on Taiwan, and the recent visits to the island have left Beijing wondering if the U.S. is on the verge of altering its Taiwan policy.
“And if so, might it mean something as significant as perhaps openly supporting Taiwanese independence — the ultimate nightmare,” Cheng said.
But what seems to be forgotten, Cheng said, is that this is a three-way situation. Taiwan, if it were to openly declare independence, would upset both Beijing and Washington.
“That’s part of why we have what’s called strategic ambiguity. Part of our effort is to keep Taiwan from declaring independence,” Cheng said. “If Taiwan tomorrow said, we will join China and we will just become part of China again, Beijing, of course, would be ecstatic. That would be a huge shift in global microchip production, because Taiwan is the largest manufacturer of advanced microchips in the world. So Taiwan absolutely has agency, Taiwan absolutely is its own player. And we need to never forget that this is actually a three-way situation.”