Social media is abuzz with images and videos of the Chinese military drills as the tensions in the Taiwan Strait escalate dramatically. A picture of what appears to be a Chinese military vehicle bearing the infamous letter “Z” is also going viral on the internet.
Russian military operations in Ukraine are symbolized by the letter Z. Since the start of the invasion, Russian armed vehicles with the Z emblem painted on them have been regularly spotted in Ukraine.
The image surfaced on the internet as China encircled the island nation and staged intense drills in response to Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit. It raised fears that China might take a similar course as Russia and invade Taiwan.
The armored car in the image is believed to be a Chinese Dongfeng EQ2050. Internet users speculated that the vehicle was spotted in Fujian province, where Chinese military activity has recently increased.
Dongfeng EQ2050 is the Chinese replica of the American HMMWV. In China, it is known as Mengshi. The Chinese army uses it in combat, manufacturing these vehicles in good numbers. The Chinese military and paramilitary groups employ it frequently.
However, the picture in question also circulated online in March, claiming that it represented the Chinese military vehicle with the letter Z. It speculated that it is a civilian car because it has a blue license plate. Also, the vehicle is said to be registered in Liaoning, Northeast China.
~Old pic and reportedly civilian vehicle. https://t.co/zjzehC8KZt
— War Monitor (@WarfareReports) August 3, 2022
This high mobility vehicle also comes in a civil version and is exported to some countries, including Belarus and Zimbabwe. The picture with the Z symbol nevertheless conveys Chinese citizens’ support for Russia in its conflict with Ukraine.
Russian military equipment, including submarines, have routinely featured Z on them. Two possible interpretations for the Z symbol found on Russian military vehicles have been noted: “Zapad,” which means “west,” and “Za pobedy,” which means “victory.”
The Z is also intended to serve as a mechanism for the Russian military to identify its surrounding forces, thereby averting incidents like friendly fire.
China Plans To Invade Taiwan?
In response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has begun its most extensive military exercises in the area, dispatching dozens of fighter jets and warships and firing ballistic missiles.
As a result of the drills, regional tensions have increased. Japan claims several missiles launched by Chinese forces landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also showed its concern stating, “the situation risked miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”
According to Chinese state media, live-fire sea and air drills are occurring in six zones all around Taiwan, which is located 180 kilometers (112 miles) off the coast of China.
The drills involve more than 100 aircraft, including bombers, fighter jets, and ten warships, as reported by EurAsian Times.
For the first time since 1996, Chinese rocket forces launched several ballistic missiles into the waters off Taiwan to demonstrate its military capabilities. Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed the launch of 11 missiles, identifying them as Dongfeng ballistic weapons.
Concerns about whether Beijing intends to invade Taiwan have returned in response to these extraordinary military exercises. The state-run Global Times also published expert commentary defining the drills as a practice for “reunification,” which raised a more serious question about the objectives of these drills.
Moreover, experts believe China has learned from Russia’s expensive but gradual territorial expansion in Ukraine and formulated its plan to attack Taiwan. However, even though China has the largest naval force in the world, a military takeover of Taiwan would be fraught with danger.
Additionally, there is a chance that an invasion could lead to a more serious conflict between China and the US. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 requires the US to aid Taiwan in self-defense even though it does not acknowledge the island as a sovereign nation.
US President Joe Biden said in May that Washington would defend Taiwan with force if a Chinese attack occurred. Besides, Washington places strategic value on the island.