Asia-Pacific, China, Power & Security The PLA Air Force Erases the Taiwan Strait Centerline

September 7, 2022
By Thomas J. Shattuck | Global Taiwan Institute

In response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s early August 2022 visit to Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) carried out an unprecedented military and economic response to punish Taipei. Much analysis has already covered the live-fire missile tests conducted around (and over) Taiwan, as well as the joint military exercises that accompanied them...

Since September 2020, Chinese military planes have only crossed the centerline of the Taiwan Strait on a few occasions. Both Beijing and Taipei have long tacitly observed and respected the demarcation of the strait, known as the Davis Line, after Air Force General Benjamin O. Davis Jr., who drew the line in 1955 after the signing of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty in 1954. [1] It was drawn to reduce the risk of military confrontation between Beijing and Taipei, and particularly to reign in the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) regime from drawing the United States into a war. From 1955 until 1999, no Chinese military aircraft crossed the centerline. While the line has never been an official, internationally recognized feature, both sides acknowledged and observed the norm for nearly 70 years. The centerline has existed longer than the so-called “1992 Consensus” (九二共識), the similarly ambiguous agreement that Beijing insists serves as the foundation for cross-Strait interactions. 

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