Were the Chinese Bluffing?

A lot of people seem to think so, particularly Karl Denninger, in light of the failure of the Chinese to follow through on the threatened military response to Nancy Pelosi landing in Taiwan. And while that’s obviously the likely explanation, it should be kept in mind that “exercises” and “training operations” have often been historically utilized as cover for incipient invasions:

Beijing has begun conducting military drills off Taiwan after promising to launch a series of “targeted military operations” in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island, Chinese media reported.

“The Eastern Zone of the PLA Combat Command is consistently conducting a series of joint military operations around the island of Taiwan,” CCTV reported hours after Pelosi arrived on the island.

Pelosi touched down in Taipei late on Tuesday despite repeated warnings from Beijing against attempting to visit territory that it regards as an integral part of China.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is on high alert and will launch a series of targeted military operations to counter this, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely thwart external interference and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist attempts,” defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said, without providing any further detail.

In a separate statement, China’s Eastern Theater Command announced joint military drills off Taiwan, live-firing in the Taiwan Strait and missile test-launches in the sea east of Taiwan. The exercises kicked off early on Wednesday, footage circulated by Chinese CCTV shows.

I would not assume that the crisis has necessarily passed, as the exercises are scheduled to continue through August 6th. And remember, the Chinese seldom operate on a Western time frame. To simply back down and kowtow to the US military in front of the entire world just one day after celebrating the 95th birthday of the People’s Liberation Army strikes me as a rather improbable response.