From a military point of view it is important to exercise forces in the terrain where they will operate in the event of armed conflict, namely, border areas. Political reasons for training military forces in a border area include: demonstrating military strength with a view to deterring other countries from aggression; exerting pressure on neighbouring countries; strengthening the confidence of the local population. Such manoeuvres increase the tensions between countries, particularly when they are carried out without advance notice as to the size and composition of the forces involved, the purpose of their movement, and the areas in which the manoeuvre will take place. They may also provoke similar displays of force on the other side of the border. Such military alerts and the confrontations to which they give rise increase both the difficulty of peaceful negotiations and the risk of armed conflict.
In 1993 Japan, in collaboration with the USA, scheduled its largest postwar military exercise in a region near the Kuril islands which it sought to have returned by Russia.
In 1995, China intended to bring Taiwan's political leadership to heel with a series of naval, air and missile force maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait. Chinese military exercises have broad support among both military and civilian officials, who believe that Taipei is forsaking its adherence to the principle of "one China" and pursuing world recognition as an independent nation. Western military analysts and diplomats fear that events could spiral out of control in the Taiwan Strait, leading to deliberate or accidental military conflict between China and Taiwan. This in turn would create dangerous political and military choices for the United States. Open conflict would also force Japan and South Korea to weigh their own responses since US military units on their soil could become involved in resupplying Taiwan. At risk also is the economic integration between the economies of Taiwan and China, where Taiwanese businessmen have invested $20 milliard in mainland industries, part of a booming trading relationship that would be costly to unhinge.
Accidents happen when armed forces are maneuvering near each other and they run the risk of war by inadvertent surprises.
Continued Chinese military pressure is likely to lead to requests from Taiwan to its allies in the US Congress for major new arms sales, including submarines and ballistic missile defense systems.