China’s military dispatched 19 aircraft to Taiwan’s “air defense identification zone” on Sunday, including several nuclear-capable bombers, on the eve of the annual Taipei war games exercises.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army air force’s departure was one of the largest in weeks and included 10 J-16 fighters and four Su-30s, as well as four H-6 bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, and a antisubmarine. aircraft.
The planes flew off the coast of China towards the southern tip of Taiwan, north of the disputed Pratas Island and towards the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (Adiz). The area is not Taiwan’s territorial airspace, but the raids cause the Taiwanese air force to scramble aircraft in response, and missile monitoring systems were also deployed on Sunday.
PLA flights to Taiwan have increased in the past 18 months, with almost daily flight periods involving a generally small number of aircraft. The largest recorded was 28 aircraft shipped in June. Planes have also been dispatched beyond Taiwan and up the island’s east coast.
While activity has increased overall, large PLA raids generally appear to be in response to particular events – for example, the sale of weapons from the United States to Taiwan or military activity in or near the Taiwan Strait.
It was unclear what prompted Sunday’s action, but Taiwan’s annual large-scale live-fire exercises are scheduled to begin next weekend, with rehearsal drills to be held on Monday. In recent weeks, US and UK military ships have also sailed the region, with a US warship and a US Coast Guard crossing the Taiwan Strait.
The Taiwan Strait and the nearby South and East China Seas are geopolitically sensitive and the site of increasing Chinese expansionist activities. Beijing views Taiwan as a province of China under what it calls the “one-China principle,” and has not ruled out the use of force to “rally” it. He considers the Taiwanese government led by Tsai Ing-wen to be separatist. The Tsai administration maintains that Taiwan is already an independent state.
There is growing speculation about the likelihood that Beijing, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, will decide to move towards Taiwan. Possible circumstances and timing are debated loudly, but there is a general consensus that the risk is higher now than it has been for decades.
In a report to parliament last month, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said China has the ability to “cripple” the island’s defenses, including through cyberattacks, Reuters reported.
China “may combine with its Internet army to launch wired and wireless attacks against the global Internet, which would initially cripple our air defenses, control of the sea, and counterattack system capabilities, posing a great threat to us.” the ministry report said. .
As China has become more isolated on the world stage, modernized its military, and expanded its activities in border and disputed regions, tensions have increased between its government and Taiwan and its supporters. The United States maintains a policy that does not guarantee or rule out coming to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an attack, but under President Donald Trump the United States increased its arms sales to Taiwan, and the Biden administration has reaffirmed its support.
Japan has also increasingly expressed concern about the threat from China. His deputy prime minister commented in July that an attack on Taiwan could be seen as an existential threat to Japan, resulting in constitutional permits for the country to participate militarily. According to a 2015 reinterpretation of its pacifist post-WWII constitution, Japan says it can use force to help an ally, with the justification that failing to do so could endanger Japan.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism