Chinese planes exits record near Taiwan warns US

Beijing carried out 93 military sorties near Taiwan over three days as China celebrated its national day, its biggest boost in the past year, prompting the United States to warn against what it has qualified as provocative military activity.

On Friday, the Chinese sent 38 military planes, including J-16 jet fighters, H-6 strategic bombers and Y-8 submarine spotting planes, overflying the southern air defense identification area. western Taiwan more than on any other outing in the past. year. The next day, the People’s Liberation Army broke this record by sending in 39 more planes. China sent another 16 military jets on Sunday, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.

Taiwan responded to the PLA deployment with fighter jets to keep intruders at bay, issued radio warnings and deployed missile systems to track their activity, the Taiwan Air Force said in a statement. . The Air Force also released a video on Saturday in response to such activity, saying in the text accompanying the footage of its fighter jets and pilots: “How can we let our enemy’s planes fly over us!”

The plane’s maneuvers coincided with China’s National Day on October 1. Taiwan, the autonomous island that Beijing claims as its territory and is committed to assimilating, celebrates its own national day on October 10. The frequency of such aircraft deployments has increased, as the Chinese PLA has stepped up its presence around Taiwan over the past year, as part of the closer ties between Taipei and Washington.

Growing concerns about the Taiwan Strait as an international flashpoint are clear from politicians’ comments and military maneuvers. President Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven Great Democracies in June cited the concern in a statement which said: “We stress the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage it. peaceful settlement of cross-strait issues “.

It was the very first official mention of Taiwan by G-7 leaders and it was echoed by officials of individual countries, especially in an increasingly hawkish Japan.

The US Navy has stepped up freedom of navigation operations in and around the Strait, with departures from other Western nations, including French and British forces. Last month, the United States passed a bill calling on the United States to invite Taiwan to multi-sea exercises in the Pacific Ocean next year; Beijing was shunned a few years ago from the US-led Rim of the Pacific biennial exercises.

The US State Department reiterated its commitment to Taiwan in a statement Sunday, adding that the United States was very concerned about military activity near Taiwan and would continue to help Taiwan maintain “sufficient self-defense capability.” .

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it will strengthen cooperation with the United States to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

J. Michael Cole, senior researcher at the Global Taiwan Institute, said the maneuvers were an effort to send signals to a variety of actors, not just the government of Taiwan and its people. “It is a low-cost instrument for China to show its own people that it is setting the agenda in cross-strait relations and to send a message of deterrence and intimidation to Taiwan and to other governments deploying ships in the Taiwan Strait and region. . “

The PLA has carried out more than 750 warplane sorties near Taiwan over the past year, according to a Wall Street Journal tally of sorties based on statements by the Taiwan Defense Ministry, which began to release this data on September 16, 2020. More than 600 of these planes have been shipped this year, according to the data.

An Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, extends beyond a territory’s airspace and is monitored in the interest of giving its military time to respond to any incoming foreign aircraft. The Chinese plane did not penetrate the 12 nautical miles of Taiwan’s airspace.

China established its own East China Sea ADIZ in 2013, requiring planes to identify themselves when entering the area that stretches 200 miles from its coast in the East China Sea. The US government said at the time that it would not honor the area, but commercial planes did.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Air Force in February 2020 flew a B-52 through the Chinese area, in a triangle that swept from Guam along the Japanese coast and approached the northern tip. from Taiwan.

China is trying to keep US forces away near its shores and follow Navy ships entering the region, including the South China Sea, where Beijing has built military outposts on reclaimed land.

Inside Taiwan, the plane’s deployment alarmed policymakers such as Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister. Wu tweeted on Saturday that China sent a record number of outings the day before. He added: “Threatening? Sure.”

On Thursday, the Chinese Taiwan Affairs Bureau issued a harsh statement against Mr. Wu and rejecting what it called “independent provocations from Taiwan.”

“We say to people like Joseph Wu: Taiwan’s independence is a dead end,” the statement read. “All kinds of Taiwan independence talks are nothing more than the buzzing of flies. A few cries, a few sobs.

China’s National Day marks the triumph of the Communist Party in 1949, and flexing military muscles is standard operating procedure for the celebrations. On the 70th anniversary of his rule on National Day 2019, for example, President Xi Jinping reviewed PLA troops and new ballistic missiles from an open-top limousine.

The exits also come just weeks after Taiwan unveiled a bill calling on authorities to significantly increase military spending over the next five years. The effort called for the allocation of around $ 8.7 billion over the next five years to fund new weapon systems that would better equip the island to repel an attack from China. These include local precision missiles and high-performance warships, and the new spending would add to Taiwan’s annual military budget, which is expected to grow 4 percent in 2022 to a record $ 15.1 billion. dollars.

In January, China also staged a similar show of air power to Taiwan, just days after Mr Biden took office. Then, the move was seen as an attempt to warn the Biden administration and the United States, Taiwan’s biggest supporter, of the issues surrounding support for the island.

Write to Liza Lin at [email protected] and James T. Areddy at [email protected]

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