On April 12th, China’s People Liberation Army flew 25 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ).
This is the largest “encroachment” ever by Beijing. At least from what is known when Taiwan began revealing the PLA warplane movement in 2020.
According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, the PLA warplanes – 14 Jian-16 fighter jets, four Jian-10s, four H-6K bombers, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes and one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft.
“[Taiwan’s] air force sent its air patrol force to shadow them, issued radio warnings and deployed missiles to monitor their movements,” the ministry said in a statement.
The latest flights came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Beijing against “invading” Taiwan.
“What we’ve seen, and what is of real concern to us, is increasingly aggressive actions by the government in Beijing directed at Taiwan, raising tensions in the straits,” Blinken said.
Blinken stressed that Washington has a long-standing commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to ensure that the island “has the ability to defend itself” and to assure that the US sustains peace and security in the Western Pacific.
“We stand behind those commitments,” he added.
On March 26th, 20 PLA warplanes flew into the zone shortly after Taipei and Washington signed their first agreement under the Biden administration for coastguard cooperation. That followed Beijing’s enactment of a new law permitting its coastguard to fire on foreign ships.
In 2020, Taiwan counted 380 “incursions” by Chinese jets into its air defence zone, according to Taipei authorities.
Earlier, on April 7th, State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed “great concern” at what he called pattern of Chinese efforts to intimidate others in the region, including Taiwan.
“The United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or any other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan,” Price said.
This accumulation of concerns meshes with the administration’s view that China is a frontline challenge for the United States and that more must be done soon — militarily, diplomatically and by other means — to deter Beijing as it seeks to supplant the United States as the predominant power in Asia. Some American military leaders see Taiwan as potentially the most immediate flashpoint.
On the same day, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the military threat against his country is increasing, and while he said it was not yet “particularly alarming,” the Chinese military in the last couple of years has been conducting what he called “real combat-type” exercises closer to the island.
“We are willing to defend ourselves, that’s without any question,” Wu told reporters. “We will fight a war if we need to fight a war, and if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day, then we will defend ourselves to the very last day.“
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