China sent 47 aircraft across the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, its largest incursion into Taiwan’s air defense zone in recent months, as Beijing steps-up efforts to normalize aggressive military operations around the self-ruled island.
The incursions were made by 42 J-10, J-11, J-16 and Su-30 fighter jets. Two Y-8 maritime patrol aircrafts, a KJ-500 early warning aircraft, as well as a CH-4 and a WZ-7 military drone. According to the Taiwanese defense ministry.
It added that a total of 71 Chinese aircraft were spotte around the island. And that Taiwan’s military have responde by tasking combat air patrol aircrafts. Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems.
China carries out military exercises near Taiwan and Japan
The flights, part of a so-called “strike drill” according to China’s military, follow naval exercises by a Chinese aircraft carrier group in the Western Pacific close to Japan on Friday.
China’s ruling Communist Party views Taiwan – a democratically governed island of 24 million – as part of its territory, despite having never controlled it. It has long vowed to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
Tensions surrounding Taiwan have increased markedly this year. A visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August prompted fury from the Communist Party and an immediate flurry of military exercises.
Since then, Beijing has stepped up aggressive military pressure tactics on the island, sending fighter jets across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the body of water separating Taiwan and China and into the island’s air defense identification zone – a buffer of airspace commonly referred to as an ADIZ.
For decades, the median line had served as an informal demarcation line between the two, with military incursions across it being rare.
The newest activities came as the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said Sunday it conducted joint combat readiness patrol and “strike drills” around Taiwan, in response to “provocations” between Taiwan and the United States, without providing specific details.
“The troops will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Eastern Theater Command said.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden signed a sweeping new defense bill into law that included the establishment of a defense modernization program for Taiwan to deter Chinese aggression.
The Taiwanese defense ministry responded in a statement Sunday night that it has confidence in defending its sovereignty. “The actions of the Chinese Communist Party highlighted its mentality of using force to resolve differences, which undermines regional peace and stability,” it said.
“The cooperation between Taiwan and the United States will help safeguard a free, open and stable Indo-Pacific region. The military will continue to strengthen military preparedness based on enemy threats and self-defense needs,” it added.
In November, Biden met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in-person for the first time during his presidency at the G20 summit in Indonesia. Afterward, Biden described the three-hour meeting as “open and candid,” and cast doubt on an imminent invasion of Taiwan.
Formal bilateral talks on climate cooperation are expecte to resume. As well as part of a broader set of agreements between Biden and Xi with China. Having previously halte talks as part of retaliation for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.