In a recent and alarming development, Taiwan’s defense authorities have detected an unprecedented number of Chinese warplanes in close proximity to the self-ruled island. Over a span of 24 hours, a staggering 103 Chinese aircraft were identified, marking a significant escalation in the ongoing tensions between Taiwan and China.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence described this number as a “recent high” and expressed grave concerns over the security implications for both the Taiwan Strait and the broader region. The ministry’s statement highlighted the severity of the situation, noting that such “continued military harassment can easily lead to a sharp escalation in tension and worsen regional security.” This information was corroborated by a report from Livemint.
Of the total number of aircraft detected, 40 crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a demarcation that separates Taiwan from mainland China. These aircraft entered Taiwan’s southwest and southeast air defense identification zones (ADIZ), further intensifying the situation.
The recent uptick in Chinese military activity around Taiwan coincided with the passage of naval vessels from the United States and Canada through the Taiwan Strait. In response to this, Beijing reportedly placed its troops on “high alert.” Within a 24-hour window, Taiwan’s defense ministry detected 68 Chinese aircraft and 10 naval vessels in the vicinity of the island. Some of these assets were en route to the Western Pacific for joint sea and air training exercises, in collaboration with China’s Shandong aircraft carrier, as detailed by France 24.
The Shandong, one of China’s two operational aircraft carriers, was spotted approximately 60 nautical miles southeast of Taiwan, heading towards the Western Pacific. This move by the Chinese military was closely monitored by other regional powers as well. Japan’s defense ministry reported that its navy had identified six Chinese naval vessels, including frigates, destroyers, and the Shandong, sailing about 650 kilometers south of Miyakojima island, located to the east of Taiwan.
China flies 103 military planes toward Taiwan in a new high of activity the island calls harassment https://t.co/ybJvNInhMn
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) September 18, 2023
Analysts believe that China’s recent military posturing could be a strategic move to counter the growing influence of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. Su Tzu-yun, an expert at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defence and Security Research, opined that China is aiming to counteract the military containment efforts of democratic allies led by the U.S. This perspective gains further traction considering China’s past reactions to diplomatic engagements between Taiwan and the U.S.
Despite the palpable tension, China has refrained from making any official comments regarding its recent military activities near Taiwan. However, a post on the Weibo social media platform by China’s state-run Global Times reiterated Beijing’s long-standing stance on Taiwan. The post emphasized that both the mainland and Taiwan are integral parts of China and underscored the People’s Liberation Army’s commitment to safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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