China sends 77 warplanes into Taiwan defense zone over two days, Taipei says

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Taiwan has reported 38 and 39 aircraft in a day, respectively, the most intrusions since it began publicly reporting such activities last year.

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The ministry said in two statements that the infiltration on Saturday took place in two batches – 20 aircraft during day time and 19 aircraft at night. The Defense Ministry said these were manned by 26 J-16 fighter jets, 10 Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, two Y-8 anti-submarine warning aircraft and one KJ-500 aerial early warning and control aircraft.

In response to the incursion, the Taiwanese Air Force retrieved the aircraft, issued radio warnings and deployed an air defense missile system, the ministry said.


Maps provided by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense showed all Chinese flights on Saturday were in the southwest of the island’s ADIZ.

The incursion did not violate Taiwan’s airspace, which extends up to 12 nautical miles from its coast. The US Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “a designated area of ​​airspace on land or water within which a country requires immediate and positive identification, location and air traffic control of aircraft in the interest of the nation’s national security.” it occurs.”

Prior to the previous two days, the previous one-day record for People’s Liberation Army (PLA) flights to Taiwan’s ADIZ was in June, when 28 Chinese military aircraft entered.
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The incursions on Friday came as Beijing celebrated 72 years of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since the end of a civil war more than seven decades ago in which defeated nationalists fled to Taipei.

However, Beijing views Taiwan as an inseparable part of its territory – even though the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled the democratic island of about 24 million people.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ruled out the possibility of military force to occupy Taiwan if needed.

In the past, analysts have said that PLA flights to China serve a number of purposes, both to showcase the PLA’s prowess to a domestic audience and to provide Chinese military intelligence and skills that will help in any potential conflict involving Taiwan. will be required.

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“Xi Jinping has instructed the PLA to increase its preparedness and prepare for war under ‘realistic fighting conditions’.” Therefore, it is relatively surprising that the PLA continues to fly into Taiwan’s ADIZ as part of realistic training and preparedness for armed conflict,” Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation policy think tank, told Granthshala on Saturday.

Despite the increase in PLA flights and harsh rhetoric, Grossman does not think combat is imminent.

“I don’t think there is a high or medium chance of a Chinese attack or an invasion of Taiwan,” he told Granthshala.

“The PLA still has many weaknesses, especially when faced with near-definite interference from the United States – perhaps? – Japanese and Australian support,” he said. “China understands the grave harm of a failed attack or invasion of Taiwan and will likely continue to spend its time.”

But none of the messages from Beijing may be about the main island of Taiwan, other analysts say.

Maps provided by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense show that PLA Air Force flights are arriving around Pratas Island, which is located at the top of the South China Sea and is actually closer to Hong Kong than Taiwan.

The island has no permanent residents, but is home to a small Taiwanese military contingent and has an airstrip. Analysts say it is flat and will be difficult to defend.

“China can control the Pratas Islands whenever President Xi Jinping decides,” said Professor Yoshiyuki Ogasawara of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. wrote on The Diplomat in December.

“The island is a potential flashpoint that now needs to be brought to the attention of the US, Japan and other democracies,” Ogasawara wrote.


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