China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) sent a fleet of 39 aircraft into the southwest corner of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday, Taiwan News reported, noting the incursion marked the highest number of PLAAF planes to enter Taiwan’s ADIZ in a single day since October 2021.
The PLAAF ordered “24 Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, 10 Chengdu J-10 fighters, one Xi’an H-6 bomber, two Shaanxi Y-9 electronic warfare aircraft (Y-9 EW), and two Shaanxi Y-8 electronic intelligence spotter planes (Y-8 ELINT)” to fly through the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ on January 23 a short distance northeast of Taiwan’s Dongsha Islands, according to Taiwan News.
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) January 23, 2022
Beijing claims the Dongsha island chain, along with the larger island of Taiwan itself, as its own territory, and has stepped up military drills near the South China Sea entities in recent months in an effort to intimidate Taipei into accepting its sovereignty contentions. The democratically elected government of Taiwan has remained steadfast in denouncing China’s actions as bullying tactics meant to coerce the island nation into submission to a foreign ruling system, specifically the Chinese Communist Party.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed Sunday’s PLAAF intrusion into Taiwan’s ADIZ in a statement released at 10:45 p.m. local time that same day. The ministry said it responded to the violation of Taiwan’s peripheral air space by “scrambling combat patrol aircraft, issuing radio warnings, and deploying air defense missile systems.”
“No shots have been fired and the Chinese aircraft have not been flying in Taiwan’s air space, but in its ADIZ, a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats,” Reuters observed on January 23 while reporting on the PLAAF’s latest air drill near Taiwan.
China’s intrusion into Taiwan’s air buffer zone on January 23 matched a record set on October 2, 2021, for the second-highest number of PLAAF aircraft to pass through the island nation’s ADIZ in a single day. Beijing set an all-time record for the number of Chinese PLAAF aircraft to penetrate Taiwan’s ADIZ within a single 24-hour period on October 4, 2021, when it ordered a fleet of 56 aircraft to sweep through the air zone. The record-breaking military drill formed part of a greater, four-day-long incursion into Taiwan’s ADIZ from October 1 through October 4, 2021, during which China’s PLAAF sent a total of 148 aircraft to violate the sensitive airspace. The first day of the exercises, October 1, 2021, coincided with China’s National Day, a patriotic holiday trumpeted by Beijing.
The Chinese air incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ have continued almost daily in smaller numbers since October 4, 2021.