‘Determined for War’: China Orders Fighter Jets to Circle Taiwan

This photo taken on October 23, 2013 shows Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jets leaving their base in Shanghai. Beijing's behaviour in its row with Tokyo over disputed islands is jeopardising peace, Japan's defence minister said on October 29, days after China warned a reported plan to shoot down …
MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

Several Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jets and a U.S. military transport plane flew in Taiwan’s airspace Tuesday morning, Focus Taiwan reported.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed the activity in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, saying: “[S]everal Chinese Su-30s briefly entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone southwest of Taiwan, and Taiwan’s Air Force responded with radio warnings and monitored their movements until they flew off.”

Focus Taiwan described China’s fighter jet activity as an “intrusion” into Taiwan’s airspace, while the U.S. C-40A transport plane that flew through Taiwan’s airspace earlier on Tuesday was described by the MND as having done so with Taiwan’s permission.

“The U.S. aircraft entered our airspace after making a prior application in accordance with proper procedures. It did not land at any of our airports,” the MND explained in a separate statement.

According to the report, air radar trackers Golf9 and AirNav RadarBox posted images online showing “the U.S. Navy transport plane flew directly over Taiwan’s west coast in a southerly direction Tuesday morning, after taking off from Okinawa, Japan.” Golf9 said the U.S. transport plane’s flight path directly over Taiwan seemed “rare” because the U.S. military typically limits its operations to international waters or airspace around Taiwan.

Chinese military “experts” commented on the PLA fighter jets’ flight through Taiwan’s airspace Tuesday in an article published by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) newspaper Global Times on Wednesday:

The U.S. warplane’s rare flight over Taiwan showed the increasing collaboration between the U.S. military and Taiwan secessionists, and the Chinese mainland’s fighter jet sorties and approaches sent them a powerful warning and demonstrated how much the PLA was determined and prepared for war.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese “military expert and TV commentator” told the Global Times that the latest PLA Su-30 exercises were “required by the demands of enhancing war preparedness” amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan, its western allies, and China:

PLA aircraft usually exercise restraints when conducting missions related to Taiwan, like flying on the Chinese mainland side of the ‘middle line’ of the Straits. But this time, they flew to the southwestern ‘airspace’ of the island [Taiwan], which showed the determination and capability of the PLA, and this will become more frequent and routine.

According to the article, the PLA has also recently organized intensive landing and naval drills “including some featuring amphibious tanks storming the beaches and civilian ships transporting tanks and armored vehicles across the sea.” China holds these military drills in an effort to intimidate Taiwan, but as Focus Taiwan reported on Tuesday, the island nation will soon demonstrate its own military preparedness in response. Taiwan’s annual “Han Kuang” war games are scheduled for July and September this year and will “test the country’s asymmetric capabilities to ward off hostile forces at sea and along its beaches,” the MND announced.

Tuesday’s sorties come amid rising regional tension between Taiwan, a sovereign nation, and China, which considers the island a rebellious province seeking secession from the mainland. Beijing resents Western allies, such as the U.S., who support Taiwan as it governs and functions successfully, completely independent of China.

The U.S. has flown military aircraft near Taiwan’s airspace several times this year in a show of support to Taiwan, which has increasingly been bullied by China in its own airspace and waters. On June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in a symbolic gesture both honoring the occasion and showing support for Taiwan as it continues to battle Chinese oppression.

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