by Huizhong Wu
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – China on Monday flew 56 fighter jets toward Taiwan in the biggest show of force on record, continuing three days of unrelenting military offensive against the self-ruled island.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, the first sorties of 52 aircraft included 34 J-16 fighter jets and 12 H-6 bombers. Later, four more Chinese J-16s flew towards the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defense detection zone – a buffer outside the country’s airspace.
The ministry said Taiwan’s air force re-examined its fighter jets and monitored the movement of Chinese warplanes on its air defense system.
China claims to rule Taiwan democratically and should be brought under its control by force if necessary. It refuses to recognize the island’s government and calls for the separation of President Tsai Ing-wen’s independence-leaning administration.
Experts have called flights and other military maneuvers by Beijing gray zone warfare, or any form of military action less than direct warfare. Many say they do not believe in the show of force and aggressive rhetoric, much of which is repetitive, will lead to war.
“We are very concerned that China is going to start a war against Taiwan at some point, even if the threat is not imminent at this point,” Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s broadcast on Monday. ” .
Taiwan and China split in 1949 during the civil war, and Beijing opposes Taiwan’s participation in international organizations. Taiwan announced on 23 September that it had applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a week after China submitted its application to join the trade agreement.
Since last Friday, on China’s National Day, the People’s Liberation Army sent 38 warplanes and 39 aircraft to the region on Saturday, the most in one day since Taiwan released a report on flights in September 2020. China sent an additional 16 aircraft. on Sunday.
The latest maneuver by the Chinese Air Force brings the total to 814 flights.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in Washington on Monday: “We are concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability.” We urge Beijing to cease military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.
In response to a similar statement from the US State Department over the weekend, China’s foreign ministry said that the US selling arms to Taiwan, as well as ships navigating the Taiwan Strait, “was provoking actions that affected US-China relations.” harmed.”
“China will take all necessary retaliatory measures and crush any ‘Taiwan independence’ conspiracy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in a statement on Monday night.
The latest flights have come in distinct clusters with day and night incursions. Analysts say night-time flights deserve attention, as they are more challenging due to reduced visibility.
“They have the confidence to work at night,” said Chen-Yi Tu, a researcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan.