The Chinese military has deployed a large number of jets in close proximity to Taiwan.
Over the weekend, China’s military increased its provocative military activities near Taiwan, flying over 100 military aircraft close to the democratic island it has expressed intentions of eventually seizing.
On Sunday, the Taiwan Defense Ministry revealed that a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) disclosed the detection of 103 jets. Out of these, 40 planes crossed the median line that runs through the center of the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. Additionally, the ministry reported the sighting of nine PLA navy vessels.
The Chinese warplanes included 10 Su-30s, 12 J-10s, four J-11s, 10 J-16s, two Y-20 refueling tankers and two KJ-500 warning and control jets.
The latest demonstration followed major PLA war games around Taiwan from Sept. 11 to Sept. 15 that included 20 warships, among them the aircraft carrier Shandong and two other action groups of destroyers and frigates. Taipei said that in response Taiwanese jets were scrambled, naval vessels deployed, and land-based missile systems activated.
Until recently, adhering to the unspoken boundary in the sea that separates Taiwan and mainland China has been crucial in preserving a delicate balance. Experts suggest that China’s recent crossings of the median line demonstrate its intention to disrupt the established order, despite continuous objections from the United States and Taiwan.
China’s recent military actions over the weekend seem to be a strategic move to assert their territorial claims in the maritime region, a stance that is strongly opposed by the United States and smaller nations in East Asia.
Chinese vessels recently fired a water cannon at a Philippines ship seeking to resupply a grounded naval vessel in the Spratly Islands being used as a military base.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the Japanese government has expressed its objection to China placing an oceanographic buoy within Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the Senkaku Islands. The purpose of these buoys is to gather data that could potentially assist in guiding coast guard ships, monitoring variables like wave size and current.
China and Japan have been engaged in a longstanding dispute regarding the ownership of the unpopulated islands.
Chinese state media referred to the warplane flights near Taiwan on Sunday as “record-breaking.” These flights occurred simultaneously with a significant war game exercise involving 20 naval vessels from the PLA around the island.
The timing of the extensive military operations in the air and sea seemed to align with the meetings between Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser of the White House, and Wang Yi, the Foreign Minister of China. Taiwan was a significant subject discussed during these talks, as stated by a senior official from the Biden administration on Sunday.
The two days of secret meetings that ended Sunday were held on the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. Mr. Wang then flew on to Moscow for talks with top Russian leaders.
According to a statement from the White House, the objective of the Malta talks was to enhance communication and uphold relations in times of tension.
“The statement acknowledged that the two parties engaged in open, meaningful, and productive conversations. It highlighted the initiation of a reset initiative during a meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022 between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The discussions encompassed important subjects such as Taiwan and the conflict in Ukraine.”
Mr. Wang reportedly conveyed to Mr. Sullivan, according to Chinese state media, that Taiwan is an inviolable boundary that should not be breached.
On August 31, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the PLA, justified the recent military exercises conducted by China near Taiwan. He stated that these exercises were intended to discourage any attempts by separatist groups within Taiwan and to prevent any foreign intervention.
“I caution the authorities of the Democratic Progressive Party against attempting to resist the inevitable. If they do so, they will find themselves in a hopeless situation,” Colonel Wu stated, alluding to the current ruling pro-independence political party in Taipei.
The unannounced deployment of more than 100 aircraft in a single day, as reported by the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, suggests a significant and extensive operational effort.
Fu Qianshao, a retired PLA air force officer, told the paper that the large number of forces around Taiwan are a sign that combat-oriented exercises reached a new level and “can be turned into real action at any time if necessary.”