World Taiwan Official Calls China Situation 'Most Severe' in Decades Amid Chinese Military Actions
China's Military Aircraft Flights Near Taiwan Hit Monthly Record High
China's warplanes flew 117 sorties off southwest Taiwan in September—the most since public records began—but not every flight is a message for Taipei.Taiwan's Defense Ministry has been publicizing PLA Air Force sorties into its air defense identification zone for 13 months. An ADIZ is a self-declared airspace not regulated under international law, and a part large of Taiwan's zone extends into the Chinese provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangxi, even though it only concerns itself with activity that occurs on its side of the Taiwan Strait median line.
A Taiwan official called the situation with China the "most severe" in decades amid increased Chinese military action.
China's People's Liberation Army capped off four days of sustained pressure in the region with a record-setting 56 planes flying off the coast of Taiwan Monday. While the flights occurred in international airspace, Taiwanese defense forces fear any escalation.
U.S. and Taiwan Coast Guards to Hold First Joint Drills At Sea: Report
Ship-tracking software showed Taiwan Coast Guard vessels sailing into the Pacific on Tuesday and Wednesday, but no U.S. Coast Guard ships were detected nearby.The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, confirmed on Wednesday the first meeting had taken place of the U.S.-Taiwan Coast Guard Working Group (CGWG)—a pact agreed back in March as a way to increase maritime cooperation between the two countries.
Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng described the situation to legislators Wednesday as "the most severe in the 40 years since I've enlisted."
The United States called China's action "risky" and "destabilizing" as the U.S. and other Western nations increase their naval presence in the region.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
While most agree that war is not imminent, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen warned that more is at stake if Beijing makes good on past threats to seize the island by force if necessary.
"If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system," she wrote in an impassioned op-ed in Foreign Affairs magazine published Tuesday. "It would signal that in today's global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy."
5 things to know about China's record surge of warplanes near Taiwan
China's record number of incursions of warplanes into Taiwan's defense zone over the past four days plays to Beijing's military strengths while sending potent messages both at home and far beyond the self-governed island, Western analysts say. © Taiwan Ministry of Defense/AP The Taiwan Ministry of Defense released this undated file photo of a Chinese J-16 fighter jet when they announced that PLA aircrafts entered their air defense identification zone.
China regularly flies military aircraft into Taiwan's "air defense identification zone," international airspace that Taiwan counts as a buffer in its defense strategy, although previous flights have usually involved a handful of planes at most.
Perhaps more significant than the number of planes was the constitution of the group, with fighters, bombers and airborne early warning aircraft, said Euan Graham, a defense analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.
"That's the level of sophistication — it looks like a strike package, and that's part of the step up in pressure," he said. "This is not a couple of fighters coming close and then going straight back after putting one wing across the median; this is a much more purposeful maneuver."
Controlling Taiwan and its airspace is key to China's military strategy, with the area where the most recent sorties took place also leading to the west Pacific and the South China Sea.
Tensions flare as Chinese flights near Taiwan intensify
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — With record numbers of military flights near Taiwan over the last week, China has been showing a new intensity and military sophistication as it steps up its harassment of the island it claims as its own and asserts its territorial ambitions in the region. China's People's Liberation Army flew 56 planes in international airspace off the southwest coast of Taiwan on Monday, setting a new record and capping four days of sustained pressure involving 149 flights. The actions came as China, with growing diplomatic and military power, faces greater pushback from countries in the region and as Taiwan pleads for more global support and recognition.
The latest maneuvers bring the total number of flights to more than 815 as of Monday since the Taiwanese government started publicly releasing the numbers a little more than a year ago.
China has been rapidly improving and strengthening its military, and the most recent flights demonstrate a greater level of technical expertise and power, said Chen-Yi Tu, a researcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan.
It's a marked contrast from 20, 30 years ago, when Chinese forces couldn't refuel in the air, or fly across the water, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies atand non-resident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
"I think China is trying to remind the U.S. and Taiwan that this is not then, that they have options," she said. "They can do what they want, that they won't be deterred."
At the same time, many democracies have been increasingly vocal in their support of Taiwan and have stepped up naval operations in the area.
France, Taiwan Meet Despite China Warning That Talks Will Damage Relationship With French
Ahead of the trip, China tried to discourage the French senators from going to Taiwan.Ahead of the trip, China attempted to discourage the senators from visiting. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a September 30 news conference that Beijing was opposed to relations between France and Taiwan.
As China was conducting its most recent flights, 17 ships from six navies — the U.S., Britain, Japan, Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand — including three aircraft carriers and a Japanese helicopter carrier — carried out joint maneuvers off the Japanese island of Okinawa, northeast of Taiwan, meant to show their commitment to a "free and open Indo-Pacific."
A few days earlier, the British frigate HMS Richmond transited through the Taiwan Strait, announcing its presence onand angering China, which condemned the move as a "meaningless display of presence with an insidious intention."
The international actions are an attempt to counter China's frequent claim that its own actions are in response to American moves, and demonstrate that democracies intend to defend established maritime laws and norms, Graham said.
"When the U.K. sends a ship through the Taiwan Strait for the first time since 2008 and it sailed down the median line, the point that it's making is that they know China knows where that line is," he said. "In order for the status quo to be meaningful, it has to be upheld and the most emphatic way to do that is to physically demonstrate with a government asset like a warship."
Australia, which also spoke out against China's recent flights, last month announced a deal with the U.S. and Britain to obtain nuclear-powered submarines, which was seen as a strong statement it planned to play a greater role.
Taiwan wants 'status quo', not China's path, president says
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan's president on Sunday called for the maintenance of the political status quo in a forthright speech which acknowledged rising pressure from China Tsai Ing-wen also firmly rejected Chinese military coercion, a stance driven home by a rare demonstration of Taiwan’s defense capabilities in a parade on its National Day. A choir of singers from Taiwan’s various indigenous tribes sang to open the ceremony in front of the Presidential Office Building in the center of Taipei that was built by the Japanese who ruled the island as a colony for 500 years until the end of World War II.
And Japan, which has long been cautious with its relations with China, a key trading partner, now considers the country a security threat amid Beijing's increasingly assertive activity in the regional seas and around the Taiwan Strait. New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said dialogue with China is important but Japan should also team up with like-minded democracies and step up its security alliance with the U.S. and other partners while Tokyo also strengthens its defense capabilities.
"We are seeing a slow emergence of some sort of coalition of democracies in the region that are trying to come together to build some sort of mechanism to respond to Chinese behavior in the region," said J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with Global Taiwan Institute in Washington, D.C.
Under longstanding policy, the United States provides political and military support for Taiwan but does not explicitly promise to defend it from a Chinese attack.
Still, as the U.S. increases its military activities in the Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese response has been to increase its own, said Yue Gang, a retired Chinese army colonel and Beijing-based military commentator.
"The Biden administration has been increasing military deterrence against China, not only by dispatching many warships and warplanes, but also showcasing its allies," he said. "One of the possibilities is that the mainland hopes to send a signal it will not be misjudged as weak."
The Chinese flights into the Taiwanese defense buffer zone have forced Taiwan to scramble its own aircraft and anti-aircraft missile batteries, wearing down their readiness and reducing their capabilities, Yue said.
The US can't fight China for Taiwan, but it can help Taiwan make China think twice about starting a war
The best way to deter China from attacking Taiwan is to encourage Taiwan to invest in its own ability to make China pay if it ever resorts to force.On Friday, the semi-official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, the Global Times, warned the presence of US troops in Taiwan will accelerate "preparations for military actions" and that once "war breaks out in the Taiwan Straits, those US. Military personnel will be the first to be eliminated.
"Every time a warplane takes off, the engine life is reduced to some extent," he said.
In addition to keeping Taiwan on edge, the sorties also help the Chinese pilots keep their edge, and could eventually help give them an element of surprise "if the scenario is to eventually use hard power to resolve their unification claim over Taiwan," Graham said.
"It's hard to know if exercise 39 or exercise 57 is the one that isn't an exercise," he said.
For the moment, however, most agree that is not the immediate goal.
"It's more signaling and psychological warfare and a warning to the U.S. to not be so close to Taiwan," Mastro said.
China Says Warplane Exercises Are Warnings to Taiwan and U.S. .
A Chinese government spokesperson removed any doubt surrounding the intended targets of the recent exercises during a press conference on Wednesday.Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) in Beijing, spoke after Taiwan's Defense Ministry detected 153 People's Liberation Army warplane sorties into the international airspace southwest of the island, including 150 flights in the span of five days.