China Sends 91 Warplanes, 12 Naval Vessels on Final Day of Taiwan Drills

China Sends 91 Warplanes, 12 Naval Vessels on Final Day of Taiwan Drills
Customers dine near a giant screen broadcasting news footage of aircraft under the Eastern Theatre Command of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) taking part in a combat readiness patrol and "Joint Sword" exercises around Taiwan, at a restaurant in Beijing, China, on April 10, 2023. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)
Aldgra Fredly

About 91 Chinese aircraft and 12 naval vessels were detected around Taiwan on April 10 as Beijing ended its three-day military exercises in response to the Taiwanese leader’s recent stopovers in the United States.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the Chinese aircraft and ships were detected at 6 a.m. local time, with 54 aircraft, including eight SU-30 fighter jets, spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

It claimed that the 54 warplanes also entered the southwestern and southeastern parts of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), an area where foreign aircraft are identified before entering a country’s territorial airspace.

Taiwan’s military scrambled aircraft to monitor the Chinese aircraft, mobilized naval vessels, and deployed land-based missile systems in response.

The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theater Command—the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) armed wing—announced later on that day that it had “successfully completed” its military drills around Taiwan.

Zhang Benming, a senior colonel of the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said the Chinese troops are “ready to fight at any time” to “resolutely smash any form of Taiwan independence and external interference.”

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said that while the Chinese military has announced the end of its exercise, Taiwanese armed forces “will continue to keep a close watch on the PLA’s movements 24/7 and act accordingly.”

On April 11, Taiwan’s military reported spotting 26 Chinese aircraft and nine ships around the island, with 14 aircraft spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait and the southwestern part of Taiwan’s ADIZ.

Taiwan Vows to Maintain Defense

In an April 10 video address, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen accused the CCP of using her unofficial visit to the United States as a pretext to launch military exercises and create instability in the Taiwan Strait.
President Tsai Ing-wen speaks about recent Chinese military drills in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 11, 2023. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
President Tsai Ing-wen speaks about recent Chinese military drills in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 11, 2023. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

“Although China’s military exercises have come to an end, the national army and national security teams will continue to stick to their posts and defend the country,” the Taiwanese leader said.

The CCP launched military drills in the Taiwan Strait and north, south, and east of Taiwan on April 8 after Tsai concluded her 10-day trip to Central America with stopovers in the United States, where she met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to conquer the self-governing island by force if necessary. The CCP had warned U.S. officials against meeting Tsai because it viewed such meetings as a support for Taiwan’s desire to be seen as an independent country.

McCarthy responded by saying that the CCP cannot influence his decision as the Speaker of the House, saying: “There is no place that China is going to tell me where I can go or who I can speak to.”

The State Department had also clarified that transits by high-level Taiwanese authorities in the United States aren’t visits, but rather “private and unofficial.”

Japan Raises Concerns

During a high-level meeting on maritime affairs in Tokyo on April 10, senior Japanese officials expressed to their Chinese counterparts the government’s concerns over the situation in the Taiwan Strait.

“We conveyed our deep concerns over the situation in the East and South China seas, and reiterated the importance of having peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” a Japanese foreign ministry statement said.

Japan also urged Beijing to stop its coastguard ships entering Japanese waters, adding that it was deeply concerned about Beijing’s military activity near Japan and its coordination with Russia.

“The importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is not only important for the security of Japan, but also for the stability of the international community as a whole,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

Beijing also staged war games around Taiwan and restricted military-to-military communication with Washington following then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to the island in August 2022. The CCP launched live-fire drills around Taiwan, with five missiles reportedly landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer covering U.S. and Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
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