TAIPEI, Taiwan—China is showing no sign of easing its aggression against Taiwan, after the Chinese military sent 39 military aircraft into the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Jan. 23, a record high in a single day in 2022.
The latest incursion involved 34 J-16 and J-10 fighter jets, one H-6 bomber, and four aircraft with electronic warfare capabilities, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. In response, Taiwan’s military scrambled fighters, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the activity.
Chinese warplanes have been making forays into the island’s ADIZ since September 2020, when Taiwan’s defense ministry began releasing information on the incursion amid a significant increase in the number of such flights.
There were about 380 sorties in 2020, according to the ministry. The number more than doubled to 961 sorties in 2021. That year, the Chinese regime’s largest show of force happened on Oct. 4, 2021, when 56 military aircraft breached the island’s ADIZ.
So far this month, there have been only five days when the ministry didn’t report any incidence of China’s incursion.
The Chinese Communist Party is trying to wear down Taiwan’s Air Force with its repeated air incursions. More importantly, the communist regime is hoping to intimidate the island into submission—so that Beijing could take over Taiwan without the need to resort to military conflicts.
But war has always been an option for the Chinese regime, as it has never renounced the use of force against self-governing Taiwan. In October 2021, Taiwan’s defense minister warned that Beijing would be capable of mounting a full-scale invasion of the island by 2025.
Lin Ying-yu, associate professor of Asia-Pacific affairs at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University, told local media outlet Central News Agency that the Jan. 23 incursion could be a way for Beijing to show off its military power in response to joint U.S. and Japanese military activities in waters near Japan.
For six days ending on Jan. 22, 10 U.S. military vessels—including aircraft carriers the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Abraham Lincoln, a destroyer, and an amphibious assault ship—took part in a joint exercise with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, according to Japanese media outlet NHK. The exercise took place in waters south of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa.
On Jan. 24, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force wrote on Twitter that the joint exercise was to “strengthen the capability of Japan–U.S. Alliance for effective deterrence and response.”
Another U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Reagan, has returned to the Japanese city of Yokosuka after months of deployment, according to the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command.
“We’re meeting against a backdrop of increased tensions and challenges to the free, stable, and secure Indo-Pacific region that we both seek … challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and by the coercive and aggressive behavior of the People’s Republic of China,” Austin said.
China’s air incursion on Oct. 4, 2021, also coincided with similar U.S. Navy activities. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, six nations—Canada, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States, and the UK—took part in a joint naval exercise in waters near Okinawa between Oct. 2, 2021, and Oct. 3, 2021.
Seventeen surface ships took part in the drill, including four aircraft carriers—the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Carl Vinson, the British HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the Japanese helicopter carrier JS Ise.