Taiwan Reports 68 Chinese Warplanes, 10 Navy Vessels Near Island

Some of the aircraft carried out drills with the Chinese aircraft carrier the Shandong, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said.
Taiwan Reports 68 Chinese Warplanes, 10 Navy Vessels Near Island
A Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location in a file photo. (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP)
Mimi Nguyen Ly
9/14/2023
Updated:
9/14/2023
0:00

Taiwan on Sept. 14 reported a total of 68 Chinese warplanes and 10 Chinese navy vessels near its territory over the previous 24 hours.

Sixty-eight “[People’s Liberation Army] aircraft and 10 [People’s Liberation Army Navy] vessels around Taiwan were detected by 6 a.m. [local time],” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

The Taiwanese ministry added that its armed forces “monitored the situation” and “tasked [combat air patrol] aircraft, Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond [to] these activities.”

The ministry added that 40 of the Chinese aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan’s southwest or southeast Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)—an area in the airspace primarily over the East China Sea but extending beyond Taiwan’s national airspace.

The figure marked a jump from Sept. 13, when Taiwan reported 35 Chinese warplanes near the island, 28 of which crossed the median line or entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ.

Some of the Chinese aircraft crossed the Bashi Channel to carry out drills with the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in the Pacific, the ministry added.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) views Taiwan as a future part of its territory despite Taipei’s longstanding self-rule as a democracy. Taiwan staunchly opposes China’s territorial assertions.

Over the past year, the CCP has been escalating military and political pressure on the island, including the sending of warships and warplanes on a near-daily basis.

On Sept. 11, China sailed its own naval formation led by the Shandong about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Taiwan. The vessel was expected to conduct drills simulating aircraft, submarine, warship, and land attacks, according to Chinese state media.

That marked the second time China has deployed the Shandong to the western Pacific, according to state media. The warship had participated in drills around Taiwan in April, shortly after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in California.

At the time, the CCP sent a record 91 warplanes and 12 naval vessels toward Taiwan on the final day of its drills.

The CCP which interprets all interactions between Taiwanese and foreign officials as challenges to its claims of authority over the island, says its military activities near Taiwan are in response to alleged collaboration between the United States and Taiwanese independence forces.

Besides the recent incursions, the CCP in August 2022 staged war games around Taiwan when then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan. At the time, it fired missiles over Taiwan and declared no-fly zones along neighboring areas.

US, Canadian Warships Transit Taiwan Strait

The recent deployment of Chinese military aircraft and naval vessels near Taiwan followed the United States and Canada sailing warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sept. 9, in an apparent challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims.
The U.S. Navy stated that the routine transit “demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

It marked the second such joint U.S.–Canadian mission since June, which coincided with both countries’ leaders’ attendance at the G20 summit in India.

The navies of the United States and Canada also conducted a series of drills in the South China Sea this week, according to the U.S. Navy.

Taiwan Releases Defense Report

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a report (pdf) released on Sept. 12 that China is continuously bolstering its military bases along the coastline facing Taiwan and has been completing its airfield construction there to gain “superior air power” against the island.

“This year, the Chinese Communist Party has aggressively expanded its armaments and continued to build various types of fighter jets and drones,” Maj. Gen. Huang Wen-Chi, the assistant deputy chief with the General Staff for Intelligence of Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, said during a news conference releasing the biennial report.

“The information we have received is that all important military bases along the coast ... are being continuously updated,” he added.

Aldgra Fredly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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