Beijing sent 56 fighters to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on October 4, demonstrating its greatest strength in history towards its alleged autonomous island. The move also marked the fourth day of sustained military harassment of Taiwan, which saw nearly 150 fighters fly into the zone.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, recent invasions included 34 J-16 fighters and 12 H-6 bombers. Four more Chinese J-16s have emerged in the southwestern part of Taiwan’s “air defense identification zone,” a buffer zone outside the island’s airspace.
For more than a year, tensions across the Taiwan Strait have increased as Beijing increased military and diplomatic pressure on the island. According to Taiwanese officials, the administration’s Air Force has made more than 500 military invasions in the nine months of this year, compared to 380 in 2020.
The latest group of exercises began on October 1, the 72nd anniversary of the administration’s founding. Since then, 149 Chinese fighters have flowed over the territory.
With such activities, Beijing is claiming military power, showing its determination to claim Taiwan, according to experts.
Chang Yen Ting, a retired Air Force lieutenant from Taiwan, believes this action is part of a response to the growing international attention to democratic islands.
The United States, Australia, Britain, and Japan are increasingly calling for China’s military aggression in the Indo-Pacific.
Taiwan has also applied for participation in a trade agreement between 12 countries known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement (CPTPP), which China is also seeking to participate in.
Meanwhile, Australia and Japan have stated that they are reluctant to have Beijing in the trade bloc over the use of economic coercion on conflicting countries. Both countries, along with Canada and the United States, have expressed their support for Taiwan’s bid.
“Taiwan’s battle for a larger international space is the CCP’s battle. [Chinese Communist Party’s] Mr. Chan told The Epoch Times, referring to Beijing’s position that international support for Taiwan constitutes a “red line” that no other country can cross.
Taiwan-based military analyst Wu Minchey said the administration could raise temperatures even further in the coming days. China’s President Xi Jinping said he is likely to offer a tougher front to ease domestic pressure as he aims to secure his third party leader next year.
However, there are risks associated with this strategy. “The bigger their movement, the more it can backfire,” he said.
White House spokesman Jen Psaki urged Beijing to “stop military, diplomatic, economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan” at a press conference on Monday.
China’s “provocative” military operations “destabilize, risk miscalculations, and undermine regional peace and stability,” she said. Saki later added that US officials also “contacted me personally and delivered a clear message through diplomatic channels.”
In the face of US criticism, China’s Foreign Ministry accused Washington on Monday, warning that selling weapons to Taiwan and US warships sailing in the Taiwan Strait would undermine bilateral relations.
Taiwan’s diplomatic ministry said Beijing’s actions fueled tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.
“In the face of China’s challenges, our government has always promised to improve our self-defense capabilities and resolutely protect Taiwan’s democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity,” he said in a statement on October 3. ..
Chang Chun contributed to this report.