China sent a record number of military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence zone on Monday, the fourth consecutive day of such air incursions by Beijing amid growing fears of further escalation.
Taiwan’s ministry of defence said it had detected at least 52 flights during daylight hours on Monday, 含む 36 fighter jets, 12 H-6 bombers, two transport aircraft and two surveillance aircraft. Late on Monday it reported another four fighter jets crossing into the zone after dark.
It followed consecutive missions of a then-record 38 planes on Friday, China’s national day, 39 土曜日, そして 16 日曜日に. Monday’s incursions into the air defence identification zone (ADIZ) – a buffer outside a country’s airspace – came hours after the US state department urged Beijing to “cease” its activity, which it labelled “provocative” and “destabilising”.
The warplanes recorded during the day on Monday brought the total number for October to 149, surpassing September’s 117, the previous highest monthly total recorded this year. The use of J-16 fighter jets also overtook reconnaissance planes as the most common aircraft in the People’s Liberation Army sorties, said the Washington DC-based defence analyst Gerald C Brown.
Brown said that while the timing of the weekend’s activity with China’s national day was not surprising, the size of the missions “caught people off guard”.
全て 56 planes flew routes out into the south-west corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ and back, near the disputed Pratas Island in the South China Sea. に応じて, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had tasked combat air patrol aircraft, issued radio warnings and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor the activity.
Beijing considers Taiwan to be a province of China it must retake, by force if necessary. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, who has made “reuniting” China and Taiwan a core legacy issue for his presidency, PLA activity has markedly increased, with near-daily sorties in the last two years.
In a regular press briefing on Monday, the spokesperson for China’s ministry of foreign affairs, Hua Chunying, condemned the US’s comments on the incursions, saying China would “resolutely crush all attempts at Taiwan independence”.
Hua accused the US of violating the “one-China principle”, which is Beijing’s official claim that Taiwan is a part of China. The US does not ascribe to the one-China principle, and its own one-China policy acknowledges only that Beijing makes the claim.
The PLA sorties– like military drills, disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks – are a greyzone activity: combat-adjacent tactics that deliberately do not meet the threshold for an act of war, but which serve to intimidate and exhaust another party.
The potential circumstances and timing is debated, but there is general consensus that the likelihood of Beijing making a move on Taiwan is higher than it has been for decades, and world governments are increasingly speaking out against China’s acts of aggression, または sending military assets to the region for “freedom of navigation” exercises.
As cross-strait tensions worsen and activity increases, analysts fear the greatest danger for military conflict is through a greyzone tactic-related incident escalating.
The timing of larger-than-usual bouts of activity by the PLA is frequently attributed to significant events, or as a response to acts by Taiwan or allied nations to which Beijing takes exception. Taiwan celebrates the Republic of China’s national day on Sunday, and there have been significant multilateral announcements in recent weeks, designed to counter China or support Taiwan.
“The PLA doest exactly go and roll out the specific details on why they’re doing things,” said Brown. “People focus a lot on the signalling side of things, and usually with the larger incursions there is a signalling component, but more often it’s about intelligence gathering, wearing down Taiwan’s air force, and pilot training.”