Military tension around Taiwan increased on Monday when China sent a record 52 fighter jets to the country’s air defense identification zone after the United States and five of its allies conducted a major naval exercise east of Taiwan.
The raid, Announced by Taiwan’s Defense Ministry on Monday night, it included 36 fighters and 12 nuclear-capable bombers. It was the third time in four days that the People’s Liberation Army set a new record for flights to Taiwan’s air buffer zone, bringing the total number of those flights to 145 since Friday.
Taiwanese officials said that while it appeared that Chinese military aircraft that entered its air defense buffer zone on Monday were conducting an exercise targeting the United States and its allies, the scale of PLA activity near Taiwan had reached a dangerous level. . “This is approaching the brink of conflict,” a senior official told the Financial Times.
According to a statement of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force launched early Monday, navies from the US, Japan, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand conducted a large exercise involving three aircraft carriers and other 14 warships on Saturday and Sunday southwest of Okinawa. .
Two people familiar with the situation said that the Chinese planes were simulating attacks on some of the warships that had participated in the joint drill and were heading home or to new missions.
Taipei demanded on Monday that China immediately stop its “irresponsible provocations.” “Beijing’s refusal to renounce force against Taiwan and its frequent military harassment seriously violate the principle of peace in international relations,” the Taiwan Continental Affairs Council, China’s national-level policy body, said in a statement. cabinet.
The growing tension comes as the United States and several of its allies and partners are intensifying military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in response to China’s increasingly aggressive use of its growing military capabilities.
Aukus, the new security pact announced last month under which the United States and the United Kingdom will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, will allow the Australian navy to operate throughout the region to help deter China. Beijing has denounced the deal.
China claims Taiwan as its territory and threatens to invade it if Taipei refuses to submit to its control.
An air defense identification zone extends outward from a country’s sovereign airspace and is designed to give defense forces more time to identify and respond to an air strike.
The PLA has been sending military aircraft to Taiwan’s ADIZ on an average of 20 days a month since Taipei began making the raids public in September last year. While there are many days when only one or two early warning or anti-submarine warfare aircraft enter the area, activity generally picks up and includes fighters and bombers when Taiwan conducts foreign exchanges or when US military activity is nearby.