China sent a record number of military jets to Taiwan’s air defense zone on Monday, the fourth consecutive day of such air raids from Beijing amid growing fears of further escalation.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had detected at least 52 flights during the day on Monday, including 36 fighter jets, 12 H-6 bombers, two transport jets and two surveillance jets. Late on Monday, it reported that four more fighter jets crossed the area after dark.
It followed consecutive missions of a record 38 aircraft on Friday, China’s National Day, 39 on Saturday, and 16 on Sunday. Monday’s raids into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), a buffer outside a country’s airspace, came hours after the US State Department urged Beijing to “cease” its activity, which He called it “provocative” and “destabilizing.”
Fighter jets registered during the day on Monday brought the total number for October to 149, surpassing 117 for September, the highest monthly total on record this year. The use of J-16 fighter jets also surpassed reconnaissance jets as the most common aircraft in the People’s Liberation Army sorties, said Washington DC-based defense analyst Gerald C Brown.
Brown said that while the timing of China’s National Day weekend activity was not surprising, the size of the missions “caught people off guard.”
The 56 planes flew routes to the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ and back, near the disputed Pratas Island in the South China Sea. In response, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had commissioned combat air patrol jets, issued radio warnings and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor activity.
Beijing sees Taiwan as a province of China that it must retake, by force if necessary. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, who has made the “reunification” of China and Taiwan a central theme of the legacy of his presidency, the activity of the PLA has increased markedly, with departures almost daily in the last two years.
At a regular news conference on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying condemned the US comments on the raids, saying China would “resolutely crush all attempts at Taiwan independence.”
Hua accused the United States of violating the “one-China principle,” which is Beijing’s official claim that Taiwan is part of China. The United States does not adhere to the one-China principle, and its own one-China policy only recognizes that Beijing makes the claim.
The pla Raids, such as military exercises, disinformation campaigns, and cyberattacks, are a gray zone activity – combat-adjacent tactics that deliberately fall short of the threshold for an act of war, but serve to intimidate and exhaust another party. .
Possible circumstances and timing are debated, but there is a general consensus that Beijing is more likely to make a move on Taiwan than it has been for decades, and the world’s governments are increasingly speaking out against the acts. of aggression from China or send military assets to China. the region for “freedom of navigation” exercises.
As cross-strait tensions worsen and activity increases, analysts fear that the greatest danger of a military conflict will escalate through an incident related to the gray zone tactic.
The timing of larger-than-usual episodes of activity by the PLA is often attributed to major events, or as a response to acts by Taiwan or allied nations to which Beijing makes an exception. Taiwan celebrates ROC National Day on Sunday and there have been major multilateral announcements in recent weeks, designed to either counter China or support Taiwan.
“PLA is exactly what it does and it presents the specifics of why they are doing things,” Brown said. “People are very focused on the signaling side and usually with the larger raids there is a signaling component, but more often it is about gathering intelligence, wearing down the Taiwanese air force and training the pilots.” .