New Delhi: Between Friday and Monday, a total of 145 Chinese air force planes flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in a flagrant violation of its sovereignty.China has been regularly, and increasingly, trespassing into Taiwan’s marine and air spaces over the last two years. It has been intimidating its eastern democratic neighbour in the hope of annexing it into the mainland one day. But the 145 aircraft over four days was setting a new record of intimidation.
In response, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) scrambled combat patrol aircraft and issued radio warnings to the Chinese aircraft. It also alerted its air defence missile systems to monitor Chinese fighters.October 1 is Chinese national day while October 10 is Taiwanese National Day–anathema to Beijing as it cuts at the heart of its One China Policy (OCP).
The Chinese air force, known as the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) flew 38 planes on Friday–the Chinese National Day, followed by 39 on Saturday, 16 on Sunday and 52 on Monday into Taiwan’s ADIZ.China is not only testing the waters by flexing its muscles, it is also trying to demoralise Taiwan.
According to China experts, Beijing is reacting to the increased, and successful, mobilisation by the US, Japan, Taiwan, Australia in the Indo-Pacific in response to China’s aggression against its neighbours and also the South China Sea (SCS).
The recent AUKUS (Australia, the UK and the US) military pact on equipping Australia with nuclear-power submarines to take on China has also rattled the latter.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) quotes Wen-Ti Sung, an expert on China’s foreign policy at the Australian National University, as saying that Beijing’s show of force against Taiwan was for international and domestic audiences. Sung said: “It (AUKUS) is a big deal that signals Australia’s greater willingness to be engaged with security [issues] in Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. It will be increasing deterrence against China, and China does not look upon [that] very favourably.”
China has publicly said that it plans to merge Taiwan to the mainland even if it has to annex it militarily. On the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on July 1, 2021, President Xi Jinping had said: “No one should underestimate the resolve, the will and ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” in reference to Taiwan.
The US took note of the air space harassment. In a statement Washington said: “The United States is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability. We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.”
The US, which is a strong ally to a democratic Taiwan, reinforced that it will “continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability”. Washington added that American commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region”.