Taiwan: China Sends More Fighter Jets into its Air Defense Zone
(Source: Voice of America News; issued Oct 04, 2021)
WASHINGTON --- China dispatched at least 56 fighter jets into Taiwan's air defense zone on Monday, the island territory claimed, as it scrambled its own air force for the fourth straight day to ward off the intruding aircraft.

Self-governed Taiwan, which China claims as its own, has objected to Beijing's overflights for more than a year. But since Friday, when China celebrated its national day, it has dramatically ramped up the number of flights, often in the southwestern part of the Taiwanese air defense zone close to Taiwan-controlled Pratas Island, as was the case on Monday.

Monday's mission included 34 J-16 fighters and 12 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, Taiwan said. Monday night, authorities in Taipei reported that they had seen four more Chinese J-16 fighters over their airspace.

The news was met with sharp words Monday from the White House.

"We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan, and we have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. "Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region."

Psaki said the administration has "been clear privately and publicly about our concern." But in response to a question from VOA, she said President Joe Biden had not spoken recently to his Chinese counterpart, but that "high-level" officials from Washington were in touch with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying fired back Monday at the U.S. statements.

"Taiwan belongs to China, and the U.S. is in no position to make irresponsible remarks," she said. "The relevant remarks by the U.S. side seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, and send an extremely wrong and irresponsible signal."

The U.S. has maintained a strong cultural, commercial and unofficial relationship with Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, and last year sent $5.1 billion in military aid to the Taipei government.

The U.S. Defense Department has warned against the Chinese flights into Taiwan's air defense zone, saying Monday the military activities were "destabilizing and increase the risk of miscalculation."

"Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region," the Pentagon added.

China has yet to comment on its latest military operations near Taiwan. It has previously said such flights were to protect its sovereignty and aimed against "collusion" between Taiwan and the United States, the island's most important international supporter and arms supplier.

The island territory has described China's activities as "gray zone" warfare, possibly aimed at wearing down Taiwanese forces and to test their abilities to respond.

While claiming Taiwan as part of its territory, the Chinese Communist Party has never governed the democratic island of about 24 million people. But Chinese President Xi Jinping has refused to rule out military force to capture Taiwan if necessary.

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UPDATE: PLA Sends 'Record-Breaking 56 Aircraft Near Taiwan Island in a Single Day' in Consecutive Drills
(Source: Global Times; issued Oct 04, 2021)
For the third time in just four days, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) again broke its record in the number of aircraft dispatched for drills near the island of Taiwan in a single day on Monday, sending a whopping 56 warplanes consisting mainly of fighters and bombers, a day after the US voiced “concern” over the Chinese mainland’s military activity near the island, claiming it was provocative.

The US statement sent a very wrong and irresponsible signal, and China will take all measures necessary to crush any “Taiwan independence” attempts, Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Military analysts said that the PLA drill on the day is a strong warning to both secessionists and their foreign supporters.

The 52 PLA aircraft, namely 34 J-16 fighter jets, two Su-30 fighter jets, two Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, two KJ-500 early warning aircraft and 12 H-6 bombers, entered the island of Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Monday daytime, Taiwan's defense authorities stated in a press release published the same day.

Four more J-16 fighter jets entered the area at Monday night, Taiwan's defense authorities stated in another press release published later on the day.

According to the flight paths released by Taiwan's defense authorities, the PLA aircraft were active in areas between the island of Taiwan and the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea.

The combat group of 56 marked a new record-high in the number of PLA warplanes taking part in the drills near the island of Taiwan in a day, surpassing the previous record of 39 which was just set two days ago and 38 set three days ago.

At least 149 PLA warplanes have joined exercises near the island of Taiwan since the start of the National Day holiday on Friday, during both days and nights, according to releases by the island’s defense authorities.

Monday’s exercise came after the US Department of State released a press statement on Sunday, voicing “concern” over the Chinese mainland’s military activity near the island of Taiwan, claiming it was provocative.

In response to the statement, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson from China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Monday that Taiwan is part of China, and the US has no right to make irresponsible comments on the Taiwan question.

The US statement severely violates the one-China principle and three China-US joint communiqués, and sends very wrong and irresponsible signals, Hua said, noting that the US has been making aggressive moves including arms sales to Taiwan, landing military aircraft on the island and sending warships through the Taiwan Straits.

China will take all measures necessary to crush any “Taiwan independence” attempts, Hua said. “‘Taiwan independence’ is doomed to fail.”

The PLA’s continued drills showed that China has the total control over the region, and sent a powerful warning to the secessionists and their foreign supporters, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Monday, requesting anonymity.

More PLA aircraft and vessels will train near the island, increasing preparedness to carry out missions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity should it become necessary, the expert said.

According to monitoring by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing-based think tank, the US, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand recently held multinational joint naval drills in the Philippines Sea, involving three aircraft carriers, the USS Carl Vinson, the USS Ronald Reagan and the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Citing commercial satellite imagery, the SCSPI said that the HMS Queen Elizabeth on Monday sailed through the Bashi Channel, located to the south of the island of Taiwan, into the South China Sea, likely together with the USS Carl Vinson, as an aircraft based on the US carrier was also spotted.

The PLA’s record-breaking exercises could also be related to the movements of these aircraft carriers, analysts said.

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