China has set a new record around the dispute over control of Taiwan, the self-governing island it has claimed as its own territory since 1949. After announcing on Monday the end of the “Joint Sword” military maneuvers, which have lasted three days and have been developed in the maritime and air environment of this territory, Taipei It claims to have detected 91 Chinese military aircraft and 12 ships around its autonomous territory on Tuesday in a span of 12 hours. At least 54 Chinese aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Many of those planes took off from the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND).
The Taiwanese Defense assured that the detected planes are a Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11. They were also detected J-15 fighter jets operating from the aircraft carrier Shandong as well as J-16 multi-role fighters and Su-30 fighter, the electronic strike derivative J-16D of the Flanker Chinese-made, as well as H-6 Bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Unusually, the Chinese authorities have published a very detailed breakdown of the types of activities their Armed Forces carried out in these maneuvers. Thus, for example, it has been known that H-6 bombers they were armed with real missiles and that they have worked together with warships to “form a situation of multi-directional blockade spanning the island“. Experts estimate that this is a possible strategy in a hypothetical scenario of armed conflict over Taiwan based on an air and sea blockade with the aim of suffocating the island.
In addition to PLA aircraft and warships, the latest series of military exercises also has tested the missile forces of the Asian giant. On Sunday, the Chinese military said it carried out simulated precision strikes against Taiwan. A video released by the Eastern Theater Command shows an animation of simulated missile attacks fired from land, sea and air into Taiwan, with two of the projectiles exploding on impact with their targets.
From Taipei, the Defense Ministry noted that in response to this large incursion it was decided to send its own planes to monitor the Chinese air mission and radio warnings were issued; in addition Taiwan mobilized combat air and naval patrols and deployed defense missile systems to track Chinese military aircraft.
On at least one occasion during these three days of maneuvers, the Chinese and Taiwanese warships came close to each other, as evidenced by the images published by both countries. A report from the Reuters agency, citing an unidentified source familiar with the security situation in the region, said that the PLA carried out simulated attacks with planes and warships against “foreign military targets” in the waters off the southwest coast of Taiwan.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched three days of military exercises in Taiwan on Saturday, a day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a 10-day trip abroad that included a meeting with Taiwanese President US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy in California.
These maneuvers have not only served to establish a island lockdown but also to practice precision attacks against Taiwan in the eyes of the international community and, especially, of the United States, which apart from sending a destroyer to the area and selling weapons to Taiwan, limits itself to watching the advance of the Chinese army and the Beijing’s territorial aspirations whenever a senior US official maintains diplomatic relations with members of the Taiwanese government.
The spokesman for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, Shi Yi, had announced on Monday that the “joint cruise and patrol special operation” in the Taiwan Strait had reached a “successful conclusion”. Taiwan is not buying this, and its Defense Ministry said it remains vigilant and will closely monitor the movements of Chinese ships and planes despite the end of the exercises.
China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control in the future, and has carried out increasingly complex large-scale military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and around the island in recent years.
What is ADIZ?
Taiwan’s ADIZ border line covers not only the entire Taiwan Strait but also parts of mainland China. The central dividing line serves as the de facto boundary between Taiwan and the mainland. While crossing the median line in itself is not an uncommon occurrence, the scale of such activity by the PLA has increased considerably in recent times.