On Sunday (Sep 17), Taiwan reported that China had deployed 28 Chinese warplanes around its territory, with most of them breaching the median line of the Taiwan Strait for unspecified “long-range” missions, as confirmed by authorities in Taipei. Taiwan’s defense ministry disclosed that since Sunday morning, 20 of these aircraft had crossed the median line, which serves as the boundary between Taiwan and mainland China, and had entered the southeast and southwest air defense identification zones of the self-governed island.
The defense ministry’s statement suggested that China was actively participating in long-range exercises and training. It emphasized that Taiwan was closely monitoring the situation through the deployment of patrol aircraft and naval vessels.
It’s crucial to note that Beijing claims democratic Taiwan as an integral part of its territory, and it hasn’t ruled out the possibility of using force to achieve reunification. In recent years, China has significantly escalated both military and diplomatic pressures on Taiwan, causing a strain in their relations.
Just last week, Taipei reported a noticeable increase in the number of incursions by Chinese warplanes and naval vessels into its territorial waters. This escalation followed Beijing’s announcement that its troops were on “high alert” in response to the passage of two ships from the United States and Canada through the Taiwan Strait earlier this month. According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, they detected a total of 68 Chinese aircraft and 10 naval vessels in the vicinity of the island between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning.
The ministry reported that some of these planes and warships seemed to be heading to an undisclosed location in the Western Pacific for “joint sea and air training” with China’s Shandong aircraft carrier. Taipei authorities reported that they observed the Shandong, one of two operational aircraft carriers in the Chinese fleet, positioned approximately 110 kilometers southeast of Taiwan on Monday.
China has refrained from offering official comments on any ongoing drills in the Western Pacific.
Notably, in April, Beijing conducted military exercises simulating the encirclement of Taiwan, which occurred after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. During that time, Taiwan detected 71 Chinese warplanes within a 24-hour period, equaling the previous record set in December 2022.