China deployed a series of military aircraft and warships around the island of Taiwan after announcing the opening of a large exercise in the area.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said today that 57 military aircraft and four Chinese naval ships have appeared in areas around the island in the past 24 hours.
Of these, 20 heavy fighters, J-11, J-16, and Su-30, two light fighters, J-10, and two reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) BZK-005 of the Chinese army has crossed the median line, and the boundary is implicitly understood as the line delimiting the Taiwan Strait.
Four aircraft are also present in the southwestern area of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), including two H-6 strategic bombers, a KJ-500 early warning aircraft, and a BZK-005 UAV.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation, at the same time deploying fighter jets, warships and using ground-based air defense missile systems to monitor,” Taiwan’s defense agency said.
The close encounter took place after the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese army announced that it was organizing “synergistic combat readiness patrols and practical drills” in the waters and airspace around the island of Taiwan on August 8.
The agency said the exercise tested the military’s ability to engage in synergistic warfare and counter “collusion and provocation” from outside and forces “demanding Taiwan independence.”
Taiwan’s leadership office criticized the Chinese military drills, saying that both sides are responsible for maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region.
A few days earlier, the US Navy announced that the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung Hoon was “moving normally through the Taiwan Strait” to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law.
The last time China exercised around Taiwan was on December 25, 2022, shortly after US President Joe Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2023, which included provisions to increase security assistance for the island.
Taiwanese officials said at the time that 71 Chinese military aircraft and seven Chinese naval ships had appeared around the island, marking the largest-ever wave of Chinese forces.
China has always considered Taiwan as a province awaiting reunification and declared its readiness to use force if necessary.
The US recognizes the “One China” policy but is a key supplier of military assistance to Taiwan to help the island increase its self-defense capabilities.
The Chinese military deployed 1,727 aircraft to penetrate the air defense identification zone around Taiwan in 2022, compared with about 960 in 2021 and 380 in 2020.