China sends 39 warplanes toward Taiwan in its largest sortie of the new year

·2 min read
In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP)
In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP)

In its latest move to assert power, China has sent 39 warplanes toward Taiwan, the largest of such sorties in the new year.

According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, the sortie on Sunday night included 24 J-16 fighter jets and 10 J-10 jets, among other support aircraft and electronic warfare aircraft.

The warplanes over Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) came a day after the Navies of US and Japan put on a massive show of strength in the Philippine Sea. It included two US Navy aircraft carrier, two US amphibious assault ships and a Japanese helicopter destroyer.

A statement from the US Navy had said that they were “conducting training to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Meanwhile, the Taiwan defence ministry said that the country’s air force tracked down the People’s Liberation Army warplanes on its air defence radar systems. Taiwanese military also issued radio warnings and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor the activities, reports said.

The sorties that China sent on Sunday night is the largest that have entered Taiwan this year.

On 4 October last year, China sent 56 military planes over Taiwan — the largest number before Sunday.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore was quoted as saying by CNN that there is “no doubt this is part of the broader campaign by Beijing aimed at eroding the will and ability of Taiwan to continue resisting.”

He added that “certain politicians and retired military officers (in Taiwan) have raised the issue of possible pilot shortage and insufficient training in the face of operational requirements in responding to frequent PLA flybys.”

Mr Koh said: “The latest major flyby, while obviously targeted at the allied show of force in the Philippine Sea, will definitely have some intended reinforcement effect on the ongoing debates in Taiwan.”

China’s PLA has been flying its warplanes almost on a daily basis for a year and a half now over Taiwan’s ADIZ.

China has never controlled Taiwan but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that the self-ruled island is part of its territory.

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