TAIPEI: The defence ministry of Taiwan reported on Wednesday that more than 40 Chinese military aircraft were detected in the vicinity of the self-governing island in a single day. Beijing continues to assert its territorial claim over democratic Taiwan and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve reunification, escalating both military and diplomatic pressures on the island this year.
In its daily statement, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense disclosed that, in the 24-hour period leading up to 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday (2200 GMT Tuesday), they identified 43 Chinese aircraft and 7 naval vessels operating around the island. Notably, 37 of these aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, entering Taiwan’s southwest and southeast air identification zones (ADIZ). This median line divides the 180-kilometer (110-mile) wide waterway that separates Taiwan from mainland China.
This increase in Chinese military activity is part of a pattern observed over the past year, as Taiwan’s defence minister highlighted China’s heightened “military intimidation” tactics, characterized by increased sorties of warplanes circling the island and the accelerated deployment of ballistic missiles.
The Chinese military’s frequent incursions into Taiwan’s airspace and territorial waters have raised concerns regarding regional security. In September, China sent a record 103 aircraft into the vicinity of Taiwan within a 24-hour period, an action described by Taipei as a “recent high.” At the time, Taiwan’s defence ministry expressed its worry that Beijing’s ongoing military provocations could escalate tensions and further destabilize the region.
Relations between China and Taiwan have been further strained by actions like Beijing’s military exercises simulating the encirclement of the island, which followed a meeting between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and the former US House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, in California. Beijing vehemently opposes Tsai’s refusal to acknowledge Taiwan as part of China and often responds with displays of military force when international officials engage with her, interpreting such interactions as challenges to the island’s sovereignty.
Recently, China’s defence ministry accused Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party of pushing the island closer to the brink of war, as reports emerged that Taipei intended to acquire thousands of military drones in the next four years. The situation remains tense, with the potential for further escalations in the region.