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PLA Continues To Fly Record Combat Aircraft Near Taiwan

Oct. 5, 2021 (EIRNS)—The Chinese PLA Air Force answered the State Department’s “concern” about Chinese air exercises near Taiwan by launching its largest yet. Fifty-two PLA aircraft—34 J-16 fighter jets, 2 Su-30 fighter jets, 2 Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, 2 KJ-500 early warning aircraft, and 12 H-6 bombers—flew into Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone (ADIZ) yesterday during daylight hours, and four more in the evening, making for a total of 56 aircraft, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry, reported Global Times.

Some reports have claimed that PLA aircraft flew into Taiwan’s airspace. This is not true. The ADIZ is not territorial airspace and has no standing in international law. In the case of Taiwan, the ADIZ marks out airspace that the Taiwan defense authorities have decided is a warning area in which they should react to intrusions of foreign military aircraft. In fact, published maps, including those of Taiwan’s defense ministry, show the Taiwan ADIZ extending northwest into the P.R.C. itself.

As for why the PLA is sending so many aircraft to exercise near Taiwan, Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, a professor of international relations and strategic studies at Tamkang University in Taipei, speculates that the PLA was showing its strength to a domestic audience during the mainland’s National Day and ahead of the personnel reshuffle in the Communist Party congress next year. “The PLA wants to send a strong signal to this joint drill, especially after Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. formed a trilateral security pact obviously targeting Beijing,” he told South China Morning Post, referring to the AUKUS alliance.

Global Times, in contrast, is placing responsibility for the crisis on Taiwan’s pro-independence, ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP). In an editorial today, Global Times blamed the DPP for the disappearance of the “peaceful atmosphere” that existed only a few years ago and vowed that the P.R.C. will not allow Taiwan “to act as an outpost of the U.S.’ strategic containment against China.” It warned that the PLA drills in the Taiwan Strait are no longer declarations of sovereignty but rather preparations for operations “that are required to take back the island of Taiwan.”

“If the U.S. and the DPP authorities do not take the initiative to reverse the current situation, the Chinese mainland’s military punishment for ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces will eventually be triggered,” Global Times concluded. “Time will prove that this warning is not just a verbal threat.”

Back in Washington, both the White House and the State Department reiterated the Biden Administration’s “rock solid” commitment to Taiwan. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan. And we have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki at her briefing yesterday. “That’s why we’ll continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.”

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