Taiwan once again scrambled jets when the Chinese military aircraft crossed into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Sunday, September 5. In this most recent infraction by China, 19 aircraft crossed into Taiwan air space. According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, there were 10 J-16 and four Su-30 fighters, as well as four H-6 bombers, which have the ability to carry nuclear weapons, and an anti-submarine aircraft.
Taiwan Responds with Scrambled Jets
Taiwan’s Air Force responded by scrambling aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft. Missile systems were also deployed to monitor them as well. The area in questions has been a continued source of tension. Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the self-ruled island, often in southwestern part of its air defense zone near Taiwan controlled Pratas Islands. This infraction was in the same area, roughly northeast of the Pratas but closer to the Chinese coast than Taiwan’s. There was no immediate comment from China.
The last infraction took place June 15, and there were 28 aircraft involved in that incident. There were 14 J-16, six J-11 fighters, four H-6 bombers, and anti-submarine, electronic warfare and early warning aircraft. It was the largest daily incursion since the ministry began regularly reporting Chinese Air Force activities in Taiwan’s ADIZ last year breaking the previous record of twenty-five in April 2021.
The Chinese government in the past has used such missions to express displeasure at something either Taiwan has done or at shows of international support for the democratically ruled island, especially if the U.S. is involved. In June, the infraction on June 15 happened the day after China publicly criticized the scolding from the G7 on Chinese human rights in its Xinjiang region, calling for Hong Kong to keep a high degree of autonomy and demanding a full and through investigation of the origins of the coronavirus.
Determining Chinese Motives for the Scuffle
This most recent incident does not seem to be clearly linked to any such event. But it could be related to when a U.S. warship and U.S. Coast Guard cutter sailed through the Taiwan Strait late last month. The U.S. called the operation as routine.
In the past, China has said the reason for its actions are necessary to protect the country’s sovereignty and deal with the “collusion” between Taipei and the U.S.
Last week, Taiwan warned of the ability for China to “paralyses” Tiawan defense and are able to fully monitor its deployments. In the past 20 years, tensions between these two countries have continued to mount. While China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province which it has vowed to retake by force if necessary, Taiwan leaders say they are clearly much more than a province and argue they are a sovereign state.
Taiwan has its own constitution, democratically-elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in their armed forces. But although Taiwan has virtually all of the characteristics of an independent state, its legal status remains unclear.
Currently, the majority of Taiwanese support the Democratic Progressive Party (DDP), which leans toward the eventual official independence from China. And as the years continue on, more and more people say they feel Taiwanese, rather than Chinese. With tensions growing, the White House says its commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid.” But the U.S. Admiral John Aquilino, head of the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific command warns that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is “much closer to us than most think.” Military responses by China are important to watch because anything could happen.